Stand up comedian - improviser - writer
  • 12 Actors Who Could Play the 12th Doctor (But Won’t)

    Sat 29 Jun 2013  ·  2:16AM

    As I write this, the BBC and Steven Moffat’s search for the next Doctor is in full swing, with multiple names swirling through the media maelstrom, each as unlikely as the last.

    So, I thought that if “unlikely” is the primary criteria, perhaps I should get involved. Here are twelve actors (in no particular order) that I think could make a great twelfth Doctor, but will almost definitely never do it.

     1)      David Mitchell

    Pros:
    Older than Smith. Has a mind for logic. History of sketch performance will help create the character. Has showed his range on Peep Show. Fan of the show.
    Cons:
    His voice has appeared on the show before in “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. Various other commitments.
    Reasoning:
    An incredibly popular choice online. Many fans would like him to take the role. Is often the smartest person and sharpest mind on any television show, so he’s had great practice of being the Doctor already. Also, he certainly isn’t the conventional choice for an action/sci-fi hero, but then neither is the Doctor, so it’s a perfect fit.
    Fate:
    Has already dismissed his own chances when the subject was raised on 10 O’clock Live. That show, along with various other television commitments will ultimately make it difficult for him to ever take the role. Shame...

    2)      Rupert Grint

    Pros:
    Good actor. Seemingly available. Ginger.
    Cons:
    Too young. Possible fears of being typecast.
    Reasoning:
    About three weeks before Matt Smith’s departure was announced, I was having a pub conversation with friends about who the next Doctor should be, and Grint’s was the name that came to me. I was therefore most surprised when – following the announcement of Smith’s imminent departure – Grint emerged as a strong favourite with bookies and fans alike. He was certainly the strongest actor of the Potter trio, yet has done relatively little since the franchise came to an end. What better way to break your public-association with one character, than to play another of equal fame? Also, the Doctor could, finally, get his wish to be ginger.
    Fate:
    Too young to be Matt Smith’s immediate successor. In my opinion, the 12th Doctor needs to be around 45-55 years old, following the youth of the previous two leads. However, when the 13th Doctor is required, I think Grint should be top of the list.

    3)      Hugh Laurie

    Pros:
    Similar age to Alex Kingston – less of a Mrs Robinson effect. Back in Britain after years in America. Obviously a great actor, but also a great comedian.
    Cons:
    Has just spent several years playing another Doctor; may not wish to commit to another long-term role.
    Reasoning:
    Since the end of House, Hugh Laurie has become one of those wish-list actors whose name appears every time a role like this becomes available. There’s no doubt that his performances in both drama and comedy make him a strong contender if he actually wanted the job, and many fans would love him to take it. It might also be nice to see him playing a Doctor with an English accent for a while. His casting would also give a mega boost to the show’s audience in America, where Laurie remains a major TV superstar.
    Fate:
    Next to no chance. If Laurie gets the gig, it’d be the biggest surprise in recent television history. He’s just too famous – he’s actually bigger than the show at this point. David Tennant is The Doctor. Matt Smith is The Doctor. If he was cast, The Doctor would be Hugh Laurie, and it can’t be that way round; the character can’t be lost to the star.

    4)      Rhys Ifans

    Pros:
    Fabulously weird. Brilliant in pretty much everything. Unique. Welsh, so not averse to moving to Cardiff. “Chicks love grey.”
    Cons:
    Hasn’t done much television, and seems unlikely to do much more, based on career.
    Reasoning:
    The Doctor needs to be played by someone who’s utterly unique and somewhat weird, but equally someone you wouldn’t give a second glance to if you passed him in the street. Rhys Ifans is that man.
    Fate:
    Unlikely to happen, as Ifans mostly concentrates on film roles. Having said that, he has taken a guest-star role as Mycroft Holmes in the American series, Elementary, so perhaps the door is open for regular television work.

    5)      Gary Oldman

    Pros:
    Superb actor. Creates great characters. Perfect age to follow Matt Smith. Similar age to Alex Kingston. Huge international appeal to boost show’s profile.
    Cons:
    Too famous – unlikely to give up film acting for television.
    Reasoning:
    Oldman has created some fantastic characters in his career, and he could never be accused of just playing himself; completely different in every role, he’s the perfect actor to play a man who can change his face. Had the show still been on in the 90s, I sincerely doubt that he’d need to be on this list, as he’d have already had the part.
    Fate:
    Oldman would be a dream casting, but I fear that’s all it will ever be.

    6)      Iain Glen

    Pros:
    Great actor. World-weary appearance. Restrained performer – perfect to follow the rapid-tongue of Tennant and the freneticism of Smith. Not a household name in Britain. Similar age to Alex Kingston.
    Cons
    Has previously appeared on the show in “The Crash of the Byzantium” two-parter. Unavailable due to Game of Thrones commitments.
    Reasoning:
    Would be my #1 choice for the job, had he not appeared previously. Sufficiently older than Matt Smith to be distinct, but not so old that he wouldn’t be able to partake in actions scenes. Also a fine actor, with the look of a man who’s optimistic despite having seen too much war and suffering.
    Fate:
    Sadly, he’ll probably never get the role. That’s the punishment for being too memorable as a supporting character to a previous Doctor.

    7)      Tony Head

    Pros:
    Great actor. Has a history in the genre. More mature appearance is the perfect contrast to Smith. Can play both the “silent watcher” and the “heroic clown”.
    Cons:
    Has previously appeared on the show in “School Reunion” as a villain. Perhaps fractionally too old; currently 59, we’d probably be looking for the 13th Doctor in just a few years.
    Reasoning:
    In his previous appearance on the show, Head’s villainous headmaster had a great battle of words with Tennant’s Doctor, so we know he’s a match for the hero.
    His portrayal of Giles on Buffy The Vampire Slayer is probably the closest we’ll ever come to seeing him take up residence in the TARDIS.
    Fate:
    Would’ve been great a few years ago, when fresh off Buffy. His previous appearance is the biggest obstacle preventing him from taking the role.

    8)      Colin Salmon

    Pros:
    Similar age to Alex Kingston. Wants to play a recurring hero role (i.e. James Bond). Willing to do TV. Still very agile, as proved by his appearance on Strictly Come Dancing. Major cool factor. English Gentleman.
    Cons:
    Has appeared on the show before as Doctor Moon. Possible commitment to Arrow (though that show seems willing to kill off characters if necessary).
    Reasoning:
    The concept of the Doctor being black seems (quite rightly) to no longer be considered controversial; the problem is that most black British actors being suggested have already appeared on the show in fairly substantial roles. Colin Salmon is no different, but with him, there is an opportunity for clever story-telling. He previously appeared as Doctor Moon in the “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead” storyline – but what if the digital-appearance of all Doctor Moons was based upon the 12th Doctor’s likeness? After all, if you’re designing software to protect and heal a planet-wide computer system, who else would base its likeness on, other than a Doctor who protects planets? A cunning time-travel story-opportunity, presented by the choice of actor.
    Salmon is a good actor, with great charisma. Holds himself with authority and command, which would be useful as the Doctor. His time on Strictly also suggests that he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
    Fate:

    Unlikely to get the role due to his previous appearance, but if he did, that appearance could be explained away.

    9)      Will Mellor

    Pros:
    Good actor, yet to find the role that could really define him.
    Cons:
    Strong northern accent – perhaps too similar to Christopher Ecclestone’s.
    Reasoning:
    Mellor has been a great performer for a long time, but he’s generally known to most as “that bloke from Two Pints of Lager...” This role could be his chance to really make his name. Perhaps slightly younger than I would say is ideal for someone following Matt Smith, yet he has many of the characteristics necessary for the Doctor. Unconventionally handsome, kind-but-wise eyes, and experience of playing both comedy and drama.
    Fate:
    One of the few, reasonably well  known, British actors yet to appear on the show since it came back, which gives him a foot in the door. However, I’d be surprised if we had another Doctor so obviously from the north of England, so soon after Christopher Ecclestone.

    10)   Richard Ayoade

    Pros:
    Unique appearance. Off-beat persona. Dry humour.
    Cons:
    Almost definitely unavailable. Moving out of acting into directing. Highly recognisable as Moss  from The IT Crowd. Probably not old enough to follow Smith.
    Reasoning:
    It’s difficult to deny that, on paper, Ayoade is a perfect choice. Unusual, nerdy, and witty, but with the potential to be deadly serious; everything the Doctor needs.
    Fate:
    The trouble is that Ayoade is perhaps too obvious; it would be a struggle for people to disassociate him from his IT Crowd character, without changing everything that makes him the perfect Doctor. Also, his current move towards directing makes it unlikely that he’s looking to take on such a time consuming acting gig.

    11)   Ben Chaplin

    Pros:
    Right age. Typically handsome. Sophisticated charm.
    Cons:
    Perhaps too handsome? Not weird enough to be a Time Lord.
    Reasoning:
    Plenty of acting experience but not a household name. Recent appearance in Channel 4’s Dates is exactly the kind of project (single series; profile boosting; key-but-not-starring role) that someone about to be cast as The Doctor would be involved in. Could provide the Doctor with a level of sophistication he’s not had since Jon Pertwee, while still letting the clownish side out on occasion.
    Fate:
    Curious one. I doubt he’s been approached, or that he even wants to be, but he would actually be an interesting choice. Something completely different to any of the Doctor’s since 2005, and in the ideal age range for Matt Smith’s successor. As I said, I’m not expecting anyone on this list to actually get the role, but I would not be disappointed if Chaplin did.

    12)   Tom Young

    Pros:
    Available. Loves the show. Unknown face. Unusual/alien physique. Has already planned costume.
    Cons:

    Uncertain of own acting talent. Too young to replace Smith.
    Reasoning:

    Did you really think I’d leave myself out of this? It’s the only acting role I actually want, and the only thing that could potentially stop me doing stand up for any length of time. I would also be willing to stay in the role for many years, as my lack of ambition to tackle other parts would keep me around. However, despite many years of improv, I still don’t consider myself an actor; I would never take the role unless I was definitely good enough. Full audition process required!
    Fate:

    No chance of being the 12th Doctor - it would be unwise to follow the youngest ever incarnation with someone even younger. Also unlikely to get the role without having risen to prominence on the stand up circuit first. I’ll seek acting lessons; then ask me again when casting the Doctor’s 15th or 16th incarnation.


    I’ll conclude by affirming that I’m fully expectant that the new Doctor will be either a complete, or a relative unknown, thus making all of the names on this list (bar myself, coincidentally) irrelevant.

    For those who scrolled to the bottom without reading the whole article, what I do expect is that the next Doctor will be:

    • 45-55 years old
    • Male
    • British
    • Less frenetic than Smith’s Doctor

    And long may he helm the TARDIS (even if it’s not to where he wants to go).

    N.B. Both Rory Kinnear and Toby Stephens are omitted from this list, as I think both are in with a shout of actually landing the role. They're both a bit too young though...