The Brigadier - Day of the Daleks

Twelve Actors Who Have Played Multiple Notable Roles in Doctor Who

The universe is big and vast and complicated, and sometimes, multiple castings happen and we call them miracles.

Yes, some people may have freaked out when Peter Capaldi was cast as the Doctor, because he had appeared in the Whoniverse before, as Caecilius in 2008′s The Fires of Pompeii and as John Frobisher in Torchwood: Children of Earth. And whilst there are rumours that these recurring faces may be addressed at some point in Series 8, we take a look back at twelve other actors who have played multiple roles in the show’s history, and we ask, Does it really matter if we’ve seen them before…?

Colin Baker

Sixth Doctor and Davros

The most famous example of a repeat casting would have to be the Sixth Doctor himself, who notably appeared in the show just a couple of years before his official debut, as Commander Maxil in 1983′s Arc of Infinity. Now, I wasn’t actually around when the news of Mr Baker’s casting hit the headlines, so I’m not sure if this was the subject of any lively debate at the time? But of course, Whovians were already aware that Time Lords could choose the faces of people they’d met before…

Lalla Ward

Princess Astra Romana

Case in point. Romana’s regeneration in the opening scene of Destiny of the Daleks is a controversial one, not least because the character cycles through bodies like she’s trying on sweaters in Primark, and apparently for no reason (she seemed quite healthy at the end of The Armageddon Factor!). But at least she acknowledges that she copied the body, as many viewers would have been aware that Lalla Ward had already appeared in the previous story in the guise of Princess Astra. So for Time Lords, at least, there’s a handy get-out clause for repeat castings.

But what about companions?

Jacqueline Hill

Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright in Doctor Who: The Aztecs

There’s really no escaping this one. Jacqueline Hill played the First Doctor’s companion Barbara Wright, and then returned in the 1980 story Meglos as Lexa, marking the first time in which a companion had returned to the series as a different character.

The event goes unchecked (in story terms) and that’s probably no bad thing, as it would have been a beast to explain! But then, Lexa is wearing a rather fetching turban, and is about twenty years older than the teacher from the Coal Hill School. Maybe this is enough of a disguise…?

Nicholas Courtney

Daleks Master Plan

Next we have the famous Brigadier nee Colonel Lethbridge Stewart, a stalwart of the series from 1968 until 1989. And as many of us know, he appeared in the series a few years earlier, alongside William Hartnell’s Doctor in 1965′s The Daleks’ Masterplan. Admittedly, he was a raring-to-go space agent, and he was missing his famous moustache, so any similarities to UNIT’s Brig were certainly minimal. If you’re an ardent continuity enthusiast, this one should give you the least cause for concern.

Freema Agyeman

Adeola

Finally, a character similarity that was acknowledged! Freema famously played the Tenth Doctor’s companion Martha Jones, first appearing in 2007′s Smith and Jones, but she’d popped up in the previous season as Torchwood employee Adeola, who’d been swiftly ‘upgraded’ by the Cyber hoard!

The fact that these two characters were identical was no biggie for script supremo Russell T Davies - they were cousins! Simples.

Michael Sheard

The Invisible Enemy

Oh boy – ‘simples’ this ain’t! The wonderful Michael Sheard made more comebacks than Anthony Ainley’s Master (almost), clocking up six appearances in the series, starting with The Ark in 1966, followed by The Mind of Evil in 1971, Pyramids of Mars in 1975, The Invisible Enemy in 1977, Castrovalva in 1982, and Remembrance of the Daleks in 1988.

However, thanks to the natural passage of time, Mr Sheard does look suitably different in each story in which he appears, so I think we can rest easy. If not, the ‘multiple cousins’ card is still on the table…

Pamela Salem

Remembrance of the Daleks - Pamela Salem

I love Pamela Salem, and I must admit I had to think hard about her various appearances, as the first one that always comes to mind is her role of Rachel Jensen in 1988′s Remembrance of the Daleks. But she did, of course, play the wonderful Commander Toos in 1977′s The Robots of Death, and I think it is more of a testament to her fine acting, rather than makeup, that makes this repeat casting so wonderfully subtle. I have no issue with Pamela Salem cropping up again – make her the Series 9 companion, I say!

Karen Gillan

Karen - Fires of Pompeii

Similarly, you have to think really hard about Karen Gillan’s Doctor Who appearances, aside from the obvious Amelia Pond between 2010 and 2012. She was also in The Fires of Pompeii as one of the Sisters of the Sybilline, buried under a ton of makeup and a fancy robe, with a distinctly un-Scottish accent.

In hindsight, though, it is fascinating to think that this obscure number from 2008 proved to be such a prophetic episode in terms of casting; it contains a future companion and a future Doctor! Now all we need is for the writer James Moran to become the show-runner and Gallifrey Base will go into lockdown!

