1. So, this just happened.
A six-minute mini-episode of Doctor Who has been released online. The Night Of The Doctor serves as a prequel to next week’s 50th anniversary special The Day Of The Doctor.
2. That’s only Paul McGann, back as the Eighth Doctor!
McGann played the role just once, in the US-funded 1996 TV Movie that was not picked up for a full series. It’s widely held that his performance was pretty much the only decent thing about that movie.
3. It was widely speculated that he would be back to film his regeneration scene in the 50th anniversary, but he denied it.
4. So he wasn’t technically lying when he said this.
I was a bit dismayed, a bit gutted, but [the older Doctors] are not in it. There are all kinds of rumours doing the rounds. One gets tired of trying to refute things on Twitter and the like, but – take it from me – I’m not in it.
5. So here he is, trying to rescue a young girl called Cass from a doomed spaceship.
But Cass does not trust him. We are clearly in the thick of the Last Great Timewar, and the Timelords are as reviled as the Daleks.
6. The Sisterhood Of Karn!
The Doctor and Cass crashland on Karn. We have met the Sisterhood before, in 1976’s The Brain Of Morbius. They are the keepers of a sacred flame which protects the elixir of life. The Sisterhood Of Karn is also the name of a London-based society of gay Doctor Who fans who meet once a month upstairs at the King’s Arms on Poland Street.
7. The Sisterhood are keeping the Doctor alive for now, but they offer him a terrible choice.
As a sidenote, a throwaway line of dialogue also confirms that the Doctor could at one point be a woman.
8. “I don’t suppose there’s any need for a Doctor anymore. Make me a warrior now.”
The episode also confirms what most people had suspected, that John Hurt’s previously unseen Doctor came after the Eighth, and was the one forced to commit genocide against his own people to end the Timewar.
9. He knows what he has to do.
Before going, he salutes Charley, C’rizz, Lucie, Tamsin and Molly, the companions who accompanied him on his audio and comic-book adventures when the show was off air.