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Doctor Who?: Dreamcasting the Twelfth Doctor

Rumors have been swirling for months, but this weekend it became official – Matt Smith’s tenure as the Eleventh Doctor will be ending during this year’s Christmas episode. His replacement has not yet been announced, so some of our lovely writers and editors had fun speculating about who it could be. The possibilities are endless!

White text on a blue background reads "Doctor Who."

Many people are rooting for the next Doctor to be a PoC. After all, there’s no reason that an alien has to look like a white dude all the time. The main issue as pointed out by Zahra is that a nonwhite Doctor would be treated very differently in some situations (look at what a rough time Martha had any time they went back in time on Earth). They could cop out and just avoid those situations, but some of the most fun episodes involve human history and it would be really conspicuous if they stopped visiting Earth altogether. If they do decide to go for a PoC actor, however, they have some absolutely fantastic options.

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  • Idris Elba has been one of the first names thrown out in virtually every conversation I’ve had about future Doctors (we’re a big fan of him here at Persephone). He’s no stranger to television, having starred in The Wire, the original UK version of The Office, and most recently, Luther. He’s also been the subject of idiotic controversy when he was cast as a god in Thor (and its upcoming sequel).
  • Another popular choice is Chiwetel Ejiofor. He’s incredibly versatile; anyone who can play Serenity‘s Operative and Kinky Boots‘s drag queen can certainly handle the Doctor’s range of emotions. (And while I’m not certain if she’ll play a role in upcoming seasons, can you even imagine his chemistry with River Song??)
  • I’m pretty sure every The IT Crowd fan I know is rooting for Richard Ayoade to play Twelve. I can definitely see it!
  • Several people have mentioned Paterson Joseph as a potential Doctor, but since he already appeared in two episodes (“Bad Wolf” and “The Parting of the Ways”), that could complicate matters. Of course, Freema Agyeman and Karen Gillan both played minor roles before being cast as Martha and Amy, so anything’s possible!
  • Mos Def is one of the more out-there suggestions I’ve heard. He’d be the first American Doctor, but say what you will about the film adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, he can definitely play alien!


Plenty of fans are also rooting for a lady Doctor. There’s no reason that Time Lords couldn’t occasionally swap genders when they regenerate; it’s never been done before but hell, they aren’t real so why can’t we change things up a bit and throw out the old “rules” if we want to? You really couldn’t go wrong with anyone on this list.

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  • Dame Helen Mirren can play pretty much anything she puts her mind to. She’s doing action roles well into her sixties, so I don’t think there’s any question that she could be a kick-ass Doctor. While she’s done several miniseries and has had plenty of guest roles on TV, she’s never been a series regular, so this would be a hell of a first outing for her.
  • Dame Judi Dench would also be a phenomenal Doctor. She’d bring gravitas to the role; Eleven was frequently described as a cat trying to pretend he meant to fall off the back of the sofa and that certainly wouldn’t be an issue with her, but she’d still have fun.
  • Tilda Swinton has been another fairly popular suggestion. She’d make an awesome Doctor!
  • So far as younger actresses go, several names have been floated who may not be terribly familiar to US audiences (but then, neither was Matt Smith). Ruth Wilson has gotten very enthusiastic support; she had roles in last year’s Anna Karenina, the upcoming The Lone Ranger, and she’s Idris Elba’s costar in Luther. Zawe Ashton has been in several TV series in the UK. Lara Pulver is probably the best-known suggestion even if many people don’t recognize her by name; she played Irene Adler in Sherlock and has had recurring roles on the BBC’s Robin Hood, MI-5, and True Blood.


Of course, there are plenty of options if the shows producers decide to stick with more traditional casting (which is probably the most likely scenario). While some fans would certainly be disappointed if they went the “safe” route, I don’t think you can deny that any of these actors would make fabulous Doctors.

