TV Series

Who's Who for Doctor Number '13'?

By Cameron K McEwan

Earlier this week, the sad news that Peter Capaldi is to leave his role as the Twelfth Doctor was announced. This, as always, opens the doors for speculation on who will be the Thirteenth Doctor!

Collected below are some thoughts, opinions and, most importantly, suggestions on who should be piloting the TARDIS in Series 11 (due for broadcast in 2018). We spoke to some big names in the world of Whodom for their ideas - check them out below.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a purely speculative article, names are to be taken as opinion and not as fact.

Annette Badland, (Margaret Blaine / Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen in Doctor Who, Series 1)

"Idris Elba (if he isn't busy being the next Bond). Magnetic, energised, articulate, magical."

Rachel Talalay, director Doctor Who Series 8 and 9 finales

"My first response is one I'm stealing from a friend — Peter Capaldi should regenerate to Peter Capaldi. Then next choices would be Tank Girl or Furiosa, but that might just be my mood today."

Phil Ford, co-writer, The Waters of Mars and Into The Dalek

"I'm nominating Tom Ellis as the 13th Doctor.

For anybody who's caught him playing the Devil in Lucifer it won't be hard to see why. He can spin from laugh-out-loud funny to brown-pants scary on a sixpence. As an actor he has charm and intensity. And he's more than a tad sexy. My wife will certainly be watching should he pick up the keys to the TARDIS. I think Tom would give us a swashbuckling adventure-seeker with a lust for life in all its interplanetary forms as well as a shade of darkness, and a whole lot of warm fun-loving humanity."


Pictured above, Riz Ahmed

Sarah Dollard, writer Face The Raven and untitled Series 10 ep

"Anna Chancellor. She has the necessary intelligence and gravitas to carry all the Doctor's centuries, but she's also enormously fun and charming. Most importantly, her characters all seem to possess something that's essential to the Doctor: secrets. She always has something held back, something you're so desperate to know more about, you can't look away. For me, that's the Doctor."

Jenny T Colgan, author In The Blood

"I would love Riz Ahmed for the new Doctor, although I think he's probably a bit too busy right now being a massive star in Hollywood. But even so. He's unpredictable and you can't take your eyes off him onscreen, he's just so riveting. The one thing Doctor casting always gets right is picking brilliantly versatile actors, and I think he fits the bill perfectly."

Edward Russell, Doctor Who Brand Manager

"You know what? I think the time is right for a female Doctor. For many years, I was one of those people that felt that the Doctor works best a man. I like that young boys have a pacifist hero as a role model and I still think that's relevant, but the time really is right to go with a woman. What changed my mind? I just realised how we're always saying how flexible and robust the format of Doctor Who is, so isn't it time to put that to the test? And if we're going for a lady in the TARDIS, then it needs to be done with confidence and certainty. But ultimately, the candidate has to be as good an actor as David, Matt or Peter and if they get that right, I don't think he or she will fail."


Pictured above, Tilda Swinton

A.K. Benedict, writer, Torchwood: The Victorian Age

"Tilda Swinton would make a stunning 13th Doctor. She has the requisite twinkle, intelligence and impish grin along with a chameleonic, strange quality. Her Doctor would be curious, kind, full of mirth and rage, and ever so, ever so alien.

(I don't think they'll go for a woman, sadly. Not yet. Not now. Given that, my pragmatic choice would be the excellent and multi-talented Mathew Baynton.)"

Peter Ware, Deputy Editor, Doctor Who Magazine

"Suranne Jones! Quirky, charismatic, unpredictable... she'd be perfect. :)"

Christel Dee, Doctor Who: The Fan Show presenter

"After 13 brilliant male actors, I’m open to the idea of a female taking on the role. My top picks for female Doctors are: Anna Chancellor, Gemma Chan and Emerald Fennell. It’s very difficult to pick who I’d like to see most out of these three as I think they would all bring something unique to the character. But I think the world could do with more female heroes and role models. As Marina Sirtis [Counselor Deanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation] on Twitter said this week, "In these times, a female doctor would send an amazing message!"."


