Brian Blessed Turned Down Doctor Who In The 1960s!


In perhaps the most disappointing Brian Blessed based news story since he was cast as a racist toad in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace; and not a sabre-wielding Jedi badass (you would have forgiven it for being a trade route based snorefest for one scene of Blessed cleaving attack droids in half. Jedi power: INTENSE SHOUTING!) the bellowing actor turned down the role of the Doctor due to being ‘too busy.’

The 77 year-old actor told Steven Moffat that he couldn’t succeed Matt Smith…no, I’m only joking! Imagine it, Tumblr would explode. No, Blessed explained to the Radio Times that he was approached to star in the show during the 60s as a replacement for the soon departing William Hartnell.

“After I was in Z Cars, the head of BBC serials took me aside and said, ‘We’re thinking of having a young Doctor Who and we’d like to cast you’. But it clashed with other things,” he said.

Blessed went on to soak the land in blood as King Yrcanos in Mindwarp – the second part of The Trial of a Time Lord saga – and, unsurprisingly was the best thing in a serial whose grand ideas never quite gelled.

He went on to find fame in other genre fare such as Flash Gordon, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Roland Rat: The Series, not to mention the superb King Richard IV in 1983 sitcom The Black Adder.


Asked whether or not he’d take the role now, he said: “I’d jump at it.”

Somewhat amusingly, he also went on to discuss what he perceived to be the significance of the Doctor’s surname. “I think they need to re-examine his surname,” he said “’Who’ is very oriental. It’s about time they had an Asian actor as the Doctor. And a female one.”

So if nothing else comes from Brian’s disclosure, we now know he’s a pro-female Doctor man. Good man!

Would Brian Blessed have made a great Doctor? We’ll never know, of course, although we can use this clip from Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) – where he appears with the late, grate Nick Courtney – to get an idea…

Blessed certainly has the kind of outlandish, trickster personality that suggests something of the eternal outsider – well, a rather sonorous outsider (if you live in the UK, Brian Blessed’s voice is kind of like background noise, it’s carried on the wind like traffic and ice cream chimes – it harks back to a simpler time when all our Gordon’s were alive) and, with all the japes about his bluster and bonhomie, its often forgotten just how good an actor he is. It certainly would have been exciting to see Blessed walk in the fourth dimension.

Of course, with him joining the show at such a crucial time – the very first regeneration – it’s enticing to think about just how different the show would have been if he had taken on the role of the Doctor. What kind of Doctor would he be? A regal giant amongst men? A lover of life? Boss Nass?


Do you think Brian Blessed would have made a good Doctor? Do you agree with Brian’s belief that there should be a female Doctor? And why wasn’t he a Jedi Knight?

(Via Mirror Online | With thanks to Daren)


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.

'Brian Blessed Turned Down Doctor Who In The 1960s!' have 5 comments

  1. August 5, 2014 @ 7:38 pm DonnaM

    He’s certainly a better, more nuanced actor than he sometimes appears, but I for one am very glad he turned the part down. Doctor Who without the legend that is Patrick Troughton? Unthinkable!


  2. August 5, 2014 @ 9:32 pm TonyS

    Back then, before he became very much “Brian Blessed” we might have got an excellent Doctor from him. But, as Donna M rightly says, we wouldn’t have got Pat Troughton. I am more than happy with the way things worked out.


  3. August 5, 2014 @ 11:10 pm a fan

    But what if it meant that Patrick Troughton played King Ycranos? Discuss.


  4. August 6, 2014 @ 1:10 am Al

    That clips was weird. Not used to seeing Nick Courtney as a bad guy. And it does prove that Blessed can speak quietly when he wants to. I’d love to see him guest star on the new series; I think he and Capaldi would have some great scenes together. In fact, if they ever decide to “go there” and have an episode featuring the Doctor’s father, they need look no further. I also wish he’d show up on US TV now and then. I think he’d really liven up SHIELD or Once Upon a Time. Heck, in OUAT he could probably just play Prince Vultan again!


  5. August 7, 2014 @ 10:48 am Ranger

    Blessed is a good actor – his portrayal of Augustus in I Claudius is brilliant and he can do freezing quiet menace really well. Unfortunately, he has gone the route of self-caricature with the booming voice taking over everything. Sadly, that’s all he’s known for now.

    He would have been a good Doctor in the early 60′s, but definitely not now.


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