Ten people we’d like to see take on the role of the Twelfth Doctor on Doctor Who

Romola Garai

Romola Garai

The hit BBC show Doctor Who released some saddening yet inevitable news this weekend; Matt Smith, who plays the eleventh incarnation of the titular Doctor, will be leaving the show following this year’s Christmas special. Smith’s departure is not unprecedented; in fact, the very nature of the character at the centre of the show is that they regenerate into a new person every so often, a loophole that allows for a seamless departure of a performer without disrupting the show. Speculation on who shall play the Time Lord after Smith’s departure has always existed in some form, never lower than a murmur, and is bound to intensify now that there is a definitive end date to Smith’s tenure.  To that end, here are ten performers we’d like to see take on the role of The Doctor after Smith’s departure.

1)      Chiwetel Ejiofor

Known to many film fans for head-turning supporting performances in Serenity, Children of Men, and Inside Man, Ejiofor has proven himself capable of handling a wide variety of emotions convincingly and effectively, a key trait for anyone who takes on the role of The Doctor. The part requires someone who can go from conveying a sense of childlike awe to giving the air of a ruthless army general at the drop of a hat, something Ejiofor is perfectly capable of doing. In making him the Twelfth Doctor, the show would gain a fantastic actor, and Ejiofor would get a well-deserved high profile role, making it a win-win for everyone.

2)      Kate Ashfield

Kate Ashfield is perhaps best known to many for her role as the object of Shaun Pegg’s affections in the 2004 zombie comedy hit Shaun of the Dead. Her ability to keep a straight face and play it serious in the face of increasingly incredulous surroundings, however, as displayed in the movie, makes her a great fit for the role of The Doctor. Whoever takes on the role will have to effectively sell the idea of The Doctor’s numerous unconventional foes, from the Daleks to the Weeping Angels, being among the most feared beings in the universe, a feat that Ashfield is more than capable of pulling off if given the opportunity.

Lara Pulver

Lara Pulver

3)      Lara Pulver

One of the highlights of Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat’s other show, Sherlock, was the character of Irene Adler. While many have expressed concern about the changes the show chose to make from the version of Adler presented in the original books, very few disagreed with the notion that Lara Pulver was perfect for the role, exuding a sense of confidence and an air of being the smartest person in the room. Those same skills would serve her well in playing the role of The Doctor as well, and her prior work with Moffat gives her an added advantage of being comfortable with him as well, making her a great choice to take over from Matt Smith.

4)      Naomie Harris

Actress Naomie Harris has turned in a series of strong supporting performances over the years, in everything from 28 Days Later to the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean features, to Miami Vice to, most recently, Skyfall. The diverse range of film genres in which she has worked proves her versatility, and her ability to get noticed even when working alongside stars such as Johnny Depp and Daniel Craig are proof positive that she can handle a leading role as big as the one she’d be given with a show like Doctor Who. All told, Harris would be an excellent selection for the Twelfth Doctor, and would be able to put her own spin on the character while staying true to the show’s roots.

5)      Naveen Andrews

Known to most for his fantastic turn as Iraqi ex-soldier Sayid Jarrah in the hit series Lost, Naveen Andrews may seem like an odd choice for this role, given that Sayid was a stoic and calculating character who rarely stepped into the forefront without assessing a situation thoroughly. However, those are key ingredients of the Time Lord at the centre of Doctor Who as well, and Andrews would be able to perfectly convey the Doctor’s desire to intervene when necessary, but remain in the shadows when it is not. In addition, out-of-character interviews with Andrews reveal an individual with a genuine sense of humour, which is a side Andrews was unable to show much of on Lost, but which would fit in right at home on Doctor Who, allowing him to blend both sides together to give a potentially memorable performance.

Parminder Nagra

Parminder Nagra

6)      Parminder Nagra

Perhaps best known for her leading role in 2002’s surprise hit Bend It Like Beckham, Nagra has also since spread her wings on television, in key roles on E.R. and the short-lived Alcatraz. All three performances required her to portray a character who was resourceful in the face of adversarial situations that seemed over her head at first glance, and she delivered equally well all three times. Ending up in adversarial conditions that require a level of resourcefulness to resolve is one of the defining traits of The Doctor, thus making Nagra a sure thing in being able to convey the sense of danger and skill, week in and week out, that make the character so iconic, and thus a great choice for the role.