Eve Myles

Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper in Torchwood: Miracle Day

Next we have the lovely Eve Myles, made famous as Gwen Cooper in the spin-off series Torchwood, who later appeared in 2008′s The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End. Rewind three years, though, and you’ll see her in 2005′s The Unquiet Dead as the similarly-named Gwyneth, who just so happens to live in Cardiff as well! Fortunately, the estimable Russell T Davies was on hand with his relatives and spacial genetic multiplicities to explain this uncanny resemblance, and fandom breathed a huge sigh of relief (and maybe scratched its head a little). In short – never live on top of a rift in time and space.

Neve McIntosh and Dan Starkey

A Silurian, a maid and a Sontaran in the Doctor Who Christmas special "The Snowmen"

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, The Paternoster Gang are scattered throughout the time vortex. Not only did Silurian Neve McIntosh and Sontaran Dan Starkey head up a detective agency in Victorian London, but they also had villainous relatives in previous adventures! Look out of Neve McIntosh in 2010′s The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood as the suitably evil Restac and her twin sister Alaya, followed by Dan Starkey as Commander Skorr and Lieutenant Skree in The Sontaran Stratagem and The Poison Sky (he’s  in The End of Time and The Time of the Doctor as well). Given that the Sontarans are a clone race, and many of the Silurians look the same anyway, I don’t think we need to lose too much sleep over this one.

Lynda Baron

dw-s6-closingtime-gall3

Finally, we have the wonderful Lynda Baron who made her first appearance in Doctor Who as the conniving Captain Wrack in 1983′s Enlightenment, followed by the somewhat friendlier Val in 2011′s Closing Time. As with Michael Sheard, the ‘passing of time’ plays a part in helping to distinguish these characters’ outward appearances. Plus, of course, one of them his pure evil, whilst the other is pure innocence!

I particularly wanted to mention Lynda Baron as she also features in one of my all-time favourite stories – The Gunfighters from 1966. Although she never appears on screen, she provides the omnipresent ‘Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon’ from behind the cameras. And whilst the song is unlikely to receive a Dominic Glynn remix anytime soon (or in fact, ever!), I definitely thought it was worthy of a mention, as it’s sung so brilliantly. Just as well, really, as it comprises about 50% of the story…!

So there we are – twelve shining examples of notable actors who have made multiple appearances in Doctor Who. Whilst some are tricky for continuity purists to circumnavigate, many of the repeat castings are explained by the story’s writers. And if anyone still has any concerns as to who, exactly, “frowned” the Twelfth Doctor’s face for him… Well, you probably won’t have much longer to wait…



About

likes William Hartnell, whisky, being creative, debating canonicity, The Gunfighters, The Keys of Marinus and City of Death. He has a strong dislike of cold quiche, corporate PowerPoint presentations and lanyards, but loves terrible puns. He's currently employed by a mute teddy bear with black ears.


'Twelve Actors Who Have Played Multiple Notable Roles in Doctor Who' have 23 comments

  1. August 17, 2014 @ 11:58 am Hermes Barreto Neto


    You may want to check the multiple roles of the actress who was Harriet Jones :)

    Reply

  2. August 17, 2014 @ 1:28 pm Richard Bowes


    I can’t believe you didn’t include Michael Wisher or Philip Madoc. Doctor Who alumni!

    Reply

    • August 17, 2014 @ 2:28 pm TimeChaser


      Or Prentis Hancock. I mean how many times was he in the show?

      Reply

      • August 17, 2014 @ 4:36 pm John Miller


        I tried upvoting some posts, and then watched my vote disappear, and the scores reset to “0″.

        Reply

    • August 17, 2014 @ 2:38 pm Philip Bates


      Yep, I’m sure Alex found it tough to just limit it to 12, but that number really fitted!

      Reply

    • August 18, 2014 @ 12:19 am joe


      Yeah, complete joke. Eva Myles and Lynda Baron but no Michael Wisher or Philip Madoc?! Ridiculous.

      Reply

      • Christian Cawley

        August 18, 2014 @ 7:17 am Christian Cawley


        Can you count to 12?

        There are far more than twelve actors who fit the criteria. The list is entirely subjective.

        Reply

      • August 18, 2014 @ 8:17 am TonyS


        We all have actors we would have chosen. This is Alex’s list. It’s clearly not meant to be definitive. And it has sparked a debate. So the article works for me :)

        Reply

  3. August 17, 2014 @ 4:16 pm John Miller


    Edward Brayshaw was Leon Colbert in Reign of Terror, and then later returned as The Master.

    Where’s Jean Marsh? John Leeson? Paul Darrow(neither that notable, but he himself is)

    Reply

    • August 17, 2014 @ 5:56 pm TonyS


      as the War Chief- not the Master.

      Reply

      • August 18, 2014 @ 6:14 am John Miller


        I honestly believe that anyone who can watch Doctor Who and come to the conclusion that there is a Time Lord who calls himself ‘The War Chief’ would probably be better off watching the Fimbles or Playschool.

        Reply

        • Christian Cawley

          August 18, 2014 @ 7:18 am Christian Cawley


          Why?