Pictured above, Sacha Dhawan

Samira Ahmed, Broadcaster and Presenter

"My top suggestion is Catherine Zeta Jones. I like the Welsh connection thing as well as it's shot in Cardiff. And she reminds me of the first Romana - dignified, super intelligent and with that air of being so sophisticated she MUST be from another world. My original thought was you should get back to the William Hartnell vibe. As Margaret Rutherford is no longer around (my top pick), I think Olivia Colman would channel the right spirit. But I think you can argue that the Hartnell connection has now been done with Peter Capaldi.

However there's a case among some screen writers that we need to accept that the young audience expect a younger, fanciable Doctor. The case is epitomised in David Tennant and I'd say it has its precedent in Peter Davison. Which brings me back to Catherine Zeta Jones: gorgeous, but also mature. In essence the Doctor needs two things: a rare smile that's worth waiting for and a touch of arrogance they can't hide. She's your woman. And it has to be a woman."

Richard Dinnick, Doctor Who author and Big Finish writer

"While I’d love to see a female Doctor, I don’t think that will happen. Yet! I think the BBC could easily cast a person of colour as the new Doctor and I think they should go young: Ashley Walters or Noel Clarke – or John Boyega! Imagine that!

Failing that, I am sure they’ll be a lot of love for Colin Morgan, and I think that would be excellent. My personal choice in this category would be Aneurin Barnard who was stellar as Richard III in The White Queen and about to grace our screens again in SS-GB. Ooh, and if I could have Gemma Chan as his companion, that would be my perfect TARDIS crew."


Pictured above, Hayley Atwell

Emma Reeves, author Torchwood: Forgotten Lives and Torchwood: Outbreak

"My ultimate fantasy would be a surprise - somehow they manage to keep it a secret and, like the Doctor and companions, you don't know who or what you're going to get until the flames start shooting from the sleeves... Wouldn't that be amazing? And impossible - it's never been done because it would be totally impractical - but if there's any small way to recapture the joy of that Thursday morning when The Night of The Doctor suddenly appeared, or when you suddenly heard the voice of The Curator...

Anyway, more realistically I like Maxine Peake or Richard Ayoade for the role, but everyone's saying them; I also love the idea of Paterson Joseph. Backing Richard Madden as I've got a small bet on him. And personally I'd really like to see Julian Barratt in the role just... because, really? How can you ever explain what, to you, makes a potential Gallifreyan? - it's just a feeling. He's convincing and likeable and underplayed when necessary when surrounded by the most bizarre worlds - he makes you take it seriously and can make you feel empathy for the strangest situations."

Luke Spillane, Doctor Who: The Fan Show presenter

"I think more than anything we’re now ready for something different from what we’ve seen previously and I definitely think we’re ready for a female Doctor. Personally I would absolutely LOVE to see Hayley Atwell take on the role, I think she’d make a fantastic first female Doctor. Equally Sacha Dhawan who gave such a wonderful performance in An Adventure In Space And Time and after seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story I’d love to see Riz Ahmed as our favourite time-traveler!"


Pictured above, Iwan Rheon

John Dorney, Big Finish writer

"I've always contended that the Doctor isn't a leading role. Yes, it's a star part, but the character itself, the way he behaves, is the sort of person we'd more usually find as a sidekick, the best friend... only in a show where somebody forgot to include a more traditional hero figure.

So at its best it's played by a great character actor. This goes all the way down the line. There's a reason Tom Baker was more often found playing the villain than the hero before Who. Why Peter Davison has a CV of comedy classics. Tennant and Smith may have leading man looks, but the souls carry on this tradition. Tennant auditioned to play Orlando, the romantic lead, in As You Like It at the RSC but was asked instead to play Touchstone, the clown. This for me is the difference. You want an actor who'd do a strong Hamlet, but a definitive Benedick.

And for me, the best Benedick I've ever seen was Charles Edwards at the Globe. A versatile stage actor who has slowly moved into TV and film (via Downton Abbey, Sherlock Series 4, Holy Flying Circus), he can do serious and silly with equal aplomb and has been my choice for the role since that production of Much Ado about Nothing.

