Print Editor Kitty Grant explores a range of actors who have the potential to play the iconic role of the Doctor as a regeneration becomes imminent
Since his first regeneration in 1966, the actor playing Doctor Who’s titular character has been a huge part of what makes the show special. Since Jodie Whitaker announced she will be stepping down from the role next year, fans have been speculating about who will be the next actor to play Britain’s favourite time traveller. Here are a few of our favourite picks:
After blowing audiences away in It’s A Sin, Olly Alexander has become the bookies’ favourite for the next doctor. He would make history as the first openly gay person to portray the doctor, and he has already proved his acting chops. Some fans worry he might be too young for the role, but there is no reason the Doctor has to be middle-aged or older – after all, Matt Smith was only 26 when he started in the role and quickly became a fan favourite.
Perhaps too big a star to sign-up for multiple seasons of the show, Tilda Swinton would make an excellent doctor nonetheless. Older women are often denied opportunities given to men of the same age, so casting a 60-year-old woman as the doctor would be an excellent statement from the BBC…plus Swinton was clearly born to play a humanesque alien.
Eccleston’s time as the ninth doctor was sadly cut short by his father’s illness, but there is no reason why he should not reprise his role. Bringing back a previous actor would add a new dimension to regeneration lore, but we all know how inconsistent the science of Doctor Who can be. Bringing Eccleston back would be a great opportunity to reintroduce fans to the man who brought the doctor back from the dead in 2005.
Another favourite with bookies, Michaela Coel has a strong international fanbase thanks to the successes of her shows Chewing Gum and I May Destroy You. Casting Coel would bring in a new generation of fans to the show, especially women of colour, who are often excluded from nerd culture. However, Coel’s recent casting in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and her success as a writer and director may leave her too busy for the role.
Ben Whishaw has been surprisingly absent from most Doctor Who prediction lists, but his roles in the recent James Bond films, A Very English Scandal, and the Paddington series have proved Whishaw is one of Britain’s brightest stars. Some of Whishaw’s characters are quite similar to David Tennant’s fan-favourite doctor, making him a safe bet, but the BBC would still be making a statement by casting an openly gay actor in the role.
Richard Ayoade’s comedic persona is already perfect for Doctor Who, so it is no wonder he is top of many fans’ lists to play the doctor. His role in The IT Crowd made him a household name and his character in the show, Maurice Moss, has become an icon of British TV. However, the BBC may worry that Ayoade’s doctor would struggle to form an identity of his own separate from The IT Crowd, but no doubt Ayoade would make the role his own.
Many actors decide to play the doctor as sarcastic, even mean at times, but Sally Hawkins could bring some kindness to the role. Perhaps best known for her roles as mothers in films such as Submarine and the Paddington series, Hawkins could bring a maternal quality to the doctor that would be a refreshing new take on the classic character.
For many young people, CBBC’s The Sarah Jane Adventures were their first introduction to the Whoniverse, so Knight, who played Luke in the show, would be a great way to bring back younger viewers. Since Luke was quite an important character in the Whoniverse, it would take some explaining as to why the doctor has taken his appearance, but given Peter Capaldi’s doctor acknowledged his actor’s previous appearance in the show, the science would check out. This would be a left-field choice, but could create some interesting links to Russel T. Davies’ Doctor Who, which was arguably the show’s peak.
There is so much more to Doctor Who than just the actor that plays the lead role, but after breaking boundaries with the first female doctor, the BBC should continue to innovate with its casting choice. Whoever is chosen will undoubtedly be met with scepticism from fans, but like always, they will soon work their way into our hearts.
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