10 Actors Who Could be the Next Doctor

With Matt Smith confirming that he will leave Doctor Who after this year’s Christmas Special, several names have been thrown around as potential candidates for the role of The Doctor. Television’s longest running Science Fiction show needs a new star to steer the programme back onto safe ground after Matt Smith’s rocky tenure. Criticism of the show has peaked with top writer and “Who Supremo” Steven Moffat closing his Twitter account to avoid complaints.

So, the question on everyone’s lips is simple, Doctor Who?

10. David Morrissey

David Morrisey This pick is made because David Morrissey has already appeared in Doctor Who, playing a man who thought he was The Doctor. Who better than somebody who has already had a chance to play the title role? Despite not playing the actual Doctor he gave it a good go in the 2008 Christmas Special: The Next Doctor. Morrissey brought a reckless and swashbuckling version of the Time Lord to life and managed not to be overshadowed by David Tennant, no small feat. In addition, his recent work includes an excellent portrayal of The Governor in AMC’s The Walking Dead.

No other actor on this list can say they have been able to play The Doctor before. David Morrissey may seem like a safe bet, a good choice in difficult times. I think he’d be an excellent Doctor, while being a nice nod to a previous episode it would also bring in some great acting talent. Doctor Who has always liked to cast relative unknowns in the title role but they should not overlook a man who, despite being born in Liverpool, can stand among an American cast and not look or sound out of place at all. He’d almost certainly be up to the physical side of things, he’s no action here but his recent work on The Walking Dead has shown he can do both action and drama.

I’d love to see David Morrissey as The Doctor because I think he’d be one of the best choices for the role, I don’t think it will happen though. There are more up and coming stars and plenty of unknown actors who could take the role and Mr Morrissey will probably be overlooked.

9. Rory Kinnear

Rory KinnearAnother actor with enough experience and presence to take the role, Rory Kinnear makes this list because of his excellent portrayal of two very different characters. His part of Tanner, MI6 Operative, in Skyfall and Quantum of Solace shows he can talk the talk. Tanner could have just been another background character with the single job of telling Bond what to do next, instead Kinnear made him into someone you thought was just as important to the running of MI6 as M, Q or Bond himself.

Kinnear can also walk the walk as a main character. His portrayal of Henry Bolingbroke in The Hollow Crown demonstrated that he could steal the show without overshadowing the other actors. Kinnear may be a long shot, but I’d like to see what he does with the character. I think his Doctor would be quiet and calm, as an actor who has brought Shakespeare to the TV screen Kinnear is a master of subtlety and could play the Time Lord without the big speeches and grandstanding that has crept into this most recent series. He’d need input on the character though. In addition, I don’t think his costume would be very creative. Of all the people on this list Rory Kinnear is the one I cannot see in some highly detailed outfit that isn’t quite normal. I wouldn’t choose Kinnear for the role as I think he’d struggle with some of the sillier storylines he would have to do. I don’t see Kinnear as a funny actor and the writers will certainly want somebody who can bring a laugh to the audience.

8. Ben Whishaw

Ben WhishawAnother actor who has done very well for himself recently, also starring in The Hollow Crown. Ben Whishaw brought great emotion to Richard II, brilliantly capturing his downfall. Like Rory Kinnear, starring in The Hollow Crown has boosted his profile, like Rory Kinnear, he has done very well in Skyfall. Landing the part in Doctor Who would keep his career on a high trajectory and introduce him to even wider audiences.

In many ways, Q and The Doctor are quite similar. Both are eager geniuses with an eye for technology and a fondness for clever gadgets. Whishaw has shown us he can be a very clever boy when he wants to be. Is he the right man to capture The Doctor’s brilliant mind? I think he is one for the future, just not right now. I think he would be too similar to Matt Smith, each new Doctor has to quickly define their new character and distance themselves from the old. Ben Whishaw would be another clever, excitable young Doctor who who would probably best fit in a couple of Doctors down the line. Especially if we have some older, more serious actors in the role, the time would come again for a young Doctor.

7. Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict CumberbatchSpeaking of a brilliant mind, what about the man who plays Sherlock Holmes in Steven Moffat’s other big show Sherlock? Not many actors can play the troubled detective and fewer still can carry a show with only six episodes into the now legendary status Sherlock enjoys. Cumberbatch can be serious in one moment and frivolous the next without breaking character, Sherlock Holmes is already like The Doctor in many ways, complete with his own range of special quirks.

However, I’m not sure if I would want him playing both Sherlock Holmes and The Doctor for fear the two characters may become too similar. Cumberbatch may also be too busy to play The Doctor on a regular basis, playing Smaug the Dragon and Sauron the Necromancer in the next two Hobbit films may take some time. In addition, his great performance as John Harrison, villain of Star Trek: Into Darkness means Hollywood will be keen to cast him in more films. Will he have time for Doctor Who? I don’t think so.

That is a shame as Cumberbatch could easily handle both physical and mental challenges that meet The Doctor and has had some experience with a companion of his own. If Cumberbatch could keep a clear difference between Sherlock Holmes and The Doctor then TV will be missing out on something great.

6. Idris Elba

Idris ElbaWho says the Doctor has to be white? There has never been a black actor in the role, but if there ever was to be Idris Elba would be an excellent choice. This is the man that sparked a controversy when he was cast as Norse God Heimdall in Thor and promptly removed it when people saw the film. If any actor could play a black Doctor, Idris Elba is that actor.

Elba has shown he can carry a show on multiple occasions with The Wire and Luther. Could he be the man to carry Doctor Who? Once again, I don’t think so. The Doctor has always been a white male and if Idris Elba lands the role many might say it is because of political correctness. Elba may be remembered for a long time as “The Black Doctor” and such easy typecasting must be avoided. Judging by the man himself I don’t think Elba is the right man for the job, he’d be cast because the show wanted a black Doctor, not because they thought he was the best choice for the role. There are better choices on this list in my opinion.

5. Helen Mirren

Helen MirrenThen again, does it have to be a man? Steven Moffat has hinted at a woman being the next Doctor and the show has confirmed that Time Lords can change gender when they regenerate. Why Helen Mirren? Because she said she wanted to. Mirren has a long and distinguished career and certainly has the talent for the role. But I think she might be a bit too old. I know that William Hartnell and Jon Pertwee were both grey of hair and old of age when they took the role but the show was not as physically demanding then as it is now. I think Helen Mirren would look a bit too out of sorts running around a space ship or being chased by aliens. The Doctor is supposed to stand out in a crowd as someone who is obviously not supposed to be there but when the action starts the Doctor is in his element. I think Helen Mirren would be a bit lost when an episode picked up the pace.

But perhaps the biggest obstacle facing her is not the question: Could The Doctor be a woman? But rather: Why should Doctor Who be a woman? Opponents to a female Doctor may claim a decision would be made because of political correctness, but I wonder if the writers would be able to create a female Doctor. What would they change, if anything? If the show decides to make the Doctor female it should be because that is the best choice for the show, not to get attention and say “Hey look at us, we’ve got a female Doctor!” As with Idris Elba, any woman who takes the role can be categorised as the odd one out among the incarnations of The Doctor.

4. Olivia Colman

Olivia ColmanHelen Mirren may want the role of first female Doctor, but the odds favour Olivia Colman. Starring in Peep Show, Rev and even making a brief appearance in Matt Smith’s first episode of Doctor Who, Colman is the bookies favourite if the show decides to make The Doctor a woman. This may be in large part because of Broadchurch, an excellent crime drama starring Colman and David Tennant.

