Doctor Who News Could Michael Jackson have been Doctor Who?!

Published on July 7th, 2013 | by Andrew Reynolds

New Books Reveals Bizarre Doctor Who Movie Casting

The Sifto Salt Mine in Goderich, Ontario, Canada is one of the largest salt mines in the world and yet it would struggle to haul the almighty pinch of salt needed for the news that Michael Jackson was apparently considered for the lead role in a proposed Doctor Who movie during the eighties, a new book has claimed.

Could Michael Jackson have been Doctor Who?!

Charles Norton’s Now On The Big Screen: The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To Doctor Who At The Cinema alleges that Paramount Pictures was interested in taking the Doctor to the big screen – with the King of Pop their number one choice.

But don’t worry, if they couldn’t land their first choice the studio had a great number two lined up to take his place – Bill Cosby – because if you can’t have Michael Jackson, it’s Cosby all the way. I mean if I’d tickets to see Michael Jackson and he cancelled but the promoter announced: “Don’t worry, we’ve got Bill Cosby!” that would be totally fine.

It also works in the opposite direction too. The Cosby Show was a monster hit during its eight series run, which had an estimated audience of over thirty million households in the US during 1986-87. But you know what it didn’t have?

Michael Jackson.

Sure it had that episode where Sondra and Elvin went to a Michael Jackson gig and the man himself appeared on The Bill Cosby Show but imagine what the ratings would have been like if he had the title role!

“Can we get Michael Jackson?” must have been the default casting suggestion uttered by every movie executive in the eighties for every movie during the height of his popularity.

On paper at least the two suggestions make sense for an admittedly dicey proposition for a movie studio in the 80’s; both of them were riding on the crest of a wave in terms of critical and commercial success.

However Michael’s previous acting experience was limited to say the least; with only a role as the Scarecrow in The Wiz and the music video anthology movie Moonwalker to his name –as well as the never- realised, bizarre-sounding fantasy movie called MidKnight, to be written by Edward Scissorhands scribe Caroline Thompson and directed by Batman designer Anton Furst.

As well as unearthing unlikely casting suggestions the book weaves a narrative from the colourful world of the Peter Cushing movies – Dr Who and the Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150AD – through the unending torment of ‘Development Hell’, right up to the present day with new interviews with those involved.

The book also contains never before published paperwork from the British Board of Film Censors, telling the difficult story of Doctor Who’s tumultuous relationship with the silver screen.

Charles Norton’s Now On The Big Screen: The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To Doctor Who At The Cinema is available now from Telos for £15.99 for the paperback and £30.00 for the hardback edition, and we’ll have a review for you soon!


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About the Author


Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

17 Responses to New Books Reveals Bizarre Doctor Who Movie Casting

  1. avatar Manette says:

    What about Captain Eo, man? After watching that, maybe they didn’t think him playing The Doctor was too far off. You’re forgetting, Michael Jackson used to be really cool. That being said, I’m glad that never happened.

  2. avatar Tina says:

    Can you imagine it – he’s facing off against the Daleks, points his sonic screwdriver at them, and suddenly we hear “Because I’m Bad, I’m Bad-
    Come On
    (Bad Bad-Really, Really Bad)
    You Know I’m Bad, I’m Bad-
    You Know It”
    coming out of it, while he moonwalks around them!
    Or maybe he’d do the Thriller zombie dance at the Cybermen

  3. avatar Becca says:

    what does the Goderich salt mines have to do with the rest of the article? don’t get me wrong i’m glad my town was mentioned but why?

  4. Pingback: New Books Reveals Bizarre Doctor Who Movie Casting – Doctor Who UK Webzine | Kooky Ideas

  5. avatar TimeChaser says:

    Well, Michael Jackson had done a little scifi when he filmed the Captain Eo 3D film for Disney’s Epcot theme park, which I saw when I was young on a school field trip. But playing the Doctor… this is why it must be kept out of American hands (and I say this as an American). People have these crazy, lofty ideas that make no bloody sense. They don’t have the first clue about what kind of person it really takes to play the Doctor.

  6. avatar BOJAY says:

    These bizarre stories just keep coming to light. I’ve always said, that whenever any of us Whovians are tempted to complain about something that happens with Doctor Who, we should all pause and be very, very grateful for what DIDN’T. From stuff like this, to the infamous “Leekley Bible” that would have been the blueprint for the 90′s revival, to Spielberg relating to TV Movie Producer Philip Segal that David Hasselhoff was once very interested in playing the Doctor, we have many potent examples of what might have happened if Doctor Who ended up in the hands of someone who hadn’t the slightest clue what it actually is.

    • avatar TimeChaser says:

      You are indeed right Bojay. We’ve dodged the bullet many times it seems.

  7. avatar geoff says:

    That’s a very good way of looking at it. The “Steven Moffat has ruined Doctor Who” brigade would do well to remember this. Of course I stand to be corrected if he announces Justin Bieber as the 12th Doctor next month. No mention in this article how in the 80s every other week you read a story about a Doctor Who movie starring Donald Sutherland being on the brink of commission. Sadly never happened. He would have been good but unfortunately all we’ve got is him being a bit Doctory for 3 minutes in Kate Bushs Cloudbusting video.

  8. avatar zarbisupremo says:

    Who’s the black guy in the pic ? He looks nothing like Bill Cosby.

    • avatar BOJAY says:

      That’s how Cosby looks when he goes out on the weekend.

  9. avatar TonyS says:

    Charlie Sheen doesn’t sound so unlikely now

  10. avatar TonyS says:

    Casting Michael Jackson would not only be bad, it’d be dangerous…

    • avatar Philip Bates says:

      After that groan-inducing remark, I take no qualms in telling you to Beat It. ;P

      • avatar TonyS says:

        Thankfully no-one is suggesting that it would be a thriller

  11. avatar TimeChaser says:

    What it boils down to is that these people who wanted to make Doctor Who feature films and whatnot only saw it as a brand they could exploit. They very likely knew nothing of the history of the show, or its loyal fandom. To them, it was just a name to market, and what better way to market something than with a big name star? They just didn’t have a clue.

    • avatar BOJAY says:

      That’s the prevalent philosophy in Hollywood for you. Push the “brand” even if what’s produced doesn’t have anything to do with what the “brand” supposedly represents. It’s indicative of the lack of any original thinking out there, and the reason for all the idiotic remakes we have been seeing made.

  12. Pingback: Doctor Who News Round-Up: Rory Kinnear Denies 12th Doctor Rumors, No Female Directors & Comic-Con Details | We Minored In Film

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