The BBC will announce the identity of the next Dr Who, incarnation 13, this Sunday. Speculation about who will be next to take possession of the Tardis and the sonic screwdriver has been fierce.
Which actors are most expected to take the role?
A few names are coming up more often that others, but there’s quite a stark difference between the predictions of the media and fans’ wishlist.
The Guardian seems to be expecting a female Doctor this time round, with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Tilda Swinton and and Jodie Whittaker amongst their suggestions. Nerdist is slating Chewing Gum’s Michaela Coel, while Den of Geek adds Kris Marshall, Sacha Dhawan and Ben Whishaw to the list of possibilities.
Looking at things from a betting point of view, the bookmakers have the top five favourites listed as Jodie Whittaker, Kris Marshall, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Tom Rosenthal and Vicky McClure, who all have 10/1 or better odds on them.
What many of these choices have in common is a link to Broadchurch, which current Dr Who showrunner Chris Chibnall worked on before taking charge of our favourite time traveller. But does a familiarity with the Dr Who team mean these actors are best placed to take up the role?
While Tilda Swinton’s name also comes up frequently amongst fans, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a more polarising choice. Some fans are keen to have Michelle Gomez, currently playing Missy in the show, become the Doctor after regeneration, while others also suggest Hayley Atwell and Helena Bonham Carter.
Not all fans are keen on the idea of a female Dr Who though. Some argue that the Doctor has always been male and shouldn’t change gender for the sake of it, offering actors including Idris Elba, Paterson Joseph and Riz Ahmed as possibilities. Others still believe that any change from a white, male Dr Who is political correctness for the sake of it and oppose any change from the casting formats of the past. This would leave choices like Kris Marshall in the running and there have also been some suggestions that Danny Dyer should become the latest incarnation of the Time Lord.
Choosing by personality not identity
Personally, I think it would be a nice idea to have some variation from the straight, white, uptight male timelord this time around. But it’s more important to make the casting based on whether the actor has shown they can believably portray the Doctor, and that means honing in on what makes the Doctor, the Doctor.
The Doctor is clearly very intelligent because they can pilot the Tardis through space and time, call to memory details of hundreds of different life forms and their habits, and think quickly when in trouble. Yet they also carry the weight of all the decisions they’ve made across time on their shoulders, and have to think about the past, present and future all at once. This would be extremely difficult for even the brightest of minds, so you’d expect them to be a little bit distant sometimes.
The Doctor has seen whole civilisations rise and fall. Including their own people. They must be incredibly lonely. Yet they also know that doing the right thing isn’t the same as doing the easy thing. They have to take difficult decisions that can end up impacting whole planets and anyone they spend time with becomes endangered by association, at risk of injury or death from any of the enemies that the Doctor has made over their lifetime. They somehow have to reconcile what must be a huge need for personal contact against their wider mission.
The ability to make decisions and act on them quickly
Though the Doctor is intelligent, they don’t usually have the luxury of mulling over their dilemmas, debating the pros and cons and working consultatively. No sooner have they worked out what’s going on in a scenario, then they have to escape from the monster / save the innocent bystanders / find a way to stop the evil plan. They need to be someone with a sense of speed, purpose and pragmatism, who can live with being seen as the bad guy taking tough decisions if it means an eventual positive outcome.
So who to choose?
Who would you choose to play the next Doctor, based on these personality traits? Here are my favourites, though they aren’t necessarily the most likely to be cast:
Ever since watching him in Neverwhere as the Marquis de Caribas, I’ve thought Paterson Joseph would make a good Dr Who. He is excellent at portraying a sense of self-assured quickwittedness and winning by knowing the rules better than anyone else on the board. His role in Survivors also showcased how the best laid plans can all be thrown out of the window when emotions come into play and that even though his character was ostensibly focused on self preservation, he didn’t need much persuading to do the right thing.
I hadn’t thought of this possibility until I saw it on Nerdist, but Michaela would make a great Doctor. Her character in Chewing Gum, Tracey, was wonderfully awkward and self conscious in the same way as David Tennant and Mat Smith’s Doctors were; not quite comfortable in their own skin.
I think a Michaela Doctor would be brilliant fun, I can imagine her dashing round in a panic with wild schemes flying around everywhere and her companion(s) rushing to keep up with the flow of of ideas and action!
Ok so this is more of a longshot in terms of the chances of him actually being cast, but… he has had experience in playing fantastical roles, including a main role in kids TV classic Shoebox Zoo as magician Michael Scot and as Death Eater baddie Yaxley in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1.
Both roles involved a level of ruthlessness, pushing other people and their emotions aside to get a job done. He’s well known for playing gruff, slightly awkward roles so I think a Peter Doctor would be closer to Christopher Eccleston, working singlemindedly on his purpose with his companions being as much an irritation as an aid.
Who’s your favourite? Let me know…