Her star is in the ascendant right now and she needs to land some big roles to keep it that way. While I would rather The Doctor remained a man, if any woman could play The Doctor right now, I’d want it to be Colman. She can certainly do comedy and drama and I think she’d fit in with the show but I think she’d be much better as a recurring supporting character. After all, while I do want the top spot to be held by a man I do think the show could do with a few more women who aren’t a companion or a throwaway character. I remember how good Penelope Wilton was as Harriet Jones and how sparingly the writers used her. She was memorable without being overbearing and although we hadn’t seen her for a while her death at the hands of the Daleks was a sad moment. The show could certainly benefit from a few more characters like Harriet Jones and Olivia Colman could certainly do them justice.

3. Shaun Evans

Shaun EvansA lesser known choice than others on this list, Shaun Evans is famous for playing the young version of Inspector Morse in the spin off Endeavour. He is responsible for the success of the show, which has finished a first series commissioned after a successful pilot episode and commanded strong ratings.

I chose Evans for this list because of the presence he brings to the screen in playing a different version of a much loved character. Shaun Evans was able to bring a new take on the character while also making subtle but rewarding nods to the original. Judging from his performance I think he’d be perfect for the job of a newly regenerated Time Lord. Especially as the writers of the show make constant references to Classic Doctor Who.

He might be a bit young and I may want to see an older Doctor but Evans has that grown up sense about him. We’ve had a couple of childish Doctors who’ve done the “I’m so old now” routine while really not looking it. I think Shaun Evans should be cast as the next Doctor because he can play a new version of an old character, because he can bring a much needed serious edge as opposed to a childish character who occasionally puts on his serious face and because he isn’t quite known enough for people to say “hey look, it’s that guy from that thing!” Going into a role as big as The Doctor is daunting enough and whoever gets it doesn’t need the audience seeing other characters they’ve played as opposed to The Doctor.

2. Tom Hiddleston

Tom HiddlestonMr Hiddleston is top of the world right now. After his portrayal of Loki, Norse God of Mischief became the darkhorse of Thor and the main villain of Avengers Assemble, Tom Hiddleston gained massive amounts of fans and support. He is another actor on this list to have starred in The Hollow Crown, bringing humour, frivolity, majesty and tragedy to his role of Henry V, yes I do love The Hollow Crown.

Hiddleston is able to show multiple sides of a complex character and no character is more complex than The Doctor. I would personally not choose him to be the next Doctor given his big roles in major films. He is perhaps a bit too recognisable. Audiences may see Loki in the TARDIS rather than Tom Hiddelston as The Doctor. Besides, with the continued success of Mr Hiddleston he too, like Benedict Cumberbatch, may be in too much demand to spare time for Doctor Who.

1. Colin Morgan

Colin MorganYet another actor who has appeared in Doctor Who before. In the excellent David Tennant episode, Midnight. Morgan has since established himself as a young actor in demand by playing Merlin in the BBC drama of the same name. Merlin has received critical praise and high viewing figures and catapulted Morgan to fame.

With Merlin now over, Colin Morgan may be looking for the next big show to star in. However, I think he is too young for the role of the Doctor. After David Tennant and Matt Smith I believe the role needs an older actor. I would put Colin Morgan on a “give it a few years” list and consider casting him a few Doctors down the line, provided he still has time of course. I think he needs a few more roles under his belt before he should be considered for The Doctor. If he could star in a couple of films and a few TV dramas I think he’d be all set for Doctor Who. I’d like to see him play The Doctor one day, just not yet.

Maybe the most important question is not Doctor Who? But instead, what do you think? Who should be the next Doctor and why?

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Wow, you’re top choice really surprised me because I think he could work perfectly as The Doctor, but you are also right in that he is too young. I just secretly hope David Tennant will come back and be The Doctor forever. Man, he was great. I guess it isn’t a secret hope anymore.

    As far as Idris Elba, I’d rather see him as a future James Bond, I think he would be amazing in that role. It would be cool to see a non-white Doctor.

