Unless he wasn't playing as the 4th Doctor (which is unlikely as the 12th Doctor- Matt Smith- says he doesn't forget a face when he saw him) how did the 4th Doctor's cameo fit in at the end of the episode?

It can't be the 4th Doctor in his own time stream as this one was aware of the events that had taken place. But Matt Smith's Doctor said he never forgets a face, which suggests that it was the 4th Doctor.

But this would make no sense as the 4th Doctor doesn't fit in to the Day of the Doctor? So how does he fit in then?

My friend said that that asthmatic girl who wore the scarf was Tom Baker and he said that was an Easter Egg, but I don't understand how that would be possible.

  • 1
    Shouldn't much of this be spoilered out at this point in time? Anyway, a scarf does not a doctor make.
    – Mr Lister
    Nov 23, 2013 at 22:15
  • 5
    You aren't meant to know for sure, that's the point. "Who...nose?"
    – user19879
    Nov 23, 2013 at 22:23
  • @Rassilon I actually feel that was about if Gallifrey survived or not.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Nov 23, 2013 at 22:26
  • @Pureferret I thought it was whether or not the Doctor was supposed to go looking for Gallifrey, rather than whether it survived. Nov 23, 2013 at 22:59
  • 4
    @Monty129 Well, he was tapping his nose at the same time, which I guess throws people off. That's a pretty common thing to do when indicating something is a secret, but that may be limited to the UK and may not have been obvious to non-UK viewers. Nov 24, 2013 at 14:08

12 Answers 12


Matt Smith's character had just said :

I could be a curator here. I could retire and be THE Curator

Then Tom Baker's character said

I really think you might

He then went on to talk about The Doctor

Revisiting some old faces in the future, just the favourite ones.

I'd say that appearance of Tom Baker was not intended to be the fourth doctor (especially since the 4th regenerated as a much younger man), but a future incarnation of the doctor who's decided to "retire" as an older, version of a previous, favoured incarnation.

  • 7
    This is exactly how I interpreted the scene. If you listen to the dialogue, I think it's quite clear that this is what Tom Baker is explaining... Nov 24, 2013 at 12:00
  • 1
    I think the quote was "revisiting some old faces in the future, NOT just the favourite ones" to imply that maybe Tom Baker's Doctor had been somewhat forgotten
    – childcat15
    Nov 24, 2013 at 13:12
  • @childcat15, I think one of 4's first lines was something like, "Can't say much about the physiognomy," implying he wasn't fond of his appearance in that incarnation.
    – The Photon
    Nov 25, 2013 at 4:40
  • The "Who-nose (or knows?)" line could be indicative of a future "Who-nose" Nov 26, 2013 at 19:03
  • Actually, that's not how I saw it. I might be mis-remembering, but I don't recall seeing a 4th Doctor scene when the other Doctors are showing, meaning this would be the only 4th Dr. instance (save at the end where they're all looking at Gallifrey. Jan 13, 2021 at 14:07

You're all forgetting that in "The Night Of The Doctor" we find out that the 8th Doctor is told that The Sisterhood can allow him to regenerate in the form of his choice. It's entirely likely that in the future he decides to regenerate into the form of the 4th doctor and retires to be The Curator.


It's pretty clear. Tom Baker in character as 'The Curator' essentially tells Matt Smith's Doctor that he may indeed end up as 'The Curator' himself. When Smith tells the Curator he recognises his face, and he never forgets a face, 'The Curator' acknowledges that he "knows he does". Baker as 'The Curator' strongly implies that he is a future version of "The Doctor" Who has chosen to visit a few of his favourite old faces. Thus implying he has chosen to grow old in the image of the 4th Doctor.

The conversation between them with Baker leading the dialogue is a throw back to classic Who, with Baker saying about he (baker) being him (Smith) or him (Smith) being he (baker), then chuckling and coming out with Who Knows as he taps his nose. How can it be any clearer?

As for the 13 Doctors in the episode and the line "all 13 doctors", people are fretting over the number of incarnations he can have. They shouldn't worry about this, The Doctor is the saviour of the Time Lords, when they are found they can easily reward him with more Regenerations, and he knows where to go to get potion that let's him choose his body so he can be 4th Doctor's image.


I don't think he was meant to be the 4th doctor- they just used the same actor (in the same way they used Billie Piper). This may have been done to please the fans.

What it looks like to me- the old man is a Doctor from the future. He came to give hope to the current Doctor; to show him that he will survive the events that will happen, and retire to a peaceful position, visiting his old friends now and then.

  • But then the 12th Doctor- Matt Smith- says I never forget a face when he sees him, which is the bit that makes no sense to me
    – 83457
    Nov 23, 2013 at 22:35
  • 1
    @83457, it's all Timey wimey stuff. You wouldn't understand. :) Nov 23, 2013 at 22:40
  • I think Billie Piper was actually playing Rose Tyler — the Bad Wolf version of her. Nov 24, 2013 at 16:43
  • 3
    @Paul D. Waite Billie Piper was playing as the Moment. The Moment has a conscience and merely took on a human form from the Doctor's past. Or was it future?
    – 83457
    Nov 24, 2013 at 17:38
  • 2
    @PaulD.Waite, when I saw her and her eyes glowed I hoped it was some weird time splitting thing from when rose looks into the TARDIS in the Season 1 finale.
    – Jonathan.
    Nov 24, 2013 at 20:01

Like Smith's Doctor said, the time streams were out of sync. I think what happened is that Baker's Doctor went back to keep an eye on the "painting" as the curator, knowing that when all was said and done things would return to as they should be.

And the "who knows?" as mentioned by another poster..."-WHO- knows."


There is precedent for this sort of thing from Romana's regeneration where she assumed the appearance of the princess from the planet they had just visited.

