Doctor Who News Is Benedict Cumberbatch playing the Master?

Published on February 27th, 2012 | by Christian Cawley

Is Cumberbatch… The Master?

Is Benedict Cumberbatch playing the Master?From Sherlock to Star Trek… and then onto Doctor Who? That’s the message being spread by UK paper the Daily Express today, who claims that the Sherlock Holmes actor Benedict Cumberbatch is going to play the other last Time Lord in 2013′s 50th anniversary!

Although he has shot to fame as the modern incarnation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective – thanks to Doctor Who writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss – Cumberbatch is allegedly replacing previous Master John Simm, appearing on screens opposite Matt Smith next year.

The previous incarnation of the Master – there have been six in all (depending on your interpretation) – was last seen in The End of Time, Part Two, where he was believed to have headed back to the time locked Gallifrey.

The Daily Express cites “programme insiders” as saying that actors will “lock horns” next year.

“It’s fitting that the Doctor comes face to face with his ultimate enemy, The Master, for the 50th anniversary and it’s felt Benedict is the perfect choice if schedules can work,” we’re told. “Fans will love the idea of the man who plays Sherlock Holmes taking on the Doctor’’.

“Benedict has often been asked about whether he would like to play the Doctor so it will be ironic if he now
ends up being The Master instead.”

It is of course fascinating that an actor who was rumoured to be interested in Doctor Who when Matt Smith won the part should be playing the Time Lord’s most sword enemy. If true then it will certainly cash in on Cumberbatch’s growing stature; he’s recently been cast as the villain in the forthcoming Star Trek film (also due for release in 2013).

What do you think? Tabloid filler or genuine story?


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

23 Responses to Is Cumberbatch… The Master?

  1. avatar Krumstets says:

    Whats wrong with John Simm in the role? Has he said he didn’t want to do it again?
    Benedict said he didn’t want to play the Doctor because he didn’tc want his face appearing on childrens lunchboxes.
    Tabloid fodder indeed…

    • avatar Spark says:

      Yeah.. Cumberbatch doesn’t deserve it due to his snottiness when he was asked about becoming the Doctor. As you say, what’s wrong with John Simm? I hope this is just wishful thinking by people who seem to be obsessed with ‘Wholock’.

    • Last April John Simm said he would “certainly consider” returning. “There seems to have been a lot of talking about it recently, but I haven’t spoken to anyone about it.”

      Nothing since, however…

      • avatar Krumstets says:

        I notice that this story comes just after pics of BC on the set of the new Star Trek film have been published.

        Here he plays a baddie ( I think ) and that might have given impetus to this story.

        Since John Simm is still officially the Master , maybe Benedict could be the Valeyard. Or even a butched up Lesbian Rani ?

        • I’m intrigued that you describe the “Lesbian Rani”, given her previous incarnation’s obvious fascination with Mel…

          • avatar Paddy says:

            …I just threw up a little in my mouth.

  2. avatar TonyS says:

    If the Moff really wanted to recast the Master, I would hope he would have the imagination to look further than the star of his other hit show. “Daily Excess” having a slow news day?

  3. avatar Graeme Robertson says:

    I think there’s little chance (even though his Mum was in it 3 times) as he’s just to busy this year,

  4. avatar James says:

    Any media source cited as “an insider” is simply code for “we thought we’d publish this idea and see how many people believe it”.

    I don’t see why we couldn’t just have John Simm as The Master for more stories with his first Moff-written episodes. He could return really quite dark and menacing under The Moff, rather than a cackling buffoon like in ‘The End Of Time’.

    • avatar Graeme Robertson says:

      have to admit I hated John Simm’s Master episodes & would have much preferred Derek Jacobi to have carried on

      • avatar James says:

        Oh I definitely agree that more of Derek Jacobi’s Master would be better than Simm. He should have got more screen time (although that wouldn’t have worked as well in ‘Utopia’, I know) as he was brilliantly menacing and far more true to the original Master character than Simm, though Simm’s was meant to be The Master gone insane.