7)      Paul Bettany

Paul Bettany has made a career out of playing unexpected and offbeat supporting roles in movies such as A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code, making, in a sense, his entire career a leadup to the most offbeat role of all, that of a 1200 year old time and space travelling alien with two hearts. Bettany’s proven himself a skilled actor time and time again, often being listed as the highlight of otherwise dismal features, and there’s no doubt he would be able to pull off the demands of playing The Doctor, and bring a unique style to his performance that would set him apart from the other inhabitants of the role.

8)      Romola Garai

In her role as 50s news producer Bel Rowley on the BBC series The Hour, Garai commanded the screen as her character battled through pressures from all facets of her life, trying to do what was right, and what felt right, throughout. The Doctor has similarly been called on to grapple with moral dilemmas and questions of the greater good, and will no doubt continue to do so, and Garai has proven that she can bring the necessary gravitas to her performance to lend weight to those situations, and how she tackles a role in a completely different genre from her last television outing could prove fascinating to watch.

Rupert Grint

Rupert Grint

9)      Rupert Grint

Perhaps the most famous name on this list, Grint already has a career-defining role in his resume as Ron Weasley, best friend to Harry Potter across eight films spanning ten years. The standout trait of Weasley, which Grint was able to wonderfully convey onscreen, was his compassion and willingness to wade into danger to help protect someone. Fans of Doctor Who will recognise this as something Ron has in common with The Doctor, who will often come to the defence of seemingly outmatched beings in the universe, often being the only thing standing between them and total destruction, and Grint would be able to convey that determination to do good excellently. He would also fulfill a lifelong dream of The Doctor by being the character’s first ginger incarnation, which is a nice bonus.

10)   Terence Stamp

Despite its recent rise in popularity in North America, Doctor Who remains, at its heart, a quintessentially British show, and very few working actors are more quintessentially British than Terence Stamp, perhaps best exemplified and played up in his role in The Limey. Stamp has proven, over his long career, to be effective at tackling roles of all kinds, whether serious, comedic, or a blend of the two, and is no stranger to the science fiction genre, most notably playing the role of General Zod in Superman II. He can be relied on to pull off being the centre of focus no matter the situation, and would be a fantastic choice to take over from Smith.


Of course, these are just a few of the people who would be a great addition to the group of actors who have driven the TARDIS. None of this accounts for the possibility of going outside the UK to find someone suitable for the role, taking someone like John Cho out of the running, nor does it allow for the possibility of someone who has previously appeared on the show to return as the newest incarnation, ruling out the likes of Sophie Okonedo, who played Liz 10 in Season 5 of the show. The show, since its revival in 2005, has also done an excellent job of casting previously unknown performers, all of whom have been stellar choices, and going down this route is likely to yield positive results once again. No matter who ends up in the role following the Christmas Special and Smith’s departure, however, one thing is sure; watching their translation of The Doctor will be a lot of fun.

- Deepayan Sengupta

By Deepayan Sengupta

There was once a time when I thought Scarface was the best movie ever made, and Home Improvement was appointment television for me. While I still have a soft spot for both, those days of naivete are long behind me, as I’ve subsequently managed to broaden my horizons. Ambition is the most important part of a movie for me; if it tries to do something unique, tell a well-worn story in a different way, or take on large themes in a honest manner, I can forgive many flaws. If there’s one movie fact I’ve learnt after all these years, it’s that Employee of The Month is to Office Space what fast food is to fresh fruit.

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15 Responses to Ten people we’d like to see take on the role of the Twelfth Doctor on Doctor Who

  1. John Taylor July 27, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Sorry, but definitely not a woman. Would like to see Donna Noble return as a companion.

  2. GhaniLeiK June 7, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Probably would never happen but… I’d like to see Ben Whishaw or Andrew Lee Potts as the next Doctor.