This happened following the Key to Time series, when actress Mary Tamm ("Romana I") was replaced by Lala Ward's "Romana II". Ward had played Princess Astra in the previous episode, and as she tries out new bodies, the Doctor objects that she can't go around looking like someone else. She goes through several bodies during this sequence, including an alien one. It's the basis for when 10 lost his hand in the Christmas Invasion and was able to grow it back since he'd regenerated so recently.

It's implied that most Time Lords have much more control over their regenerations than the Doctor. In Planet of the Spiders, the Doctor's mentor the Abbott regenerates and it's a peaceful, calm process-- the new body even exists as a projection that the Abbot uses as a pseudo-independent character prior to his death. When the 4th Doctor is about to regenerate, a similar projection appears but is not under the Doctor's control. When the Master regenerates in Utopia, he chooses a young body on purpose.

The Doctor also frequently suffers from post-regeneration health problems, something other Time Lords we've seen regenerating haven't had.

  • In which episode did Romana do this?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Nov 24, 2013 at 14:01
  • I think you're on to something with how the Doctor regenrates different from most other Time Lords we've seen. Perhaps you can exercise some control over it, but the Doctor being who he is he allows it to happen wildly just to see what he will become (which could also explain his health problems)
    – Monty129
    Nov 25, 2013 at 17:57
  • Romana "tried on" various bodies before settling on the image of Princess Astra at the beginning of Part 1 of "Destiny of the Daleks"
    – PeterL
    Nov 26, 2013 at 19:46
  • 2
    @Pureferret -- Here; details: Destiny of the Daleks; Wikipedia has a good picture of the four forms she tried.
    – K-H-W
    Nov 27, 2013 at 17:48
  • 1
    @Tynam Perhaps he missed the lessons covering regenerations after he abandoned his teachings from viewing the Untempered Schism.
    – Monty129
    Nov 28, 2013 at 22:46

I'm pretty sure that tom baker was the human/timelord version of the doctor. I can't have been the fourth doctor because of reasons stated previously. I doubt it's a future recarnation because the doctor is always gonna regenerate as someone fit, capable, no disabilities. This is my assumption. It's possible that at some point the doctor loses his ability to regenerate like river song lose hers but we know the doctor does not die as an old man but in an epic battle of trenzalore (at least for now). So I believe it's David tennant because as part human he has the ability to grow old now with out generation. It's totally possible that he somehow made his way back from the parallel universe. And he's the only version of the doctor that can seems to fit sensibly in this interaction with 11.

I'm just saying guys. I'm pretty sure.

  • 2
    Nice guess. One remark though: He may regenerate as a fitter person with no disabilities (otherwise there wouldn't be much use to regeneration, really) but in each incarnation he may live a long time and grow old and frail towards the end. Case in point: One.
    – Mr Lister
    Nov 24, 2013 at 8:13

I thought that one of Dr Who's older 'cousins' (loom-weaved brother) from the House of Lungbarrow on Gallifrey was a powerful Time Lord who became an art curator, stocking an entire planet with an enormous collection of art from across all space and time --- would make a great destination for Capaldi, and would also explain why Matt Smith said he recognised him. Irving Braxiatel, that was the name.

  • 1
    Lungbarrow was non-canon. We saw the Doctor and the Master as small children in The Sound Of Drums; that couldn't have happened if anything in Lungbarrow was real.
    – Mr Lister
    Nov 24, 2013 at 13:53

It has been pointed out that Peter Capaldi has already appeared on the show as another character during the episode set in Pompeii. It has also been stated that the issue would not be ignored and will be explained.

You can read about it at this link that I randomly chose from a Google search:


I guess that as soon as they get around explaining it on the show we will all know who Tom Baker was playing in the 50th anniversary special.

My guess is that the Doctor mimics the faces of people that he's met throughout his life upon regenerating for whatever reason that Steven Moffat will choose to provide us with. I reckon he's just the person whose face he mimicked upon his fourth regeneration but older.

I could be wrong though.

Cheers :)


As there is no canon explanation, it appears ato be a meta fictional conversation between Tom Baker and Matt Smith. Rectifying the appearance of The Curator and the ensuing conversation within the fiction might be difficult. If you see this scene as the two respective actors speaking out of character, it makes more sense.

The Curator/Tom Baker: If I were you [chuckles], if I were you...

Well, Tom Baker was The Doctor

The Curator/Tom Baker: You might find yourself revisiting some old faces in the future...

I interpret this as a meta-fictional statement to Matt Smith and us as the viewers that we may find ourselves rewatching some of our favorite episodes thus "revisiting some old faces"

So to answer your question, Tom Baker is Tom Baker in this scene.

I acknowledge that this may not be the type of answer that fans would like (i.e., a concrete, canon, in-universe explanation), but it's Steven Moffat's style to take these type of artistic liberties that nearly break the "fourth wall" and leave it up to fans to interpret it. The explanation of how Sherlock Holmes survived in the 3rd Series is another such example.


Perhaps it is a set-up for a potential future story. Crossing timelines has affected his past some way that he doesn't know of yet. His past incarnations timelines have changed which could explain why the 4th Doctor is older and why the 12th now has forgotten his face. Maybe?


He has met the curator before and has decided to regenerate to that face (aka the 4th doctor). Same as how the Peter Capaldi regeneration is explained as he remembers the face from Fires of Pompeii. So in short it wasn't the 4th doctor but a face that the Doctor copied for regeneration.

  • Welcome to Science Fiction and Fantasy! It looks like your answer is quite anecdotal, do you have any more information to add? Here added references to the points you make would help back up your answer :)
    – AncientSwordRage
    Nov 24, 2013 at 13:59

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.