The Next Doctor

It has been announced that Pete Capaldi will be hanging up his frock-coat and the Doctor will be regenerating at the start of the 2018 season. Stephen Moffat had already announced that 2017 will be his last season and Chris Chibnall (Torchwood, Broadchurch) will be taking the lead as show runner.

Chibnall has rarely impressed with his Dr Who episodes and Torchwood was a mixed bag, but Broadchurch was excellent television (season 1 more than season 2 but both good).

So who will be the new Doctor? One thing Chibnall is noted for is recycling cast members. Dr Who and Torchwood alumni appear in Chibnall’s other shows. Notably, Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones in both Dr Who and Torchwood) appeared in Law & Order UK (a British extension of the US TV franchise) and David Tennant in Broadchurch along with Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams in Dr Who) and Eva Myles (Torchwood).

Other things we know:

  • Hopefully, it will be a woman and I think the odds are quite high that it will be.
  • Having appeared in Dr Who before is not a disqualification.
  • Aside from Chibnall’s casting habits, casting an actor the producer has worked with recently is not unusual (Ecclestone and Tennant had both worked with Russel T Davies just prior to being cast).
  • Matt Smith apparently wouldn’t mind coming back (but nah, don’t like that idea)
  • The Doctor has to convincingly walk into a military base under attack by freaky alien monsters and despite being a random stranger usurp the chain of command and tell people what to do.

So below are some actors I think might be good choices – although not neccesarily likely choices. Each actor I’ll give a base under siege score – as in, you could imagine a bunch of soldiers taking orders from them during an alien invasion.

Marianne Jean-Baptiste

Chibnall connection: She played the barrister Sharon Bishop in season 2 of Broadchurch.

Great actor with a great presence on screen. Really good at portraying cleverness, intensity and compassion. Excellent snarkiness.

Not much SF/F work (small role in Edge of Tomorrow)

Base under siege score: 10/10 – I suspect she could do this in real life

Indira Varma

Chibnall connection: She played Suzie Costello in Torchwood in two episodes. (Suzie was a character specifically created to appear as a central member of the core cast but actually be killed in the first episode.)

I haven’t seen her on TV much but did see her in a broadcast of the National Theatre’s production of Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw. More than held her own in a production centred on Ralph Fiennes playing a self-centered ego maniac.

SF/F connections: Played Allaria Sand in some seasons of Game of Thrones.

Base under siege score: 7/10 – faced down Ralph Fiennes scenery chewing Leonard Rossiter impression on stage.

Hayley Atwell

Chibnall connection: none. The nearest indirect connection is she appeared in the two adaptations of Phillip Pullman’s Victorian mysteries: Ruby in the Smoke and Shadow in the North. Those adaptations starred Billie Piper (post- Dr Who) and also included Matt Smith (pre- Dr Who).

Obviously, the key draw here is her brilliant work as Agent Peggy Carter in the Captain America films and in her two-season TV series, Agent Carter. Demonstrated ability to act convincingly in stories with crazy-fantasy-science-horror stuff going on and deliver lines of wacky-science with deep sincerity.

SF/F connections. see above. Also, could pull fans from one franchise to another.

Base under siege score: 9/10 – led the Howling Commandos

Olivia Coleman

Chibnall connection: Star of Broadchurch.

Brilliant actor with a command of comedy and emotional intensity. While she has only appeared in Dr Who once (a small role in Matt Smith’s first episode) she was tipped as a possible new Doctor when Matt Smith was leaving. In the Who anniversay comedy “The Five(ish) Doctors” in which Peter Davidson, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy try to gate crash the anniversary special, Coleman appears saying that she can’t believe she wasn’t also included “because I’m usually in everything”.

SF/F connections. Not many.

Base under siege score: 6/10 – I can’t think of any examples

Sophie Okonedo

Chibnall connection: Nothing directly but did appear in Doctor Who as Liz Ten in the episode the Beast Below.

Aside from Liz Ten the only role I’ve seen her in was in the Australian mini-series The Slap in which she was very good.

SF/F Connections: various bits of things, in the film of Aeon Flux, in the 2012 TV series of Sinbad, in the not so good Will SMith film After Earth.

Base under siege score: 8/10 played the space Queen of England

Katherine Kelly

Chibnall connection: Nothing directly. However, last seen playing Ms Quill in the Dr Who spin-off Class.

Been in lots of things apparently from Coronation Street to the prestige mini-series the Night Manager. However, I’ve only really seen her in Class and the Ms Quill bits were typically the strongest bits. Note, having appeared as a major character in a spin-off is no disqualification from playing the Doctor – Peter Capaldi appeared as a major character in a Tennant episode and was a major character in the Torchwood mini-series Children of Earth.

SF/F Connections: Class.

Base under siege score: 7/10- alien terrorist assassin who can kill robot OFSTED inspectors

Alan Tudyk

I’ll add a token male and token American.

Chibnall connection: None that I’m aware of.

OK, just think about it, though. Firefly, Star Wars, a huge array of DC properties via voice over work. If Tudyk was Dr Who *as well* he could be a one-man genre convention.

Yes, he can do a convincing English accent (e.g. Death at a Funeral)

SF/F connections: apparently everything.

Base under siege score: 6/10 – technically in Rogue One he was breaking INTO a base

Everybody else. Yes, obviously Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Idris Elba, Ben Winshaw et al could probably do a decent job of playing the Doctor but they aren’t going to. Yes, it would be an appallingly bad idea to cast Stephen Fry, Hugh Grant or David Mitchell as the Doctor even though they are people of many talents.



  1. Mark

    Is “Chinball” deliberate?

    I can’t see any coherent argument left standing for why the Doctor can’t be female, so why not now?

    Quill could be fascinating but I think there’s been too little time since Class to cast her.

    Atwell or Coleman would be powerful choices but both have good established careers and would be unlikely to want to stick around for that long.

    Indira Varma is a really interesting suggestion – she was good in GoT and has an intensity to her.


  2. Cora

    Liz Ten isn’t Sophie Okonedo’s only Doctor Who appearance. She also appeared in the animated Doctor Who adventure Scream of the Shalka, which was released for the 40th anniversary in 2003 and quickly forgotten, once the new series came out. Richard Grant played the alternate Ninth Doctor, Sophie Okonedo was his companion.

    I’d love to see a female Doctor BTW or a Doctor of colour or a female Doctor of colour.


  3. Ken Finney

    Oh for goodness sake, cant we just cast the next DR, based on his/her performance at the audition, not because their male, or white etc etc. Its like the Oscars all over again lol….I,m 55 and can remember watching the DR’s antics from behind the family sofa, as a wee lad of 11….


    • JJ

      I think it would be great to change up the Doctor a little more by casting a woman, instead of the same-old, same-old. Switching the dynamic — a female Doctor with a male Companion — would offer all sorts of interesting possibilities in terms of storytelling.


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