  5. avatar Krumstets says:

    Maybe because they have just published some pics from the latest Star Trek movie with BC as a baddie some lazy hack came up with this story…

  6. avatar Rick Lundeen says:

    Cumberbatch would be a huge improvement over Simm. Simm was too goofy/crazy in the role. Cumberbatch would bring a much darker, more sinister Master and would really compliment Smiths Doctor. A shame that Jacobi couldn’t stick around but Benedict is an excellent choice. Hopefully this rumor turns out to be true.

    • avatar Debra says:

      Rick, if you paid attention you’d know that John Simm was following the direction of Russell T. Davies, who had to keep telling Simm to “make it bigger.” Simm’s one of the best actors in Britain today, and can certainly make the Master much darker. Do yourself a favor and watch some of Simm’s other works. You’ll be happily surprised.

      • avatar Rick Lundeen says:

        Debra, I don’t care *why* he did it. I didn’t like the way he *did* do it, whatever excuses there are, direction or otherwise. I have seen him in another show and yes he’s a very good actor. Please don’t get snarky with me with this “paying attention” nonsense.

        Another reason not to have simm come back, I think it’d be a better choice to have different Masters teamed up with different Doctors.

        • avatar Krumstets says:

          It’s true that Simms Master was too goofy/crazy .

          Maybe if he did come back he could take it down a notch or two and develop his Master to become something darker and a little less OTT and at least be given the chance to move his characterisation further.

          I am sure Benedict would be great too , but maybe give Simm another go…

  7. avatar Simon Spencer says:

    I don’t think that Cabbage Patch will be playing the Master; that’s just wishful thinking at the hands of plenty of newspapers who’ve wanted him in Doctor Who.

    The real discussion is actually what the Silence are and where they really come from, which I doubt is Earth. They remind me of a class of species the Time Lords created in a non-existent timestream called the War in Heaven, known as War Forms. These were developed as races that resembled monsters, but had psychic abilities similar to a Time Lord’s own aetherkinetic powers (channelling their energy as a weapon). What we do know is there was a voice similar to Davros in the TARDIS during the “crack in time” incident, and that the Silence’s vessel had properties of a TARDIS and the Daleks…

    Knowing the Time Lords and an adapted breed of Daleks were effectively wiped out during the Time War; if you had a common enemy, isn’t it reasonable to assume that maybe the two leaders of that war might join together to create a race powerful enough to fight him?!

  8. avatar Mugen Pharoah says:

    This has about as much substance as the Master’s see-through skin in the End of Time…

    When’s the Who/Sherlock crossover I want to know (CIN/Comic Relief)?

    I think the Simm master was pretty good actually, though the Master’s story needs to continue following his disappearance in the End of Time, played by any good actor please. I think old Koschei may have re-entered the Time War through Rassilon’s opening (oo-er) where he could fiddle about with the past –oh i dunno…

    Cumberbund would be a good Master but I think he will have bigger fish to fry than TV in 2013

  9. avatar Gruff says:

    BC = dream Master if he wasn’t already Sherlock. Now it is last journalism mixed with fanboy dreams.

    JS = a good Master for his time, but all things must pass and asides from an appearance to enable a regeneration I think he should now move on too.

    So who else…

    Idris Elba would be fantastic, but again he is a big name already.

    As a Wire fan I have to say McNulty was great in the Fred West thing and might be keen on a UK tv role.

    Not sure whether they will take the Master back to an older actor quite yet, but Ian Richardson would be great too.

    • Ian Richardson died 5 years ago. One imagines he could perhaps draw comparisons with the Pratt/Beevers Master, but other than that…

      • avatar Gruff says:

        Cheers realised straight away but had to go to work. He would have played a great Master though!

        Dominic West would be great, though I’m not sure if he would consider DW a bit mainstream.

  10. avatar Bex says:

    I dunno, I think BC and Mattie are just too similar to have it out as archnemeses… though Benedict can pull off a pretty sweet villain, and I am totally psyched to see him in Star Trek. I’d love for John Simm to come back, but I can’t say honestly that my suspension of disbelief wouldn’t be strained by a second rising-from-the-dead for him. I think they’ll HAVE to use a past/parallel/whatever incarnation (i.e. a new actor).

  11. avatar Steve Andrew says:

    “programme insiders” = “tabloid columnist trolling for hits”

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