List of actors considered for the part of the Doctor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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 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.[2]

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

Leslie French was considered for the role.[3] He later appeared in the Seventh Doctor serial Silver Nemesis (1988) as Lady Peinforte's mathematician.[4] 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.[5] Rupert Davies, Valentine Dyall and Sir Michael Hordern were all approached for the role but none wanted to commit to a long-running series.[6] 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.

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.[6] 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,[7] while Michael Bentine turned down the role when the production team felt he wanted too much influence over the series' scripts.[8] Other actors considered included Bernard Cribbins[9] and Fulton Mackay, who had previously played Dr. Quinn in Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970).[10] 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.[11] Also considered was Carry On actor Jim Dale.[12] 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.[13] The role of the Fifth Doctor went to Peter Davison.

Sixth Doctor[edit]

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.

Seventh Doctor[edit]

The final three actors considered for the role were Sylvester McCoy, Ken Campbell[14] and Chris Jury.[15] 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.[citation needed]

Dermot Crowley had also auditioned for the role.[16] 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 [17][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.[18][19][20] 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.[13]

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 he eventually declined involvement.[21]

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[22] (who appeared in the 2013 Doctor Who episode "Cold War"), Mark McGann (whose brother Paul McGann eventually got the role),[23] 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.[24] Billy Connolly has stated that he was also considered for the part.[25] 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.[26]

The role of the Eighth Doctor went to Paul McGann.

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.[27]

Producer Jane Tranter also considered casting Judi Dench as the Ninth Doctor.[28][29] The role of the Ninth Doctor went to Christopher Eccleston.

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.[30] Moffat briefly considered casting Peter Capaldi.[31] 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.[32] Helen Mirren was suggested as potentials for the role of the Twelfth Doctor.[33] 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.[34] The role of the Twelfth Doctor went to Peter Capaldi.

Thirteenth Doctor[edit]

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”.[35] The role of the Thirteenth Doctor went to Jodie Whittaker. She will be the first woman to play the Doctor in the television series.[36][37][38] She had previously worked with Chibnall in Broadchurch.[39] Chibnall said that he always wanted a woman for the part and that Whittaker was their first choice.[40] Whittaker has said that other actresses auditioned for the part.[41]

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. As of 2014, the location of the recording is unknown.[42]


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.[43]

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.[44]


  1. ^ a b DWM 391 – Verity Lambert obituary
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide – Silver Nemesis – Details". BBC. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  5. ^ Hawkes, Rebecca (5 August 2014). "Brian Blessed: I said no to Doctor Who". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Who could've been Who? An alternate history of Doctor Who". Den of Geek. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  7. ^ Graham Crowden – Biography
  8. ^
  9. ^ Outpost Gallifrey: Doctor Who RSS News Feed
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "h2g2 – Doctor Who – The Tom Baker Years 1974 – 1981". BBC. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  13. ^ a b BBC – Drama Faces – Richard Griffiths
  14. ^ "Archive – The Changing Face of Doctor Who – Nearly Who". BBC. p. 12. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  15. ^ "Archive – The Changing Face of Doctor Who – Nearly Who". BBC. p. 14. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  16. ^ "Archive – The Changing Face of Doctor Who – Nearly Who". BBC. p. 13. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Horne, Marc (October 10, 2010). "How Doctor Who nearly became the Time Lady". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  19. ^ Peck, Matthew Wace (October 10, 2010). "Joanna Lumley was set to be the first female Doctor Who". Digital Journal. Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  20. ^ Peck, Matthew Wace (August 3, 2013). "Op-Ed: Is the new Doctor Who a woman?". Digital Journal. Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  21. ^ "From The SFX Archive: Russell T Davies Meets Verity Lambert". SFX. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  22. ^ "Archive – The Changing Face of Doctor Who – Nearly Who". BBC. p. 15. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ Segal, Philip; Gary Russell (2000). Doctor Who:Regeneration. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-710591-6. 
  25. ^ "Billy was almost Doctor Who". The Sun. 2010-11-05. Retrieved 2012-08-28. 
  26. ^ Bates, Philip (1 August 2014). "Capaldi could've been the Eighth Doctor!". Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  27. ^ Cult – News – Hugh Grant to appear in 'Doctor Who'? – Digital Spy
  28. ^ BBC Wanted Tom Baker or Judi Dench for Doctor Who Archived 9 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  29. ^ "Joanna Lumley was set to be the first female Doctor Who". 10 October 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017. 
  30. ^ Kelly, Stephen P. (30 April 2013). "Russell Tovey: Doctor Who role would have terrified me". Radio Times. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  31. ^ "Peter Capaldi revealed as Doctor Who's new lead". BBC. 4 August 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  32. ^ "Ben Daniels Was Considered for 12th Doctor". 17 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  33. ^ Alderman, Naomi (3 June 2013). "Doctor Who: bring on a woman". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 July 2017. 
  34. ^
  35. ^ Clarke, Andrew (27 February 2017). "Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall creates laughs at the New Wolsey". East Anglian Times. Retrieved 18 July 2017. 
  36. ^ "Doctor Who: Jodie Whittaker is to replace Peter Capaldi in the Time Lord regeneration game". The Daily Telegraph. 16 July 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2017. 
  37. ^ "The next Doctor Who has been announced". The Independent. 16 July 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2017. 
  38. ^ "Doctor Who's 13th Time Lord to be a woman". BBC. 16 June 2017. Retrieved 16 June 2017. 
  39. ^ "Doctor Who: Jodie Whittaker becomes 13th Time Lord, urging fans 'not to be scared by my gender'". The Telegraph. 17 July 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017. 
  40. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (16 July 2017). "'Doctor Who': Jodie Whittaker Revealed As 13th Time Lord, First Female In Role". Deadline Hollywood. 
  41. ^ Harrison, Ellie (2017-08-31). "Jodie Whittaker was up against other actresses to play the first female Doctor". Radio Times. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  42. ^ Richard Bignell, "Journey Into Time", Nothing at the End of the Lane #3, January 2012
  43. ^ "Bill Nighy turned down the role of Doctor Who". Daily Express. 13 August 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2016. 
  44. ^ Frost, Caroline (5 June 2017). "'The Good Wife' Star Alan Cumming Reveals He Was Offered Role Of 'Doctor Who', But There Was A Deal-Breaker". HuffPost. Retrieved 6 June 2017.