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  • Ben Daniels is currently the frontrunner on Sky Bet (though some of his competition there is”¦ interesting). He has an impressive resume in the UK, though he recently did a stint on the Netflix-only series House of Cards. He’s also a few years older than the other New Who actors were when they were on the show; many fans have been concerned that the Doctor keeps getting younger.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch has been another popular choice. He’d be absolutely brilliant, though of all the big names who have floated, I think he’s probably one of the least likely options since he’s already connected to so many huge franchises. Still, it’s nice to dream!
  • Andrew Scott is another Sherlock alum who has been suggested to play Twelve. He’s fantastic as Moriarty, and I think that he would make a very interesting Doctor.
  • Richard Armitage would be a damned pretty Doctor and would likely appeal to many of the same fans who swoon for Ten. I’d hop in his TARDIS any day! I’m also a big fan of his Robin Hood costar Jonas Armstrong and would not be at all mad if he were chosen for Twelve.
  • James Callis can definitely play a man with dark secrets, though it’s uncertain if BSG fans will ever be able to see him as anyone but Gaius Baltar.
  • Rupert Grint may still be too young for the role (though at 24 he’s probably a lot older than most of us think he is!), but the Doctor has always wanted to be ginger. I’m pulling for him for a future regeneration, though. And hell, while we’re on the topic of Harry Potter kids, why not Matthew Lewis somewhere down the road?
  • David Mitchell would bring an interesting comedic element to The Doctor, which could be great depending on how the storylines go in upcoming seasons. He seems like a highly unlikely choice, however, given his previous statement that Doctor Who is “a children’s program; it’s not for me.”
  • Hugh Laurie wasn’t someone who immediately came to mind when I started thinking about potential Twelves, but now that a couple of my friends have planted the idea I’m kind of in love with it. Hopefully I don’t need to explain to any of you that he is, in fact, British, though he did a damned convincing American accent on House. He can handle comedy and drama equally well and would be absolutely brilliant as The Doctor.


Who would you like to see take over for Matt Smith in December?

By [E] Hillary

Hillary is a giant nerd and former Mathlete. She once read large swaths of "Why Evolution is True" and a geology book aloud to her infant daughter, in the hopes of a) instilling a love of science in her from a very young age and b) boring her to sleep. After escaping the wilds of Waco, Texas and spending the next decade in NYC, she currently lives in upstate New York, where she misses being able to get decent pizza and Chinese takeout delivered to her house. She lost on Jeopardy.

11 replies on “Doctor Who?: Dreamcasting the Twelfth Doctor”

I LIKE the PoC list! Mostly based off of their look, but that’s because my knowledge of the British is low unless it’s Doctor Who, HP, or…The IT Crowd which makes me all the more delighted you put Richard Ayoade because I think he would be brilliant with a sonic screwdriver. As for women, I know none of them, though I heard the suggestion that Emma Watson go in, and while I love her she still seems to young to me, and I also can’t see her in it.

I also love your norms list. Mm. And not a clue that Hugh Laurie was British, but then, I only watched an episode or two of House.

Ginger. I don’t care who plays the next Doctor, but I desperately want it to be a redhead. And that’s what the doctor wants too. I think it would be a great punch line to a long running joke. Could you imagine the doctor in the middle of a huge emergency, suddenly realizing he’s finally a ginger?! Brilliant comedy potential there.

I wil be too busy weeping bitter tears of desolation with my support group to worry about who gets cast as 28.5 or whatever they’re actually up to with the shenanigans. But really, as long as Clara goes away and we get more River Song, I will be a happy camper. Eleven doesn’t seem to be anybody’s favorite, but he is my first doctor and has colored all my experiences with the show. For the first time I have sympathy for the extreme Tennant supporters.

Chiwetel Ejiofor or Ruth Wilson would be cool, but honestly, as long as it’s someone who isn’t an awful actor and isn’t someone who is too well-known (that rules out most of these dreamcasting picks), I’ll probably be happy. But then, I don’t complain much about the show.

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