After several rounds of reassurances that Matt Smith would be in the next series of DOCTOR WHO following the Fiftieth Anniversary special in November, the BBC confirmed Smith would not be returning in the role for the eighth series of the show in 2014. (The full press release from the BBC is here, just so you know this isn’t fan wankery.)
If anything could overshadow whatever script hijinks are in store for the Special, with John Hurt, David Tennant and Billie Piper along for the ride, the attention now turns to the inevitable regeneration that will occur at the end of the episode… and who will play the Twelfth Doctor next season.
That’s the genius of DOCTOR WHO, and the reason it’s been a relevant science fiction icon for fifty years: when it’s time to change out the lead actor of the show, there’s no Dick York / Dick Sargent kerfuffery. The Doctor regenerates as a self-defense mechanism, and he has a new face, new personality, but it’s still the same Time Lord.
With the show at such a crossroads, I feel it’s time for showrunner Steven Moffat to go bold with his choice for the next Doctor. (It’s also an opportunity to shut up the scholarly wingnuts who recently claimed the show was “thunderously racist,” one of the most ridiculous statements in academia.) Here, because no one asked me except Mark Walters, are five choices for the next Doctor. (And, please: feel free to either submit your pick or decry mine in the comments below.)Chiwetel Ejiofor: With a built-in science fiction fanbase from his work in Joss Whedon’s SERENITY and Alfonso Cuarón’s CHILDREN OF MEN, Ejiofor would be an amazing fit for the Doctor. He has outstanding range as an actor, infinitely charismatic, and a native British son who has professed his love of DOCTOR WHO from an early age.
Rhona Mitra: Nothing says the Doctor has to be British, or male. Setting Mitra up as the Doctor not only allows the series to turn the whole dynamic of Time Lord and Companion on its head, it sets casual fanboys who might not have given the series a second look all a-flutter. Mitra’s sci-fi chops are also there, with the lead in DOOMSDAY as well as stints on STARGATE UNIVERSE and the upcoming Michael Bay-produced LAST SHIP.
David Morrissey: Technically, Morrissey has already played the Doctor, albeit an ersatz version in one of David Tennant’s final WHO specials. He’s made his desire to be further involved with the series quite plain, and would represent a return to an older Doctor in the vein of Tom Baker or Peter Davidson. (His work on THE WALKING DEAD might be a hinderance to his availability, but things like this can always be worked out if the BBC came calling.)
Andrew Scott: Amazing actor who has two strong bullet points in his favor. Steven Moffat’s Sherlock Holmes was only supposed to meet up with his Moriarty in one installment of the BBC series; Scott’s portrayal was so strong, Moffat rewrote the arc to feature more screen time for the two to spar. Also, show me anyone who can steal scenes from Benedict Cumberbatch on a consistent basis. Give the man a sonic screwdriver and watch him work.
Damian Lewis: Credit my lovely wife for this one, and it makes sense for several awesome reasons. He’s British, and the right age. Has no problem with heavy roles – if you haven’t been watching HOMELAND, get off your computer and fire up Netflix now. Charismatic as all get out. Finally, he fulfills the one wish the Doctor has had for the last two regenerations: he’d finally be a Ginger.
Okay, what’s your take? You like any of these choices? What’s your dream Doctor pick? Sound off in the comments below.