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The Next Doctor

So Peter Capaldi is leaving Doctor Who. I think that's a shame. I was greatly pleased when he was announced (so pleased in fact that I almost managed to scrub Rufus Hounds's pathetic pretence at being a 'superfan' from my memory) and I think he's been a good Doctor. He hasn't always had the strongest writing, but his acting and on screen presence has been excellent. His finest hour was 'Heaven Sent', undoubtedly one of the best ever Who stories.

Now it's time to think of a replacement. This is the sort of thing you can put bets on. (Question for scholars of Who and betting: Which new Doctor casting was the first to be covered by a high street or online bookmaker? How far back does this sort of thing go?)

I was greatly amused by this article from the Daily Mash, which pleasingly takes the piss out of those Doctor Who fans (and politicians) who maintain that the next Doctor "has to be" a woman. Harriet Harman even "demanded" that the next Doctor should be female. This woman used to be Deputy Prime Minister for god's sake. It's a good job that there's nothing else going on in the world for feminists to worry about at the moment... Thankfully nobody ever listened to her when she was a member of the government, and now she's a backbench member of one of the least popular opposition parties in history, really nobody listens to her at all except to poke fun at her when she says something stupid like this. Our actual Prime Minister Theresa May was also asked about this (she's a Who fan apparently (allegedly)) but replied rather more sensibly that it was for the programme-makers to decide. Having a state television company is bad enough, it would be really absurd if the Prime Minister was consulted on casting decisions...

You know what though? Go onto the more annoying parts of social media and search for #nextdoctorwho or whatever the appropriate shortcut is, and what do you find? Plenty of sensible suggestions (including some interesting leftfield ones, plenty of joke suggestions, plenty of people saying that it should be them (!), and unfortunately plenty of people saying that it has to be a woman and that anyone who disagrees is clearly a "misogynist". I really hope this isn't going to go on for the next few months.

I'm going to say it. I think making the Doctor female would be absurd. It was bad enough that they did it with the Master and turned a brilliant archenemy into a comedy freakshow (mind you, they did this with the Sontarans too). Making the Doctor female would be jumping the shark. It would hammer the ratings. Those fans (and 'fans') demanding a female Doctor might be loud and obnoxious, but they just aren't that common. Those who are into science fiction probably watch already. So making the Doctor female would gain no new viewers. But it would lose millions.

(And another thing it would lose: a positive male role model for young boys. A male hero who always tries to do the right thing, who prefers to avoid violence, who solves problems by being clever, who is brave, self-sacrificing and noble. If you are concerned about making society better (that 'social justice' thing that people are always talking about) then think about what happens when you remove one of the more obvious positive male role models for young boys.)


I do appreciate that there are fans who want to see an actress in the lead role in Doctor Who.

So I have a compromise. And, if I say so myself, it's brilliant.

Picture this: The Doctor's next regeneration goes badly. And so for the next series or two or three, he is only occasionally able to manifest physically. He is helped through this difficult regeneration by an old companion, who becomes the show's lead character. The Doctor himself is at best a companion, and in many stories would be completely absent. And the old companion?


So that would give Mr Chibnall two casting decisions. (Three if you add a companion, perhaps a male companion for Romana.) He would have to cast the next Doctor and the next Romana.

Whaddya think?

While we're at it, here are my thoughts on the various actors and actresses tipped for the role. Since I hate the idea of a female Doctor, then I'm obviously talking about the actresses in the context of playing Romana.

  • Olivia Colman. I like Olivia Colman. (She was fabulous in The Night Manager.) She'd make a good Romana. Since she's the star of Chibnall's big crime series Broadchurch (with David Tennant as her 'companion'), it's just too obvious though.

  • Reece Shearsmith. The short one from The League of Gentlemen. Maybe too well known? Also, I associate him mostly with comedy roles. I'd be concerned about his ability to do the really serious stuff that being the Doctor requires from time to time.

  • Ben Wishaw. No. He's a good Q in the Bond films, but that's already a very Doctor-like role. And again, could he do the serious scenes?

  • Richard Ayoade. God no. I'm a huge IT Crowd fan (and he's hilarious in that), but I've seen him in other things (even as himself presenting gadget programmes), and he only plays himself. Would be a terrible choice.

  • Andrew Buchan. Had to look this name up. Also in Broadchurch, so Chibnall knows him. But he was also the Great Zambini in 'The Last Dragonslayer' and he was quite good in that. He's probably got the right level of fame (i.e. not actually that famous), so this one (if I was a betting man) might even be worth a flutter at 10/1.

  • Richard Madden. Robb Stark from Game of Thrones. Also Jenna Coleman's ex. While he doesn't seem to be doing much now, this seems unlikely to me. Also,I think he looks too young. (I though that about Matt Smith too.)

  • Rory Kinnear. Another one from the Bond films, and also Frankenstein's monster in Penny Dreadful. I think he's a very good actor, and I think he would be good on screen. However, he's on record as saying he's not a Doctor Who fan and has never even seen the show. The lead actor has to be an ambassador for the show. Capaldi (a huge fan) was great at this. Kinnear seemingly wouldn't be.

