List of actors considered for the part of the Doctor

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Many actors have been considered for the part of The Doctor in Doctor Who. The following is a list of actors who have been linked to the role.

First Doctor[edit]

Geoffrey Bayldon told Doctor Who Magazine that he had declined the role.[citation needed] He would later play an alternative version of the First Doctor in two plays for the Doctor Who Unbound series of audio plays by Big Finish Productions: Auld Mortality (2003) and A Storm of Angels (2005). Furthermore, he played Organon in the Fourth Doctor serial The Creature from the Pit (1979).

Hugh David was the choice of Rex Tucker, who was the series' "caretaker producer" before the arrival of Verity Lambert. Lambert rejected this idea on the grounds that at 38, Hugh was too young.[1] David later became a director and, in that capacity, worked on the Second Doctor serials The Highlanders (1966-7) and Fury from the Deep.

Alan Webb was then offered the role but declined, as did Cyril Cusack.[1]

Leslie French was considered for the role. He later appeared in the Seventh Doctor serial Silver Nemesis (1988) as Lady Peinforte's mathematician.[2] The role of the First Doctor went to William Hartnell.

Second Doctor[edit]

Brian Blessed was offered the role, but declined because of scheduling conflicts; he would go on to play King Yrcanos in the Sixth Doctor serial The Trial of a Time Lord.[3] Rupert Davies, Valentine Dyall and Michael Hordern were all approached for the role but none wanted to commit to a long-running series.[4] Dyall would later play the Black Guardian in the television stories The Armageddon Factor (1979), Mawdryn Undead (1983), Terminus (1983) and Enlightenment (1983) and Slarn in the audio drama Slipback (1985). The role of the Second Doctor went to Patrick Troughton.

Third Doctor[edit]

Ron Moody was said to be the producers' choice after his success in Oliver! but he turned down the role, which he later regretted.[4] The role of the Third Doctor went to Jon Pertwee.

Fourth Doctor[edit]

Graham Crowden, who would later play Soldeed in The Horns of Nimon (1979-1980), turned down the role as he did not wish to commit himself to a long-term role,[5] while Michael Bentine turned down the role when the production team felt he wanted too much influence over the series' scripts. Other actors considered included Bernard Cribbins[6] and Fulton Mackay, who had previously played Dr. Quinn in Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970).[7] Richard Hearne was offered the role but his insistence that he play the part in the style of his 'Mr Pastry' character was not acceptable to the series' producer, Barry Letts. Also considered was Carry On actor Jim Dale.[8] The role of the Fourth Doctor went to Tom Baker.

Fifth Doctor[edit]

Richard Griffiths was considered by producers for the role when Tom Baker left.[9] The role of the Fifth Doctor went to Peter Davison.

Seventh Doctor[edit]

The final three actors considered for the role were Sylvester McCoy, Ken Campbell[10] and Chris Jury.[11] While Campbell's portrayal was considered too dark for the series, Jury was remembered by the production team and cast as Kingpin in 1988's The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.[citation needed]

Dermot Crowley had also auditioned for the role.[12] The role of the Seventh Doctor went to Sylvester McCoy.

Eighth Doctor[edit]

Had the show continued past 1989, the producers were again considering Richard Griffiths for the role of the Eighth Doctor.[9]

In the early 1990s, the BBC approached Verity Lambert to revive the show. Lambert wanted Peter Cook to play the new Doctor at the time, but she eventually declined involvement.[13]

