Doctor Who writer Neil Gaiman: a black actor has already turned down the role of the Doctor

The author has branded the failure to cast a non-white star as the Time Lord "a missed opportunity" and revealed Peep Show star Paterson Joseph as his personal choice

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Doctor Who writer Neil Gaiman: a black actor has already turned down the role of the Doctor
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Paul Jones

Prior to the announcement of Peter Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor on Sunday, speculation had been predictably rife as to who Matt Smith’s replacement might be. Among the gossip – not for the first time – was the suggestion that we might be about to see the first ever black Doctor, with Homeland’s David Harewood and Luther’s Idris Elba both in the frame according to the bookies.

And while it didn’t happen this time, Doctor Who writer Neil Gaiman says a black actor has already been approached to play the Doctor – but declined the role.

“I know one black actor who was already offered the part of the Doctor, and who turned it down,” said Gaiman, writing on his blog.

Pushed by a fan to reveal the name of the star, Gaiman added “You can ask, but seeing that it was something I was told in confidence by the actor in question, you won’t get an answer.”

The Neverwhere author – who also penned Doctor Who episodes The Doctor’s Wife and Nightmare in Silver – said he had been keen to see Peep Show star Paterson Joseph land the role when the Time Lord was being cast last time around.

“I was disappointed that it didn’t happen this time,” said Gaiman. “There are some amazing [non-white] actors out there. I was rather disappointed that Paterson Joseph didn’t get it last time, although I’ve loved Matt’s Eleven.

"Would I like a person of colour as the Doctor? Absolutely. Paterson Joseph (sic) was the Marquis de Carabas in [an adaptation of] Neverwhere, because he aced the auditions, and beat all the other actors, mostly white, who tried out for the role. I’d want that kind of performance at the audition for the Doctor."

Gaiman branded the failure to cast a black Doctor "a missed opportunity" but said he was excited by the announcement of Peter Capaldi.

"There are certainly [non-white] actors good enough out there that it feels like a missed opportunity. Does that mean I’m disappointed by Peter? No, just excited to see what kind of Doctor he makes. He’s an Academy-Award winning director, an amazing actor and I really liked him when I worked with him before."

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