    • Amy Wood

      I completely agree about Idris Elba being Bond, I think he is perfect for that role!

    • Joe Harker

      All of these actors could give a pretty good go at being The Doctor. One of the things about casting The Doctor (in my opinion) is that you need to be significantly different from the previous actor, especially if they left such a big impression like David Tennant did.

      I agree that Tennant was great, the show couldn’t have gotten so popular again without him.

  2. I’ve been in love with Ben Whishaw ever since I saw him in Perfume.

  3. Amy Wood

    I have to admit I have never considered the possibility of a female Doctor, it is a very interesting option and I think Colman would be a great choice. It would be very hard to adjust to though, not sure if I would like it!

    • Joe Harker

      I will admit that I’m not sure I would like it either, though that is partially because I’m not liking what the writers are doing right now.

      I just don’t think they could do it properly, which would bury the idea for a long time.

  4. Oh man this list is everything I’ve ever wanted. I agree with all ten, especially because most of them are some of my favorite actors and the ones who aren’t I still know are very good and would enjoy seeing as the Doctor. It would be really nice to get a female Doctor, and I’m glad you’ve included some female actors in your list, especially because so many people tend to automatically dismiss the idea of a female Doctor. But anything can happen in Doctor Who, and your list embraces that by including a variety of really, really awesome actors.

    • I would push Rory Kinnear out of there there, never liked him (sorry).

    • Joe Harker

      Thank you for your kind comment, to me Doctor Who is that show which does not need to be narrow in selecting a leading actor. Since your main character can regenerate into a completely new form you get the freedom to cast whoever you want.

      Though no black or female actor should be cast in the role if the reason is “promoting equality”. They should be cast on their merits.

  5. I agree with your assessment of the female/black Doctor. While I think it would be an interesting change of pace with the right actor, i’m not sure whether the actor/actress would really be accepted. They would forever be judged as the ‘other’ Doctor. I wouldn’t really like to see a female Doctor, not because I don’t think a woman could do it, but because the Doctor is a man. James Bond can be any race under the sun, IMHO, but changing gender would be a bit much. Same for the Doctor.

    Man, if I can’t have DT back, i’d KILL for Hiddleston. He is clearly way too busy, bu a girl can dream! He’s just the right age too!

    No sure about Rory Kinnear. Heard his name bandied about a lot, and I enjoyed him in Hollow Crown, but he always seems a little slow for a Doctor.

    This was a great list- I enjoyed your reasoning in particular! I’ve seen a few of these in the past few days, but yours is by far the most reasonable, with a TOUCH of the fanboy. Love it.

    • Joe Harker

      Thanks! I think if you’re going to write a list of the actors you want to play The Doctor you need to be a bit of a fanboy. I am a little bit disappointed with the show at the moment but I hope it will improve again.

      I know how good it can be, and I want it to be so again.

  6. Katherine Kingsle

    I’m so glad you included both a man of colour and women as potential Doctors. Personally I don’t want Idris Elba as the new Doctor, because I need him to be the new James Bond on a deep and fundamental level, and I don’t want any scheduling issues. I’d love for Helen Mirren, or Olivia Colman especially to be the new Doctor, even though I’m apprehensive about the way they would be be treated with Moffat as headwriter. Regardless, I think that excluding people of colour and women as options because the Doctor just is a man, is crazy. Maybe they would be typecasted and the show criticized for trying to be politically correct, but diversity has to start from somewhere.

    • Emmaline Forbes

      They would never let Idris Elba be the next bond. It is too controversial for them, you know it.

      • A lot of outlets have been reporting that Bond’s producers have been talking to Elba about eventually taking the reins.

  7. Catherine Sweeney

    Colin morgan so talented, i’m slightly obsessed with merlin! But i dont know if i could have the same merlin and doctor. I think tom hiddleston would be perfect:-) really good list!

  8. If David Morrisey does play the Doctor his story debut should involve Cybermen.

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