Actors who auditioned for the role in the 1996 film included Rowan Atkinson (who played a spoof version of the Doctor in Curse of Fatal Death), Liam Cunningham[14] (who appeared in the 2013 Doctor Who episode Cold War), Mark McGann (whose brother, Paul McGann eventually got the role),[15] Robert Lindsay, Eric Idle, Tim McInnerny (who appeared in the 2008 Doctor Who episode "Planet of the Ood"), Nathaniel Parker, Peter Woodward, John Sessions (who later played Tannis in the audio drama Death Comes to Time, and voiced Gus in the 2014 Doctor Who episode Mummy on the Orient Express), Anthony Head (who appeared in the 2006 Doctor Who episode "School Reunion", narrated episodes of the Doctor Who Confidential behind-the-scenes series, and provided voice-acting work for both the televised The Infinite Quest and the Excelis story arc from Big Finish Productions), Rik Mayall and Tony Slattery.[16] Billy Connolly has stated that he was also considered for the part.[17] Peter Capaldi was invited to audition, but declined, as he "didn't think [he] would get it, and... didn't want to just be part of a big cull of actors." Capaldi was eventually cast as the Twelfth Doctor.[18]

Ninth Doctor[edit]

Hugh Grant (who also played a spoof version of the Doctor in Curse of Fatal Death) has stated that he turned down the role and expressed his regret once he saw how the show turned out.[19]

Producer Jane Tranter also considered casting Judi Dench as the Ninth Doctor.[20] The role of the Ninth Doctor went to Christopher Eccleston.

Tenth Doctor[edit]

David Walliams and Bill Nighy were considered for the role of the Tenth Doctor but they both refused. The role went to David Tennant

Eleventh Doctor[edit]

Russell Tovey auditioned and screen-tested for the part of the Eleventh Doctor, having been recommended to Steven Moffat's new production team by outgoing showrunner Russell T Davies.[21] The role of the Eleventh Doctor went to Matt Smith.

Twelfth Doctor[edit]

Ben Daniels revealed to Digital Spy that he had been included on a shortlist of actors in the running for the role, but was not the production team's first choice.[22] The role of the Twelfth Doctor went to Peter Capaldi.

Radio plays[edit]

Boris Karloff was approached to play the Doctor for a proposed radio series by Stanmark Productions in the late 1960s. Karloff declined, and Peter Cushing was hired to reprise his film version of "Dr. Who" for a pilot episode titled "Journey Into Time" that was recorded, but the BBC passed on the series. The recording as of 2014 is considered lost.[23]


  1. ^ a b DWM 391 - Verity Lambert obituary
  2. ^ "Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Silver Nemesis - Details". BBC. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  3. ^ Hawkes, Rebecca (5 August 2014). "Brian Blessed: I said no to Doctor Who". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Who could've been Who? An alternate history of Doctor Who". Den of Geek. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  5. ^ Graham Crowden - Biography
  6. ^ Outpost Gallifrey: Doctor Who RSS News Feed
  7. ^
  8. ^ "h2g2 - Doctor Who - The Tom Baker Years 1974 - 1981". BBC. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  9. ^ a b BBC - Drama Faces - Richard Griffiths
  10. ^ "Archive - The Changing Face of Doctor Who - Nearly Who". BBC. p. 12. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  11. ^ "Archive - The Changing Face of Doctor Who - Nearly Who". BBC. p. 14. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  12. ^ "Archive - The Changing Face of Doctor Who - Nearly Who". BBC. p. 13. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  13. ^ "From The SFX Archive: Russell T Davies Meets Verity Lambert". SFX. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "Archive - The Changing Face of Doctor Who - Nearly Who". BBC. p. 15. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Segal, Philip; Gary Russell (2000). Doctor Who:Regeneration. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-710591-6. 
  17. ^ "Billy was almost Doctor Who". The Sun. 2010-11-05. Retrieved 2012-08-28. 
  18. ^ Bates, Philip (1 August 2014). "Capaldi could’ve been the Eighth Doctor!". Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  19. ^ Cult - News - Hugh Grant to appear in 'Doctor Who'? - Digital Spy
  20. ^ BBC Wanted Tom Baker or Judi Dench for Doctor Who
  21. ^ Kelly, Stephen P. (30 April 2013). "Russell Tovey: Doctor Who role would have terrified me". Radio Times. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  22. ^ "Ben Daniels Was Considered for 12th Doctor". 17 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  23. ^ Richard Bignell, "Journey Into Time", Nothing at the End of the Lane #3, January 2012