Five Suggestions for the Next Person to Play The Doctor

Despite rumours started by the tabloid press, there has been no official announcement on when Peter Capaldi will relinquish the role, let alone rumours that 2017 will be his final year. Speculation began last month when Steven Moffat announced he would be stepping down after the next series, just how much longer Capaldi would have stewardship over the TARDIS.

A few weeks ago, Maisie Williams suggested Idris Elba. My personal feeling is that he would not be right, may be even too big for the role, and would make a better James Bond. Personally, I hope Capaldi can do it for another 2-3 years from 2017 (the air dates of the next season) but should he decide that it will be his last, here are my suggestions.

Paterson Joseph

By Alex Lozupone (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Alex Lozupone (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
I remember thinking waaaaay back in the 1990s after seeing him play The Marquis De Carabas in the Neil Gaiman + Lenny Henry production Neverwhere “hmm, this guy would make a great Doctor if they ever bring it back”. He was a new face to me then, but he has cropped up in many genre and non-genre shows, most notably as Johnson in Peep Show, as Greg in the ill-fated reboot of Survivors and as an Admiral in the not-particularly-funny Hyperdrive, a sci-fi comedy show with Nick Frost and Miranda Hart. He’s also been in the Mitchell & Webb sketch show more than a few times, particularly as a contestant on their confusing game show “Numberwang”. He has been in Doctor Who before; he was a contestant on The Weakest Link in the two part Ecclestone finale. He can be dark and moody, yet he can be playful and quirky and can switch between the two very easily. He could be a dark and haunted Doctor with a playful side -a bit like Capaldi is now but more intense and less grumpy.

Robert Sheehan

By © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.5,

Playing the fast-talking Jack The Lad “Nathan” on Misfits, Sheehan abandoned his cheeky, boyish credentials for the hard hitting Irish drama Love/Hate and as Ivan in the drama-dy Killing Bono. Perhaps too boyish looking, but remember that that never stopped either David Tennant or Matt Smith wooing the fan girls and carrying the weight of all time and space on their shoulders so successfully. Sheehan has the gravitas, he can be just as menacing as boyish and he’s got a cheeky face that your gran will love. There is a certain intensity that he can bring to the more serious Who moments that I believe he will be able to carry with relative ease. Having seen him in Love/Hate, he is certainly more diverse than the teen angst and humour from which most people will know him. A little too boyish perhaps, but he may be able to pull it off.

Anton Lesser

By Philip Vial - Flickr: Anton Lesser and Paul Rathkey, CC BY-SA 2.0,
By Philip Vial – Flickr: Anton Lesser and Paul Rathkey, CC BY-SA 2.0,

For me, Lesser has always been a great supporting actor but rarely a leading man. I first came across him in 1990s UK sci fi drama Invasion Earth when he played a WWII pilot inexplicably returned to 1990s rural England. His stoicism and tragedy in that was perfect for The Doctor and his Shakespearean background gives him an element of British stars of the 1950s and 1960s. There is something quite Denholm Elliot and Richard Burton about him even though he is much younger than that generation. He was in wartime drama Charlotte Grey but to radio fans may be best-known as the voice of Lindsey Davis’ protagonist Marcus Didius Falco in the radio adaptations. More recently, he has been in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, in Game of Thrones as Qyburn, in the TV adaptation of Wolf Hall as Thomas More and as Fagin in the mash-up Dickensian. He has a large and impressive portfolio of work. He can play posh but he can also play an edgy and emotive character, essential elements for the modern Doctor.

Hugh Bonneville

By Julienmorvan (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Fresh out of Downton Abbey, he has the air of the English gent – a bit like Anton Lesser – but will immediately slot in comfortably for the American audience which is now a big part of the audience. Bonneville has a portfolio as long as the arm and has played many, many roles throughout his career. He has appeared in Who already, as a pirate captain in the episode Curse of the Black Spot which also featured model Lily Cole as a Siren. He’s flexible, can do serious and funny and I have always felt that – like Paterson Joseph – has an underlying boyish playfulness, albeit a little more understated. This was excellently demonstrated in Mister Stink, and he is no stranger to children’s television either. He’s done a lot of period drama which means he will fit very well into the episodes set in historical periods. Humour comes naturally to Bonneville who played the vicar with a long-term crush on Geraldine in The Vicar of Dibley.

Tilda Swinton

By nicolas genin from Paris, France [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Now, I am not one for tokenism and I am firmly in the camp that The Doctor should remain male even though it is officially canon that Timelords can change gender; let’s remember that it is still a rare occurrence. Michelle Gomez has been a great Master/Mistress – I am not disputing that. However, we do not know how he became a she. The character has not been above stealing bodies before now and transferring his consciousness. That said, I am more than happy to challenge my own deep-seated beliefs about the possibility of attempting a female Doctor. One happy medium to satisfy both camps may be Tilda Swinton, the androgynous actress who has appeared in many well-known films – Hollywood and art house. She is clearly not afraid of a challenge and has put her hand to many difficult roles that bigger stars may have felt were too risky. Would playing the first female lead in Doctor Who be the perfect role for her?

So go on, let’s hear your suggestions!


2 thoughts on “Five Suggestions for the Next Person to Play The Doctor

  1. ofopinions

    Great choices! Out of the five, Hugh Bonneville would settle most easily into the role, I think. Paterson Joseph would also be highly entertaining. Anton Lesser would make a great villain, or a significant character role, I am not sure all that running around and craziness and weird but compulsory dynamics with a companion would suit him. Tilda Swinton would be terrific. I think Helena Bonham Carter was also suggested last time around. Personally, I think Essie Davis, who plays Phryne Fisher in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries would be divine as the Doctor. She’s very nimble, has a great figure to carry out any outfit no matter how eccentric, has great comic timing and can deliver the serious moments with ease too. I hope Peter Capaldi goes on playing the Doctor for years and years, and it will certainly be interesting to see where Chris Chibnall takes the show.

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. I’m not sure how much weight there is to the suggestion that 2017 might be Capaldi’s last season. As it was in the The Mirror, I suspect not much (but they did also reveal that John Hurt would play a “Forgotten” Doctor in the 50th Anniversary long before The Name of the Doctor episode aired so it might not be total nonsense). There has been no official announcement, either from Capaldi or from The Beeb. My feeling is that Chibnall will be keen to stamp his own authority on the Capaldi incarnation first.

      My personal preference is Paterson Joseph, I wanted him to play The Doctor 10 years before I knew it was returning 🙂

      Exciting times though!

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