It’s always a big news story when the current Doctor leaves but what the media really, really like is speculating on who the next Doctor will be. Every fan probably has an opinion based on character actors they know and journalists have an opinion based on whoever is big in TV at the moment, usually in another series. The latter choices are unlikely to be made simply because the actor in question is in another series. None of the former are likely to be in the frame either as casting has to take into account aspects other than just whether the actor is good enough. We also have the usual should the Doctor be a woman / David Hasselhoff/ Steve Winwood / a horse etc. You can probably discount those. Unless of course this time the Doctor really will be a horse.
How this all works is that it’s really a huge burst of publicity for the show. Often agents will covertly circulate names of their clients to attract attention in relation to the role. Some actors will even publicly lobby for the job via Twitter; you can be sure they will not be in the running. In fact it is altogether possible that the new Doctor has already been chosen and is amused by the fact that his or her name has yet to be linked to the role. Usually about a day before the announcement some enterprising person in the know lets slip and there is a flurry of bets for one person- this happened the past two times.
The other thing that people forget in all the fuss is that it is not just a role that the actor will be taking on. It is a role which also involves a huge public commitment while doing it and an association that will last for the rest of their career whatever they do, Despite Peter Capaldi’s huge range of roles he will now always be first and foremost `former Doctor `Who`. Some actors might like the role and be brilliant but they don’t want the intrusion on their private life. That probably rules out the front runner for a start.
The early 6/1 favourite for the role is Ben Whishaw a selection that focuses neatly on two aspects people always attribute to a Doctor actor. One is a previously seen eccentricity, the other a role that is Doctor like. How many times have people said about a performance “He’d make a good Doctor Who”. The most recent was Eddie Redmayne in the Fantastic Beasts film. Inevitably he is also on the list even though he would cost more than it takes to make a series!
Curiously the other early front runner this time is one of three former Doctors. This is the first time this has happened and bookmakers seem interested in the idea which can- though not always- indicate something is in the air. Certainly Messrs Eccleston, Tennant and Smith have all said in the past year that they sort of wish they’d stayed longer in the role though that does not automatically mean they’d come back. However DW is probably the only show in which you could do that.
Digital Spy has announced 15 potential candidates (thought betting shops even have the likes of Helen Mirren in the race) in all amongst whom are Ben Daniels who has been touted for the role since David Tennant left and was supposedly on the shortlist to replace Matt Smith. More surprising names include Harry Potter’s Ron aka Rupert Grint who is already committed to two other series anyway. Richard Ayoade is on there though he is really more of a presenter / director nowadays and then there’s Miranda Hart.
Well could the next Doctor be a woman? Billie Piper has said it would be a “snub” not to choose one. In theory she could and an example of how it could work lies in the recent spin off series Class. The main role was played by Katherine Kelly and though Miss Quill’s persona was different to the Doctor it did demonstrate how having a female Doctor could work. Was this a dry run to see if it could? I’m not sure Miranda Hart would cope with the role but then again it is a part that can bring out something new from an actor. Katherine Kelly incidentally is also in the betting list. And lest we forget Olivia Coleman is already famlair with incoming show runner Chris Chibnall from Broadchurch.
Other names linked to the part this time round are Rory Kinnear who was one of the front runners last time for some reason though he would probably make a fantastic Master. He has actually said he’s never watched the show and has no idea what it’s about which might actually be a good thing for a new Doctor but these days some sort of fan credentials seem to be required for posts in front and behind the camera. David Harewood is seen as a favourite by some though his commitment to the US show Supergirl may rule him out anyway. And would the Doctor choose to regenerate into the image of someone who tried to kill him a couple of regens ago?
Jason Flemyng is in there again as he was last time as well as Alexander Vlahos from Merlin and Versailles. He’s made the mistake of publicly canvassing for the role which never works. Oh and included on the list is Siobhan Finneran i.e. that grumpy maid in Downton Abbey. I’m not sure where this comes from, possibly her agent?
I know I said I wasn’t going to predict but like Steven Moffat I am sometimes a liar so here are three names who I’d personally think would make excellent Doctors. Each has played a variety of roles with versatility and each would certainly be able to play this enigmatic part while adding something of themselves. Lee Ingleby I mention each time and at 41 he may now be the right age – his CV is packed with great performances but for his Doctor credentials I’d check out Toad of Toad Hall, Our Zoo and Crooked House. Sacha Dhawan, 32, will be known to Whofans for his energetic performance as Waris Hussein in An Adventure in Space and Time but like Ingleby has also played some memorable villains including the sneaky Jimmy Dillon in Mr Selfridge. The youngest on my list 26 year old Luke Newberry could be this decade’s Peter Davison (well Davison was the fifth of the original) he first drew as In the Flesh’s in which he played Kieran Walker. Any doubts that he could play more mature roles were put to rest when he played DC Boyce in last year’s series Into Darkness. Plus he would be the Doctor with the most unusual eyes since Tom Baker!
Of course it is equally probable that none of the names mentioned above or anywhere else will be the next Doctor and that Fred Crumble has already been chosen. You read it here first!