Robbie Williams was approached to play Doctor Who

Rock Doctor!

This will blow your mind – an extra on the new DVD release of The Scream of the Shalka reveals that singer Robbie Williams was approached to play the Doctor!

Robbie Williams was approached to play Doctor WhoBack in 2003, The Scream of the Shalka was (the then) BBC Online’s attempt to produce a 40th anniversary story. Eventually starring Richard E. Grant, Sophie Okonedo and Derek Jacobi (later nuWho’s Great Intelligence, Liz 10 and Professor Yana/The Master), the finished story is an interesting rebirth for the ongoing Doctor Who text – one that was ultimately overwritten (albeit retaining certain elements) by Russell T Davies’ revived TV series.

But before Grant was cast, occasional Take That vocalist Robbie Williams – then Britain’s biggest singing star – was apparently considered and approached, as related in the extra titled Carry on Screaming (appropriate given the various problems the production experienced).

Says writer Paul Cornell:

Because we were reaching for the mainstream, I actually thought, ‘He’s one of the most famous people in Britain’ – it would actually get us an enormous kick of attention.

Producer James Goss, who presents the documentary, adds:

Think about it – if you really wanted to bring Doctor Who to a whole new audience, it would have been the most popular, talked-about thing the BBC website ever did.

The Scream of the Shalka and its now-alternative Ninth Doctor is something of a fascinating footnote in Doctor Who history – but what might have happened if Robbie Williams had been cast? Could it have scuppered the upcoming TV series?

Christian Cawley

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+.

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