List of actors considered for the part of the Doctor
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Geoffrey Bayldon told Doctor Who Magazine that he had declined the role. He would later play an alternative version of the 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. David later became a director and, in that capacity, worked on the Second Doctor serials The Highlanders (1966–7) and Fury from the Deep.
Leslie French was considered for the role. He later appeared in the Seventh Doctor serial Silver Nemesis (1988) as Lady Peinforte's mathematician. The role of the First Doctor went to William Hartnell.
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. Rupert Davies, Valentine Dyall and Sir Michael Hordern were all approached for the role but none wanted to commit to a long-running series. 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). Peter Cushing was also offered the role, but declined and later regretted his decision. He appeared in the big-screen versions of Doctor Who in Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. (1966). The role of the Second Doctor went to Patrick Troughton.
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, 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 and Fulton Mackay, who had previously played Dr. Quinn in Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970). 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. The role of the Fourth Doctor went to Tom Baker.
The role of the Sixth Doctor was offered to Colin Baker without an audition. No auditions were held for the role, as Baker was the first choice.
The final three actors considered for the role were Sylvester McCoy, Ken Campbell and Chris Jury. 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, though many years later he disclosed that he had never known that he had been on the shortlist for the role.
Dermot Crowley had also auditioned for the role. Andrew Sachs was offered the role of the Seventh Doctor but he turned it down later regretted it saying "it was one of his sad tales of failure in life" and hoped the offer came around again [better source needed]
Dawn French, Joanna Lumley, and Frances de la Tour were suggested by Sydney Newman in 1986 for the role, but were dismissed by the BBC. The role of the Seventh Doctor went to Sylvester McCoy.
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 (who appeared in the 2013 Doctor Who episode "Cold War"), Mark McGann (whose brother Paul McGann eventually got the role), 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. Billy Connolly has stated that he was also considered for the part. 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.
The role of the Eighth Doctor went to Paul McGann.
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. Moffat briefly considered casting Peter Capaldi. The role of the Eleventh Doctor went to Matt Smith.
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. Helen Mirren was suggested as potentials for the role of the Twelfth Doctor. According to Steven Moffat, the role was offered to a black actor before Peter Capaldi but it 'didn't work out'; Moffat has not revealed who the actor was. The role of the Twelfth Doctor went to Peter Capaldi.
When referring to if the new Doctor would be a woman, incoming Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall originally was quoted in February 2017, as saying "Nothing is ruled out but I don’t want the casting to be a gimmick and that’s all I can say”. The role of the Thirteenth Doctor went to Jodie Whittaker. She will be the first woman to play the Doctor in the television series. She had previously worked with Chibnall in Broadchurch. Chibnall said that he always wanted a woman for the part and that Whittaker was their first choice. Whittaker has said that other actresses auditioned for the part.
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. As of 2014, the location of the recording is unknown.
In 2013, Bill Nighy said that the BBC had approached him about the possibility of him playing the Doctor, but that he had declined, feeling that the role came with "too much baggage". Nighy did not specify when this occurred out of respect to the actor who was eventually cast.
In 2017, Alan Cumming said that he had been approached about playing the character on two occasions, once by Russell T Davies and once by Mark Gatiss, but that the deal-breaker both times had been his reluctance to relocate to Cardiff.
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