Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Anti-List
From the moment a Doctor-actor says they’re leaving, everyone predicts their successor and the lists come out.
No-one knows who will be the Thirteenth Doctor beyond those who need to, but while the news and the internet is full of Kris Marshall and Danny Dyer, Tony dreamt up a list of potentially viable Thirteenth Doctors about whom no-one is talking and on whom absolutely no-one is suspending betting. See if any of them whet your appetites.
1. Helen Mirren
If you’re going to cast the first female Doctor, why not get one of the best. Mirren is one of the Dames of Britain’s stage, but has long familiarity with TV procedures having anchored Prime Suspect forever, and good recognition State-side too, having appeared in everything from The Queen to fantasy faff like National Treasure 2 and the RED movies. Can you just imagine the confrontations between Mirren’s Thirteenth Doctor and, say, Jemma Redgrave’s Kate Stewart, or Michelle Gomez’s Missy?
2. Toby Jones
From Dobby to the Dream Lord, and from Capote to Culverton Smith, Toby Jones is an actor who’s already done most things. He’s an utterly absorbing actor, who takes whatever role he’s given and produces choices with it that don’t let you look away. He absolutely has the recognition factor, the dramatic gravitas, and the comedic chops to deliver an unforgettable Doctor – the challenge would be for the writers to deliver him a characterisation that separated him from the Dream Lord, though allowing Jones’ characterisation instincts to the fore should take care of that. Besides, a previous Doctor’s embodiment of his own self-hatred having the body of a future incarnation: what would that say about the psychology of our Time Lord?
3. Eve Myles
Lazy choice, given the Torchwood connection? Mmmmmaybe, but let’s not discount Myles out of hand. Like the other actors here, she’s proved she can more than handle both drama, comedy, an intensive shooting schedule and reams of lines, anchoring a production. Myles plays no-nonsense types well. Give her a good coat and a sonic, and she could deliver a Doctor that more than kicks the Daleks out of town, while still having the emotional availability to make something interesting out of her Doctor. First female Doctor also the first Welsh incarnation? Well, that couldn’t hurt at all either.
4. Alexander Vlahos
Not that there was a ‘Welsh Doctor’ agenda in this list, but Vlahos is young, potentially hot for those who think that’s something the Doctor should be next, is already familiar with the world of Who through his frequent work with Big Finish, and has both anchored series, such as the audio Dorian Gray, and lit them up, such as Merlin and Versailles. For a younger, more quixotic, potentially broody Doctor with some serious acting chops (he’s about to deliver his Hamlet for audio too), Vlahos could be a highly attractive choice.
5. Simon Pegg
Let’s go off the wall for a moment. Pegg’s got the drama-comedy thing down pat, skewing more towards comedy in his career, but anchoring many of his best-loved roles in an everybloke realism too. While not typical leading man material, Pegg has more than a double dose of the quirky charm needed to nail the Doctor to the screen, and could perhaps bring a more by-the-seat-of-the-pants, devil-may-care sense of adventuring to the Tardis.
6. Pauline Quirke
I know, but there are probably reasons nobody’s talking about anybody on this list. Quirke has a long history of anchoring shows, both comedies and dramas, but watch her in Chris ‘incoming showrunner’ Chibnall’s Broadchurch if you’re in doubt about her ability to bring the darkness too. One of the more unconventional choices on the list, Quirke could give us an interpretation of the Doctor that would stand up to the serious acting chops of some of her predecessors, while bringing heaping handfuls of new dynamic of her own. Don’t believe us? Try hearing things like the Pandorica speech, or even the Capaldi tour de force from The Zygon Inversion, delivered in Quirke’s voice and intonations – you might not imagine it would work, but strangely enough, it does.
7. Jeremy Irons
They’d never go from one older male Doctor to another of course, but if they did, in the sad absence of Alan Rickman, imagine the Tardis piloted by Jeremy Irons. Whip-thin and with a proven history of playing dark, quixotic and ironically humorous characters, Irons could bring an ageing purr to the role, allied to a Tom Baker unpredictability that would set the role singing in a whole new key.
8. Keeley Hawes
The weird thing about Hawes’ inclusion on my list is that I’m not a particular fan of her work. But having been Peter Capaldi, the Doctor waking up post-regeneration as Keeley Hawes could be fascinating, and, while not having been a fan previously, I’m not fool enough to ignore the fact that given the material and on her day, Hawes has that combination of oomph and comedy potential you need as the Doctor, the combination of an ability to stand as the universe’s protector, and weep at its beauty as it passes, and laugh at the wonders and the silliness it throws into being at every turn. If you need a Doctor who’s never in doubt about their goodness, a ‘lighter’ Doctor after the darker edge of Capaldi, Hawes would be a great breath of fresh air.
9. Peter Serafinowicz
Peter Serafinowicz is another of those actors who can do anything you need of him, but he also has the edge to do…literally anything. Stick him in a dinner suit and he could practically be Bond. Give him a tube of styling gel and he could be punky and down with the kids, despite being in his forties. And let’s not even start on the versatility of that voice. Drama – yes. Comedy – by the bucketful. Anchor of his own show – done it. Familiarity with the geek-world: you’re talking about Darth Maul, the Fisher King and Garthan Saal from Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s no doubt Serafinowicz could be the Doctor, and could run off with it in a whole boatload of new directions. The only query would be whether he’d want to be so publicly associated with a single role over enough years to make his casting worthwhile.
10. Natalie Gumede
An outsider in the running, Gumede, while still young, has ticked off several of Britain’s hardcore TV jewels, most particularly Coronation Street, where she won Best Newcomer at the British Soap Awards just five years ago, and proved she could bring the drama. That balanced out early success in edgy comedy with her role as China in Ideal. Sure, there’s the whole Strictly Come Dancing thing, and increasing popularity on the daytime chat circuit, but Gumede is in danger of being overlooked, when clearly she can bring both sides of the Doctor’s nature to the screen when needed.
11. Michael Sheen
The omni-talented actor who previously voiced House in The Doctor’s Wife is our last bid for a Welsh Doctor. Roles as Tony Blair, Kenneth Williams and David Frost brought him to widespread attention, and he’s had more than a brush with the fantasy world with roles in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Twilight: New Moon and of course, Neil Gaiman’s first episode of Who. He’s built up some serious dramatic clout on stage as both an actor and director, he’s anchored his own successful show Stateside with Masters of Sex, he’s already got his Hamlet out of the way and he absolutely has that edge of unpredictability you need to be a great Doctor. He’s also not afraid to be a crusader in real life, and has some solid activism behind him, embodying the Doctor’s spirit and passion, and while he absolutely hasn’t ‘retired to focus on politics,’ perhaps a move home to Wales as Brexit begins to bite and Trumptopia begins to more and more resemble LaLaLand might suit him very well.
12. Katherine Kelly
Yes, yes, again with the spin-off casting. But let’s face facts here: if Miss Quill wasn’t a series-long audition for the role of the Doctor, we’re not sure what it was – and Kelly knocked it spectacularly out of the park. She did much the same as Lady Mae in Mr Selfridge, meaning you could never take your eyes off her, and in series like Happy Valley and The Night Manager, she always brought something extra-special to the screen. Another actor with serious theatrical power, Kelly could give us a first female Doctor with a lightness of touch, a strong vein of humour and the oomph to tell the universe’s bad guys where to go.
We’re not of course suggesting that any of these actors is even remotely in the running for the role of the Thirteenth Doctor, merely opening up our minds to names other than those being continually thrown at us in the media. Who would your ideal Thirteenth Doctor be?
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk