The time is almost upon us; the rumours have been circulating for months. Is the Twelfth Doctor one of these men?
In advance of Sunday evening’s Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor, a gimmicky Time Lord extravaganza in which the identify of Matt Smith’s identity will be revealed, we’re running a poll to see who you would prefer as Doctor number twelve.
Bu before you vote, let’s take a look at the candidates…
59 year old Anthony Stewart Head is well known on both sides of the Atlantic for his role as Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but arguably more recognised in the UK for a series of Gold Blend coffee commercials opposite Sharon Maugham in the 1980s. Latter, he headlined in BBC One’s Merlin as Uther Pendragon and has already appeared in Doctor Who as Mr. Finch in School Reunion (2006) and as the evil Baltazar, Scourge of the Universe in the first animated adventure The Infinite Quest in 2007.
Interestingly, Head auditioned for the Eighth Doctor in late 1995/early 1996.
A comparatively youthful 47 year old, Bennet Evan Miller is recognisable both as the comedy partner of Alexander Armstrong (The Sarah Jane Adventures, The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe) and as the star of the first two series of the BBC’s Death in Paradise. He also appeared as James Lester in ITV’s Primeval.
The fact that Miller quit working in the tropical climes of Guadeloupe for half a year on Death in Paradise has long raised eyebrows with many Doctor Who fans fancying him as an interesting replacement for Matt Smith.
You may know him as the studenty mop top in the BT Internet adverts, but Ben Rugby is far more talented than that. In 2011 he won a BAFTA for Best Actor BAFTA for his outstanding performance as the legendary comic Eric Morecambe. His portrayal in Eric and Ernie was remarkable, so much so that in winning the award he beat both Matt Smith and Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch.
The downside of all this is that Rigby is a young actor, just 30. Fans long calling for an older Doctor may be unhappy with this choice.
Another more mature option is Ben Daniels, well known for his roles in Cutting It and more recently Law & Order UK. Aged 49, the actor has worked extensively on stage and screen over the past 25 years, although his name is perhaps not one you would usually know – or indeed associate with Doctor Who.
Although a fascinating choice – and according the Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston, the most likely, having been offered the job some months ago – Ben Daniels would be the show’s first openly gay lead actor. One’s sexuality obviously has nothing to do with suitability for a job, but it seems difficult imagining an out gay actor in the role after having grown up with Doctor Who as an uncool stick with which to be beaten in the school yard. As long as attitudes among the young have changed, this should be excellent casting.
Ten days ago the star of The Thick of It and its movie version In the Loop was beyond most people’s thoughts as the Twelfth Doctor – yesterday betting closed at one major bookie with the Scots actor (born Peter Dougan Capaldi) as the most likely choice. With a career built from a strong appearance in the 1983 film Local Hero, Capaldi is of course well-known to Doctor Who fans as Caecilius in 2008’s marvellous episode The Fires of Pompeii.
It’s fair to mention, however, that Peter Capaldi holds a particularly important place within Doctor Who fandom, however. The 55 year old actor is in fact a life long fan of the series and in the 1970s ran a fan club in competition with Keith Miller. While the latter was awarded the “official” title by the BBC, the young Capaldi was apparently a bit of a schemer, attempting to grab that all-important title for his own efforts!
A surprise choice when mentioned back in JUne, 35 year old Kinnear is the son of late actor Roy Kinnear and is best known for playing Bill Tanner in the Daniel Craig Bond movies Quantum of Solace and Skyfall, in addition to voice work in video games from the franchise.
What is most notable about this particular rumour is that according to Kinnear himself he has no interest in taking over from Matt Smith, noting recently:
If I was an actor who was really longing to play Doctor Who, then this would be torturous, but it’s a programme I’ve never watched, so I don’t even really know what it is.
Apparently among the contenders for the first non-white Doctor last time around, the 36 year old actor born in London to Nigerian parents is perhaps in the wrong place in his career at the moment for Doctor Who. Probably better for his roles in movies such as Amistad, Love Actually and Children of Men, Ejiofor is also an accomplished stage actor with the lead roles in Romeo & Juliet and Othello under his belt, the latter gaining him the 2008 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor. He’s also played in The Seagull.
Perhaps the most accomplished black actor in Britain, Ejiofor would also be a marvellous choice. However back in 2009 following the reveal of Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, a BBC source was quoted in The Star as saying:
The key phrase is ‘programme-makers’ – some executives were desperate for a black actor to take the role.
Paterson [Joseph] and Chiwetel were both at the top of the list, though both ended up ruling themselves out once they found out what would be expected of them.
There’s no doubt that one or other of them would have walked into the role had they not done so. Once they were out of the running the producers went to Plan B – a young unknown who would happily commit to the part long term.
Although we’re usually suspicious of the unnamed “BBC source” this does seem likely, especially given what we heard in the run up to that particular piece of casting.
David Harewood is another actor with some connection to the previous regeneration, having appeared as Joshua Naismith in The End of Time. Although British viewers may recognise Harewood from the BBC One series Robin Hood or Fat Friends, The 47 year old is perhaps best known as David Estes, Deputy Director of CIA Counterterrorism in the popular Homeland.
His connection to the popular US action series is such that he recently played down his chances, noting
It’s only rumours but it’s amazing to be attached to such an iconic role. It would be extraordinary if the BBC were to make me the first black Doctor Who, it would be extraordinary. But I’m almost scared to make any comment whatsoever.
Finally we have The IT Crowd‘s Richard Ayoade, the casting of whom might be described as both “brilliant” and “stunt” depending upon what you know of the actor and his work. The 36 year old actor, comedian, writer and director was born to a Norwegian mother and a Nigerian father and has strong connections with The Mighty Boosh, having appeared in the radio version and had guest appearances in the TV incarnation; he also acted as script editor for the third series.
He is of course best known for his idiosyncratic performances as Moss in Graham Linehan’s The IT Crowd, but also works as a director, having helmed videos for popular groups such as The Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Like Ejiofor, Doctor Who might be the wrong move at this stage of his career.
On the other hand, 29 year old Damien Molony might be at just the right stage of his fledgling career to take the plunge into Doctor Who, following the natural end of Being Human. Having only two key TV roles to his credit alongside stage work, the actor is a popular choice among fans.
He’s so far refused to rule himself out, too, so if he has been involved with casting the Twelfth Doctor, Molony might be the surprise package, a Matt Smith-style dark horse…
Following his brilliant Dirk Gently (cancelled way too soon by BBC Four), Mangan ha long been one of the Kasterborous editorial team’s big favourites to take over from Matt Smith. Mangan is perhaps a fan himself, admitting in 2012 that
I’d love to be Doctor Who – who wouldn’t, it’s a great part, it’s very exciting.
More recently the actor – who stars in Epiodes with Tamsin Greig and Matt Le Blanc – tweeted this pic:
Who are you? pic.twitter.com/QrQegn71JH
— Stephen Mangan (@StephenMangan) June 1, 2013
We’ll leave the decision up to you…
Finally, we have the accomplished actor and self-confessed fan Samuel West, who previously appeared in the Doctor Who thirtieth anniversary charity um, thing, Dimensions in Time.
At 47 he is another older choice but the son of actors Prunella Scales and Timothy West is an intriguing possibility, with many varied roles under his belt in a career spanning more than 35 years.
So who is your choice? It’s time to vote…
Remember, if your preferred choice doesn’t appear in the list, vote “Other” and share your thongs in the comments section. We’ll discuss the results when the poll closes tomorrow.