After three years, one Cyberman invasion, and multiple guitar solos, Peter Capaldi’s tenure in the Tardis is at an end – but who is going to replace him?
Everyone is keeping a close eye on the bookies, as a number of names are floated as possible replacements. And with growing public pressure to recast the role with a female actor, it’s never been more difficult to single out who will be stepping into the role.
So, Who Is On The Cards To Journey Through Time And Space?
First aired in 1963, Doctor Who has become a fixture of British culture and the longest running sci-fi show in history. This longevity is due in part to the iconic central character, known only as The Doctor. The character is a centuries-old alien who can ‘regenerate’ every cell in his body when near death. This – rather conveniently – means that the character can be killed off when things are getting stale and new actor can take up the role within the same episode. To date, the series cycling through thirteen actors to date; including greats such as John Hurt, David Tennant and Christopher Ecclestone.
However, deciding on a new Doctor is more easily said than done.
The show is notoriously demanding and requires a huge commitment for any actor. Long shooting days, last minute rewrites, and lots and lots of running are staples on any working day. Any individual taking up the reins is in for a 24/7 job that will see the rest of your career defined as ‘The Doctor’. Even with an estimated paycheque of £500,000 per year, the job pales in comparison to the million-dollar paychecks offered for movies, or the freedom to write and perform your own material. This means that it’s not necessarily suitable for any actor
So, Who’s Likely To Have Interest In Picking Up The Sonic Screwdriver?
Tilda Swinton: A fan favourite casting, the seasoned actor has the chops to pick up the role and run with it, making the male dominated role completely her own. However, the multi-millionaire English actor has two movies lined up for 2017/2018 and has previously denied interest in the role. Realistically, an unlikely choice, but perfect for the role.
Kris Marshall: Best known for starring in the long-running BT ads and ‘My Family’, Marshall’s rumoured casting created an uproar with fans. Without a pedigree and with pressure on a woman to end up in the role, Marshall is unlikely to land the job. However, he has a bit of free time on the cards, after leaving his show ‘Death in Paradise’. A smart punt may be on Marshall to be cast as the Doctor’s new travelling companion – with his comic chops letting him act as the perfect foil or straight-man.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge: A star ascendant, Waller-Bridge has continuously gone from strength-to-strength with her series ‘Fleabag’ earning a second season and recent casting in the Han Solo Star Wars spin off film. While the role would be perfect fit, Waller-Bridge is a creative at heart and the momentum she has built producing her own work is in danger of evaporating will be lost if she takes years out to film.
Olivia Coleman: Last seen in ‘The Night Manager’ and the latest series of ‘Broadchurch’ (which was created by incoming Who show-runner Chris Chibnall), Coleman is on everybody’s list as a potential shoe-in for playing the role. Voucher for by former Doctor and co-star David Tennant, she is a solid, safe pick to land the role.
Ben Whishaw: Arguably the most accomplished actor on this list, Whishaw has gone from strength-to-strength throughout his career; appearing as ‘Q’ in the recent Bond films and playing Hamlet at the RSC. Constantly moving from project to project, a multi-year commitment to a long-running TV series may not be his cup of tea. But if his recent credits in ‘Paddington 2’ and ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ are anything to go by, the allure of being centre-stage again may be too much to resist.
Zawe Ashton: An outside shot, Ashton’s career is on the rise with her success in 2016’s ‘Nocturnal Animals’, plus appearances in ‘Fresh Meat’ and onstage credits such as ‘Rhinoceros’, ‘Othello’ and ‘Salome’. Having previous appeared in the show, Ashton’s perfectly placed to pick up the role and continue her successes to date. However, it remains to be seen if the latest showrunner has the appetite to cast an individual in the role without the name-recognition brought to the table by other actors.
Who Should You Be Looking For?
As we get closer to Capaldi’s handover in the series’ annual Christmas episode, a casting announcement is imminent.
So, what are some hot tips to single out a likely future star?
Keep your ear open for sources: In a world of mobile-phone cameras, leaked emails, and spoilers, iits difficult to keep anything secret in the film and television industry for long. Ahead of Capaldi’s announcement in 2014, all betting shops suspended betting on the actor in the days before his casting was confirmed. Listen out for (reliable) sources online and move as soon as you get the whiff of a spilled secret.
Do we know them: In 2009, the then unknown Matt Smith was cast as the Eleventh Doctor with little more than a few stage credits to his name and appearances on TV. Take a look at theatre reviews in newspapers and see who has been getting consistently good press. Are their IMDB schedules mysteriously spacious for the next few months or have they been a little more secretive about their tweets recently? Keep an eye open because the next Doctor could hiding in plain sight or sitting next to you on the tube…
Are they working: Two clicks on any actor will let you view their IMDB profile. While it is possible to film a movie while on the show, anything more than that will not be possible for an incoming Doctor. If they have any upcoming commitments, check out the size of the role and see if they’re committed to a long-running series or – if it is an established property – how long that character hangs around for.
Think about the feedback: Despite being a British institution, at the end of the day Doctor Who is a show that must be profitable, and to do this they need an audience. The last couple of years have seen criticism levelled at the show for being too complex, scary, and hard to follow. Audience numbers have also dwindled, with the latest Christmas special picking up 6.1m viewers compared to the usual total of 10 million live viewers. A lot of the show’s popularity over the last decade has been accredited to the success of the younger ‘handsome’ doctors played by Tennant and Smith who were more accessible than the dour, edgier take Capaldi took on the role. In order to pick up audience numbers, there’s a strong likelihood that the show-runner will cast younger this time – so maybe think about removing more seasoned actors from your shortlists.