  3. BarbqueButt June 4, 2013 at 2:07 pm


    You realize, of course, that both David Tennant and Sylvester McCoy are both Scottish, right?

  4. TheHedd June 4, 2013 at 1:17 am

    Only one real choice for me… Idris Elba. The man has charisma in buckets and more then enough ability to pull of all the nuances of being “The Doctor”.

    Good to see the list was kept “British”. Anyone who things that anyone other then a Brit (regardless of who they might be) is going to be sorely disappointed.

  5. Raggedman June 3, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Let’s not forget that Colin baker played a gallifreyan security guard in the 5th doctor episode “arc of infinity”. So having previously appeared in the series as another character would not rule a performer out.

  6. Deepayan Sengupta June 3, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Points addressing, Part 2

    – Mark, this appears to be your first visit to this site. I encourage you to look around, as we have several excellent writers and several excellent articles currently going on.

    – I never saw Misfits, due entirely to my own shortcomings, but I’ve always heard great things about the performers on the show, so Ruth Negga certainly sounds like a great pick. As to Nesbitt, he very capably carried the challenging lead role in Jekyll from what I’ve seen, and how he handles the complex range the role of The Doctor would demand could be interesting, definitely.

    – Doctor Who canon not being solid makes the idea of a female Doctor more plausible, rather than less, I would say. Like Ana points out, there are no limits, and a shaky canon only reinforces that.

    Thanks for reading and commenting, everyone!

  7. BarbqueButt June 3, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    To comment on the author’s comment that that The Doctor is not a man and that Corsair had regenerated in both genders:

    In Invasion of Time, Rodan describes herself as a “Time Lady”. While this is thin, and doesn’t describe a whole lot, it implies to me that there are two distinct Gallifreyan genders. Otherwise, I feel like they would have would have just called her a Time Lord.

    I don’t know, I don’t think Doctor Who canon is as solid as we’d like.

  8. Paul Kemp June 3, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I believe James Nesbitt would make an excellent Doctor.
    He was superb in Steven Moffat’s Jekyll.

  9. Ana June 3, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Loving this diverse and interesting take on the casting for such an iconic character. The DW series is in an unique and ideal position to really showcase some great actors and to stand as an example in diverse casting choices…if only the showrunners would dare to go there. This is the sci-fi genre we’re talking about. There are no limits.

    I’d also toss Ruth Negga into the mix. I really enjoyed her short stint on Misfits and think she’d make an interesting candidate. Not likely to happen (love Garai and Ejiofor on this list though), but I can dream.

  10. Mark June 3, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Rather lazy in that you didn’t bother to show photos of all of the suggestions.

  11. Deepayan Sengupta June 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    To address some of the points that have been brought up in these comments

    – The Doctor is not a man. The Doctor is a 1200-year-old Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. There are no rules governing The Doctor’s regeneration that rule out a regeneration into a woman, and in The Doctor’s Wife, The Doctor states that fellow Gallifreyan Corsair had both male and female forms. So this limitation is imaginary and not canon.

    – Warwick Davis and Mark Sheppard have both played other characters in the Doctor Who universe, which I feel would rule them out, because if The Doctor were to regenerate into someone who’s a lookalike of a previous character, it’d open up all sorts of timey-wimey questions.

    – Jamie Bamber and Nick Moran are solid choices for the role too. And since The Doctor does “die”, so to speak, Sean Bean may be ideal for the part. At the very least, it’d be steady work for him.

  12. Albatross June 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Warwick Davis!

  13. tkc June 3, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    The only one on that list that really stands out for me is Chiwetel Ejiofor.

    Other people I’d consider:
    Jamie Bamber, Apollo from BSG.

    Mark Sheppard, mostly for Badger in Firefly.

    Nick Moran, From Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.

    Sean Bean, from all sorts of things where his character gets killed. So maybe not.

  14. Muse1492 June 3, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I was wondering the same thing, but it would be an interesting twist for his LAST Regeneration into the 13th Doctor in order to procreate the species. However, this is not the last regeneration.

  15. THGhost June 3, 2013 at 11:05 am

    What’s with all the women? The Doctor is a man for crying out loud!


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