The role of the Doctor in Doctor Who remains one of the most iconic parts in television – after 60 years, only a relatively small number of actors have been cast as the character, while other hopefuls missed out.


One auditionee who fell into the latter camp was Hugh Futcher. Best known for his appearances in the Carry On films, Futcher was up for the role of the Seventh Doctor, which eventually went to Sylvester McCoy.

He had previously appeared in Doctor Who 15 years earlier, playing an ill-fated maintenance workman named Hickman in 1972 serial The Sea Devils.

Speaking at a BFI screening of that story to promote the Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 9 Blu-Ray set, Futcher recalled his second brush with the series in the late 1980s.

"I was – along with four other actors – considered to be the next Doctor Who," he said. "I can't remember the name of the producer – [they] came to see me in a play that I was doing at the time…"

Though Futcher was unable to recall the producer's name, it's probable he was remembering an encounter with John Nathan-Turner, who served as Doctor Who producer from 1980 until the show went off air in 1989.

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"He came to see me – and all of a sudden, as well as discussing the production, he then took this [scarf] off. Without any warning whatsoever – because I knew this had been discussed, as to the Doctor and the scarf and everything – he placed it around my neck... and then, sadly, added the words" 'I'm sorry, Hugh, it didn’t go your way.'"

Futcher joked: "I hope Sylvester’s well this morning!"

Doctor Who – season 24 (Sylvester McCoy)
Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor in Doctor Who. BBC

Asked if missing out on the role of the Doctor had been a "terrible disappointment", he admitted: "Yes, it was. It's just, again, one of those things that... I'm very fortunate, very lucky that I've had a career spanning 70 years, but I think more than anything else, it just proved to me something like that is life changing.

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"A chum of mine... he walked out of a door in Star Wars. He travels the world [because of it]!"

Doctor Who will return to BBC One in the UK and Disney Plus internationally for a trilogy of 60th anniversary specials which will see David Tennant return to play the lead role.

Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa will then take up the mantle of the Doctor from Christmas 2023.

Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 9 Blu-Ray box set is available to pre-order now from Amazon.

Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer with episodes of the classic series also available on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here. New Doctor Who episodes will stream on Disney Plus in the US. Sign up to Disney Plus now for £79.90 for a year or £7.99 a month.

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