          It’s quite clearly stated in the script that he calls himself “The War Chief”.

          Reply

          • August 18, 2014 @ 8:30 am John Miller


            It is clearly stated in the script that the group is led by a man calling himself ‘The War Lord’. Other company designations include ‘The War Chief’, ‘The Security Chief’ etc. So, it’s only while working with the War Lord that he will be ‘The War Chief’. Before he ever met the War Lord he wouldn’t be ‘The War Chief’. And after the War Lord and all his cronies are removed from the web of time, that Time Lord wouldn’t be called ‘The War Chief’. The Master also calls himself ‘Kalid’ in Time-Flight, and the script and the end credits (and the character himself) credit him as ‘Kalid’. But we don’t say that there is a Time Lord called ‘Kalid’. Same thing with ‘The Melkur’ in The Keeper of Traken. Or ‘Mr Seta’ in Dust Breeding. Or similar things with Professor Yana, Sir Giles Estram, Professor Stream, Harold Saxon, The Abjudicator, the Other Doctor, the Portreeve, Victor Magister, and various others. The job title ‘The War Chief’ is a temporary job title which is only used while working with the War Lord. You don’t still identify yourself by the job you had during high school, do you? At least i hope you don’t.

          • Christian Cawley

            August 18, 2014 @ 10:24 am Christian Cawley


            I didn’t have a job at high school. Whatever that is.

            Whether you believe the Master is the War Chief or not, the fact remains that nowhere in Doctor Who’s 50 years on screen is it stated that they are one and the same. Therefore any argument that they are is spurious. You’re absolutely my guest to interpret them as such, there is no compelling argument.

          • August 18, 2014 @ 4:50 pm John Miller


            “Job you had during high school”. As in a part time job you did for money when you were a teenager. Oh, never mind.

            I also still find it amusing that when I attempted to vote for others, my votes simply disappear, whereas the only people only to vote are those who downvoted me, and gave up votes to comments criticising my posts. :-)

            And if you honestly can’t see anything that says that the Master is the War Chief, then this whole discussion is pointless, if ‘discussion’ it be deemed. In any case, the point was that Edward Brayshaw was someone who played more than one role on Doctor Who, and at the least he’s more important than one or two people listed here.

            I now eagerly await my post magically getting multiple downvotes. :-)

          • Christian Cawley

            August 18, 2014 @ 5:13 pm Christian Cawley


            “more important”?

            No one is more important than anyone else is a list, written subjectively, by a contributor who says it’s his list. Why don’t you make your own list and add it to your next comment, and explain why you’ve chosen those particular people.

            As for your downvotes, I honestly can’t say. Perhaps if you want to be populist, you should make populist comments? I think your comments are fine as they are.

            As for “job you had during high school”, I’m British, I have no idea what high school is in terms of the years it covers, so I’m stumped as to whether I had a job at that point. Ergo, “I don’t know” :)

          • August 18, 2014 @ 9:06 pm TonyS


            “the point was that Edward Brayshaw was someone who played more than one role on Doctor Who”.

            An excellent point. My reply could have been criticised as needlessly pedantic. Edward Brayshaw did indeed play two significant roles in Doctor Who. Had you made that point in the first place, John, I would have agreed with you. Instead you suggested that I would be better off watching children’s programmes (and defunct ones at that).

            There isn’t anything that says that the War Chief is the Master. Indeed, I am not sure the production team had even considered a regular nemesis for the Doctor at that point. Fan speculation has posited that they are the same character. It is not stated onscreen.

  4. August 17, 2014 @ 5:00 pm FrancoPabloDiablo


    Julian Glover?

    Reply

  5. August 17, 2014 @ 5:06 pm Alyssa


    Just want to point out that Pamela Salem was also one of the voices if Zoanon in “The Face of Evil”. ;)

    Reply

  6. August 17, 2014 @ 6:22 pm DonnaM


    The point is well made and the twelve chosen are an enjoyable cross section. Personally I found the “cousin” explanation for Freema’s two roles ever so slightly contrived; it just pointed out something that could quite easily have been ignored from my sitting room! I hope whatever Moffat comes up with this time – as he’s quite clearly not going to let sleeping Romans lie – doesn’t make me wince at every re-watch like that does :-)

    Reply

    • August 17, 2014 @ 8:11 pm FrancoPabloDiablo


      Exactly, I have never known two cousins to be identical. Does that even happen? If the had to go down the family route (which they did) would it not have made more sense to make them twin sisters?

      Reply

  7. August 17, 2014 @ 6:46 pm Joe Siegler


    The explanation for Caecilius / Frobisher / Twelve is something that RTD concocted when he was still the showrunner, and was brought forward by Moffat after conversation with RTD after Capaldi’s casting. That will be interesting.

    Reply

    • August 20, 2014 @ 7:18 am TonyS


      I think the answer may lie in the name Frobisher. Doctor 12 is in fact a Whifferdil!

      Reply


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