  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Broadchurch again, and not much else. I've never watched Broadchurch, so I don't know her at all. A google image search suggests a look that could work for my Romana though (as well as some truly terrible red carpet dress sense...)

  • Idris Elba. His name comes up every sodding time, not just for the next Doctor but for the next James Bond. (The same people who maintain that the next Doctor has to be female also think that the next James Bond has to be black. I can understand how a character who can regenerate can change skin colour, that's fine, but a black James Bond would be as ridiculous as a white Shaft.) I'll admit that I haven't seen much of this actor. I never watched Luther or The Wire. I mostly know him from the Sky Boxed Sets adverts. His 'sarfeast' accent is truly hideous in that. So, no, not for me.

  • Chris Addison. He's brilliantly funny getting shouted at and called a "f***ing knitted scarf" by Peter Capaldi in The Thick of It, but he looks too young (and too gormless) to be The Doctor. He's also the sort of celebrity capable of making social media comments that turn out to be stupid because he didn't bother to do basic research, but to be fair to the guy, he admitted his mistake and apologised. Which makes him nobler than most celebrities in this age of fake news.

  • Gwendoline Christie. Brienne of Tarth. She's superb in Game of Thrones. (She's also the best example of 'Hollywood ugly' I can think of. Seriously, "Brienne is distinctly unfeminine in appearance, and is considered extremely unattractive by Westerosi standards. She is very tall, muscular, flat-chested and ungainly, with straw-colored hair and broad, coarse features that are covered in freckles... Her mouth is wide, her lips are swollen, and her nose has been broken more than once.) I think she'd be great as Romana, although I'd hate to see her leave GoT.

  • James Norton. Don't know him at all. He was in the Doctor Who story 'Cold War', but didn't make an impression. Seems to be a bit of a pinup. Too posh and too hunky for the Doctor?

  • Alexander Vlahos. Mordred in Merlin. He's Welsh, so that's something. He's done some audio work for Big Finish too, including 'The Diary of River Song'. I quite like this suggestion.

  • Adrian Lester. (Actually, we should say 'Adrian Lester, OBE'.) Mostly famous for Hustle (which I never watched), but no doubt got his OBE for lots of Shakespeare on the stage. I'm not familiar with his work, but he clearly has the acting chops to play the Doctor. Could be a decent choice.

  • Sacha Dhawan. OK, I'd generally prefer an older actor rather than a younger one, but of the younger ones mentioned, this guy could be great. And he's not that young. He was in The History Boys, and he played Doctor Who's first director Waris Hussein in that drama about how Doctor Who started. Yes. Definitely yes.

  • Robert Carlyle. From Hamish Macbeth and Trainspotting and The Full Monty. No. Surely too big a star.

  • Andrew Scott. Moriarty in Sherlock and also a Bond baddie. Difficult to see him as a good guy.

  • Helena Bonham Carter. Could have been a good Romana in the past, but now probably just too big a film star for it to happen.

  • Sheridan Smith OBE. No. I know people see her as a good, dramatic actress now, but a) she's got form for being difficult and flaky and b) I can't see her as anything other than Janet in the Runcorn sitcom "Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps". I can't see her as a Time Lord.

  • Tom Hiddlestone. Not gonna happen. Excellent in The Night Manager, but just not going to happen. Also, just too handsome.

  • Eddie Redmayne OBE. Again, not going to happen. Actors who win Oscars and star in blockbuster movies don't decide to do television at the peak of their careers.

  • Miranda Hart. I despair that she is even on this list. Star of a tragically unfunny sitcom where most of the humour seems to be based on two things - 1) she's ugly and 2) she's clumsy.

  • Damian Lewis OBE. Homeland, Band of Brothers and Henry VIII in Wolf Hall. Never seen him in any of them or in anything else, so can't really comment.

  • Hugh Bonneville. Has been in Doctor Who, but is most famous as the star of Downton Abbey (well, that and his [CENSORED!!!]). Nope.

  • Hayley Atwell. Don't know her at all, although I see that she's done some Who on radio. Looks far too young.

  • Kris Marshall. Really? He's most famous for starring in a serious of famously hated adverts for BT. No, no, no, no.

  • James Corden. You really think a massively successful US chat show host will give all that up to be the Doctor? Obviously he's been in Who before, but he wasn't actually that good then. Thankfully not going to happen.

  • Kathy Burke. Waynetta Slob? Pur-lease.

  • Stephen Fry. God no. He's capable of being a very good actor. However, too often, his full time job of 'being Stephen Fry' gets in the way. Would be a disastrous choice.

  • Benedict Cumberbatch. Not now. Could have done it in the past, but he's too famous now. Also Sherlock is too close to the Doctor as a character. (I also question his range - all his parts seem to look and sound the same, whether it's Sherlock or Khan. I suppose he looked different as Smaug.) One day someone will film Neil Gaiman's Sandman stories and hopefully cast him as Dream.

  • Sam Heughan. From Outlander (which I've not seen) and little else. Don't know him at all, but looks too young and hunky to be the Doctor.

