Russell T Davies confirms he tried to get Hugh Grant to star in Doctor Who

The writer and actor are teaming up for new BBC drama A Very English Scandal, but the pair could have worked together on a very different TV project

Hugh Grant in A Very English Scandal

Former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies and actor Hugh Grant have teamed up for new period drama A Very English Scandal, marking the first time that they’ve collaborated on screen – but if things had gone differently, they could have worked together over 13 years ago.

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Screenwriter Davies has confirmed an old story that Grant was originally in line to star in 2005’s Doctor Who revival, with the Four Weddings and a Funeral star rumoured as an early choice for the Time Lord before the role eventually went to Christopher Eccleston instead.

“I have always wanted to work with Hugh Grant. Always,” Davies said according to the i.

“I literally offered him Doctor Who in 2004. I told him that and he was like, ‘Really?!’ He knew nothing about that. I love him. I think he’s one of Britain’s finest actors.”

Grant may have just forgotten about the offer, however, as he did respond to the story in 2007 when reflecting on whether he should have gone for the job after all…

“I was offered the role of the Doctor a few years back and was highly flattered,” he reflected at the time.

“It’s only when you see it on screen that you think, ‘Damn, that was good, why did I say no?'”

Still, Grant does still have a bit of Who pedigree – he was one of the incarnations of the Doctor in 1999 Comic Relief sketch The Curse of Fatal Death.

In the end a Russell T Davies script did tempt him to his first major TV role: Grant will play politician-turned-murder suspect Jeremy Thorpe in BBC drama A Very English Scandal.

“I honestly think he is one of our finest actors and I can’t wait for people to see this,” Davies said. “I think he gives an immeasurable performance.”

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Doctor Who returns to BBC1 later this year, and A Very English Scandal airs on the same channel later this month