The stars who appeared in Doctor Who before they were famous

Carey Mulligan? Andrew Garfield? Felicity Jones? What show did these people have in common before they became huge international stars?

Karen Gillan in Doctor Who (BBC,HF)

Being a show that features a whole new supporting cast every week, Doctor Who is like a rite of passage for most actors – regardless of their experience.


Of course, what this means is that there are those young actors who once took a job on Doctor Who when they were relatively little known, but then went on to become huge stars in TV and film outside of the sci-fi show. There is even a fair chance that you totally missed them the first time around. So, here, as a memory jolt, are those actors who appeared in Doctor Who before they were really famous.

Carey Mulligan (Blink)

Right, let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first: Carey Mulligan, who popped up in her early acting years as Sally Sparrow in Blink, one of the most beloved episodes of all time. We’re sure you remember.

And after that…

Having frequented a lot of British period dramas, Mulligan suddenly became incredibly famous indeed after earning herself an Academy Award Best Actress nomination for An Education. From then, she has gone on to star in Drive, Inside Llewyn Davis, Never Let Me Go, Shame, and The Great Gatsby. Good job the Weeping Angels didn’t get her, eh? 

Colin Morgan (Midnight)

In series four’s dramatic horror story Midnight, a young Colin Morgan played Jethro, a rebellious emo-tastic teenager on board a ship invaded by a mysterious force.

And after that…

He starred in another big BBC fantasy drama, Merlin, which started slow but gradually built up a huge fan base. He then went on to feature in dark crime hit The Fall alongside Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson. Later this year you’ll be able to see him in Channel 4 show Humans.

Andrew Garfield (Daleks of Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks)

‘WHAT? When was Andrew Garfield in Doctor Who?’, you cry. But yes, he really was – as the earnest Tennessean Frank in series three two parter Daleks in Manhattan & Evolution of the Daleks. He even had an American accent and everything.

And after that… 

Oh, just a couple of things. After snagging a starring role alongside Jesse Eisenberg in the critically acclaimed The Social Network, Garfield crafted a very credible acting career, from his BAFTA winning performance in Boy A, to taking on a little superhero character called ‘Spiderman’ you may have absolutely definitely heard of.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Human Nature / The Family of Blood)

In the critically-loved two parter, Human Nature/Family of Blood, Thomas Brodie-Sangster played young Timothy Latimer, a student in the school where the Doctor’s human form, ‘John Smith’, taught. You may especially remember him as the kid who gives the famous, “He’s like fire and ice…” speech. 

And after that… 

Of course, previously known as, “The Kid from Love Actually”, Brodie-Sangster has done a lot of growing up since then, dominating two major franchises: his turn as Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones, and now The Maze Runner films. He also gets bonus points for voicing ‘Ferb’ from the cult Cartoon Network series ‘Phineus and Ferb’.

Harry Lloyd (Human Nature / The Family of Blood)

In Paul Cornell’s tragic two parter, Lloyd gives a the twisted turn as ‘Son of Mine’, a core member of the Family of Blood, who have no bodies, so must possess others to make their evil ends meet.

And after that… 

Lloyd’s devilish performance in Doctor Who has led on to a number of big-hitting British films, including appearances in The Iron Lady and The Theory of Everything. Game of Thrones fans, though, will know him as the sadistic Viserys Targaryen, and a particularly famous, head-melting scene we may never quite forget.

Felicity Jones (The Unicorn and the Wasp)

In The Unicorn and the Wasp, Jones was one of the suspects in Agatha Christie’s household after a mysterious murder…

And after that…

Well, if you’re following the current Oscar race, we’re sure you’ll have spotted her around, seeing as she’s up for a little ol’ accolade called Best Actress in this year’s ceremony for her role as Jane Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Jones has also had big roles in Like Crazy, The Amazing Spiderman 2, Chalet Girl and is being tipped to lead Star Wars’ first standalone film. So, all in all, she’s doing quite well.

Karen Gillan (The Fires of Pompeii)

Before you start: yes, we know that Karen Gillan is a bit of a cheat. But before she became the Eleventh Doctor’s companion as Amy Pond, she had also popped up in The Fires of Pompeii as a Soothsayer.

And after that…


OK, while it’s safe to say that Gillan became famous because of Doctor Who rather than after it, there’s no denying the leap to fame from her little role in The Fires of Pompeii to now. Before Who, Gillan had only really popped up a few sketches on The Kevin Bishop Show, but soon after, she was granted a ticket to the Marvel Universe, cast as Nebula in the 2014 smash hit ‘ Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as fronting her own US sitcom Selfie, for a short while too. Currently filming In a Valley of Violence, a star-studded Western alongside Ethan Hawke and John Travolta, it seems Amy Pond’s is doing well across the pond indeed.