  • Lara Pulver. Irene Adler in Sherlock. Not seen her in anything else, but she was good in that. Would make a good Romana. (Except possibly that she looks ever so slighly like Mary Tamm.)

  • Domnhall Gleeson. General Hux in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. To be honest he was very forgettable in that. Meh.

  • Aneurin Barnard. Never heard of him. Don't know him. Looks far too young.

  • Ioan Gruffudd. Hornblower. Also some superhero films. Maybe. Could work. Seems unlikely though for an actor getting regular Hollywood roles.

  • Bertie Carvel. Jonathan Strange. He was pretty good in that, and he's had a minor role in Doctor Who before. Could work. Certainly looks the part. A more conventional choice.

  • Jack Davenport. Star of the Stephen Moffatt sitcom Coupling and a major supporting part in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Career seems to be on a bit of a downward slope, and recent Doctor castings have been actors on the up (even Capaldi). Never seems to play charismatic figures.

  • Nikesh Patel. Never heard of him and he doesn't have a wikipedia page. IMDB doesn't list anything for him that I've heard of let alone seen (well ok, a couple of small parts in Law and Order UK and Midsomer Murders). Seems so obscure compared to the other names on this list that I wonder if someone has some inside information.

  • Tom Hardy. Bane and Mad Max. Way too big a star for this to happen.

  • Sue Perkins. Someone is having a laugh.

  • Tom Hughes. Prince Albert to Jenna Coleman's Victoria. Looks far, far too young.

  • Navin Chawdhry. Had a minor role in Christopher Eccleston's series. Not seen him in anything else. Meh.

  • Shaun Evans. The young Morse in Endeavour. Maybe the right sort of look, but maybe the young Morse would be too similar to a young-looking Doctor.

  • Matthew Baynton. He was actually someone I mentioned to bunn as a potential Doctor. He was excellent in You, Me and the Apocalypse. Yes, he's one of the younger candidates, but I think he might be quirky enough to pull it off. He's also a writer though, and I wonder if he'd feel that becoming the Doctor would be too much of a full time thing.

  • Rebecca Root. Seems to be very obscure with only a handful of credits. Some of those credits are from some years earlier, as Graham Root (do the maths...), which might explain why the name is on this list.

  • Michael Socha. Was in This is England as a thug, and Being Human as a werewolf. Looks like a thug. I just can't see him as the Doctor.

  • Amanda Mealing. Plays a glamorous doctor in Casualty and Holby City. Don't know her. Meh.

Those are all of the names on the Ladbrokes list at the moment. Others I've seen mentioned, or thought of myself would include:

  • Nina Sosanya. Has been in Doctor Who before, and was in Russell T. Davies's Casanova with David Tennant. Has been in quite a lot of stuff without ever being a major star. I think she'd be good for my Romana. We're sat here watching 'Portrait Artist of the Year' and she is one of the sitters that the contestants have to paint. One of the others is Richard E. Grant, and the other is Sue Perkins. Of these three, why is Sue Perkins the one on the list?

  • Richard E. Grant. Has twice been the Doctor (albeit non-canonically) as well as the embodiment of the Great Intelligence. He would have made a good Doctor, but he's missed his chance.

  • Tilda Swinton. The White Witch from Narnia. Lots of other film roles, so probably too big a star. Undoubtedly a good actress though. Maybe looks a bit too weird to be Romana. She'd be great as a villain though. (The Rani...?)

  • Maxine Peake. I mostly know her from Dinnerladies. God no. Really, god no. And not just because of that.

  • Roger Allam. Magister Illyrio in Game of Thrones and Peter Mannion in The Thick of It. I saw him suggested on Twitter. I'd love this. But seems unlikely. I suspect they'll choose someone younger.

  • Tom Ellis. Probably unlikely. Lucifer is great though, and he was also good in The Secret of Crickleigh Hall with Maisie Williams. He could play the Doctor I think. (He also had a smallish part in in Last of the Time Lords.)

  • Paterson Joseph. Supposedly he once turned the job down. While he was good in Neverwhere, he wasn't in You, Me and the Apocalypse and in any case I can't see him as any character other than Johnson in Peep Show.

  • David Morrissey. The next Doctor in 'The Next Doctor'. He was seriously suggested at the time, but I feel because of that part, it would just be too strange.

  • Final leftfield suggestion: Paul McGann. Do the next series as a flashback to the Eighth Doctor. I've always felt that the BBC owes Paul McGann. He was the Doctor for 90 minutes on screen, but hours and hours and hours on audio and for dozens of novels when the BBC didn't give a damn about the show. He was 'The Doctor' for quite a long time while the show was still cancelled. It's a shame that we can't now finish the series with him regenerating into John Hurt though...

So what do you think? Any suggestions of your own that Ladbrokes don't have?


Feb. 3rd, 2017 09:19 am (UTC)
Someone else I thought of who is spoken about as a potential Doctor and forgot to put in:

Chiwetel Ejiofor CBE. Mostly seems to do worthy highbrow stuff (and win awards for it) but most notable in SF terms as the bad guy in Serenity. Undoubtedly a good actor, but let's be honest - this is about as likely as him appearing in a new series of Firefly. He's simply too big a star.