I do appreciate that he's another white male, but he's been stuck in my head as the Doctor since before any change to that paradigm looked possible, so he was always going to be my first choice. If we're casting the net more widely, I'd love Nicola Walker to do it, as she's brilliant and lovely, and I'd cast her in everything if I got the chance. Even if it meant we'd struggle to get her back to Big Finish. And Lenny Henry deserves a proper crack at it thirty years on, as his stage work has been getting increasingly deserved respect (his performance in Fences in the West End last year easily rivals Denzel Washington's in the film) and he has the skill across the board."

Darren Scott, editor GT magazine

"My choice for the Thirteenth Doctor – or is it Fourteenth? Are we going there now? – would be Sacha Dhawan. An accomplished actor, with a variety of quirky looks that would suit a Time Lord, he's dashing and dynamic enough to steal many a girl and boys heart away in the TARDIS.

Of course, he already has Who-story with the programme, having portrayed Waris Hussein in An Adventure in Space and Time, but lets not forget phenomenal performances in The Tractate Middoth, Sherlock and Game of Thrones. This doesn't have anything to do with the fact that I have a huge crush on him. Not at all."


Pictured above, Gemma Chan

Chris Allen, *Doctor Who: The Fan Show producer**

"I’m so torn – Letitia Wright (of Humans and Face the Raven fame) or Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge spring immediately to mind as immensely talented new-ish actors. And it’ll never happen, but after seeing her basically play the Doctor in Doctor Strange, Tilda Swinton would be AMAZING. Men? What, a male Doctor Who? Don’t be daft. It’ll never happen! (Riz Ahmed please!)"

Tony Lee, Doctor Who comic author

"Every time they've announced the new Doctor I've always been 100% wrong, but I think Richard Ayoade should be a solid candidate for the 13th Doctor. He's stylish, witty, and has the looks factor and geek cred that many fans look for. And, with luck he could do it in between series of The Crystal Maze.

If not Ayoade, then Alex Vlahos should be right up there in the mix. He's become a household name thanks to shows like Merlin and Versailles, and his Dorian Gray series for Big Finish shows that he has the acting chops for a man out of time. And let's face it, he's handsome as hell."


Pictured above, Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Adrian Lobb, TV Editor, The Big Issue

"Lots of planets have a north, as Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor reminded us. So why not prove it by casting Maxine Peake, who combines great intelligence with a genuine warmth that audiences really connect to? Peake can make the bleakest drama sing, give the lightest comedy impact, and would bring such heart(s) and range and skill to the role. She’s also got form for playing parts previously dominated by male actors, with an acclaimed Hamlet in her locker.

Chiwetel Ejiofor - with his brooding intensity, and those incredible eyes, Ejiofor could bring out the darkness that eventually envelops each Doctor. But he can also turn on the charm, is sharp, funny and proved he can do crowd pleasing showmanship in Everyman at the National Theatre in 2015 - unleashing the kind of boundless energy that served Tennant and Smith so well."

Morgan Jeffery, TV Editor Digital Spy

"My instinct is that, when it comes to casting the next Doctor, the BBC and Chris Chibnall will be looking for a younger actor who'll serve as a marked contrast to Peter Capaldi - possibly someone who more fits the 'romantic hero' bill, à la David Tennant. Thinking along those lines, Sacha Dhawan seems like a natural fit - in his 30s, good-looking, with an impressive backlog of work but not defined my any one previous role.

Or maybe it's long past time for a female lead? If that's the way it goes, then look no further than Nicola Walker - one of this country's most accomplished drama actors, she also had a wonderful quirkiness, warmth and humour about her. Sounds like Doctor material to me…"

Joseph Lidster, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood writer

"My choice would be Eva Pope. She’s a fantastic actress who I first saw years ago in Coronation Street. I’ve written for her recently for the children’s TV series Hetty Feather. She plays the villainous Matron in that but in person she’s very lovely, very funny and very glamorous. Plus, she’s Northern. We need a Northern Doctor again!”"


Pictured above, Richard Ayoade

With special thanks to all who contributed.

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