Doctor Who 50th anniversary: BBC reveals mini-episode 'The Night of the Doctor'

Viewers enjoyed the surprise return of eighth Time Lord Paul McGann

Doctor Who fans excited for the 50th anniversary episode next weekend were surprised with a new seven-minute show on Thursday.

Featuring the unexpected return of Paul McGann to the Tardis, The Night of the Doctor debuted on BBC’s iPlayer yesterday morning, after an hour’s warning on Twitter.

Viewers enjoyed some clues regarding John Hurt’s character, as final scenes showed McGann regenerating to become him.

Credited afterwards as ‘The War Doctor’, the episode confirmed that Hurt was the ninth incarnation of the Doctor, revealing his “dark chapter” and perhaps suggesting that Peter Capaldi will be the last.

The Sisterhood of Karn also made a surprise appearance, after originally appearing in the 1976 four-parter The Brain of Morbius with fourth Time Lord Tom Baker.

McGann had previously denied involvement in the anniversary celebrations, keeping the secret under wraps by debunking rumours.

“One gets tired of trying to refute things on Twitter and the like, but take it from me - I’m not in it!” he said. 

The Night of the Doctor teaser whets fans’ appetite before the 75-minute special The Day of the Doctor airs on 23 November.

“In 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion,” the BBC revealed. “All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him.”

Starring Matt Smith, David Tennant, Billie Piper and Hurt, The Day of the Doctor will be broadcast in 75 countries and shown in 3D at UK cinemas.

Other celebratory programmes planned include a themed episode of The Culture Show and one-off drama An Adventure in Space and Time.

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