After months of rumours, it’s official – Jodie Whittaker is leaving Doctor Who behind, with the Thirteenth Doctor set to depart in 2022 after a six-episode series 13 and a trio of specials along with series showrunner Chris Chibnall.
With Whittaker’s departure confirmed, fans’ minds are naturally turning to what’s next – namely, which actor could succeed her in the face-changing, time-travelling role as the Doctor, becoming the new lead of the series and following in the footsteps of actors like William Hartnell, Tom Baker and David Tennant.
At the moment there’s not much to go on, and the BBC have only said the decision will be revealed “in due course” – but based on a few of the names swirling about, our own theories about how the next Doctor would be chosen and recommendations from RadioTimes.com staff, here are a few of our picks for the Fourteenth Doctor.
Spoiler alert: we are almost certainly wrong. But if we’re right, well, you heard (or read) it here first.
Of course, Jo Martin already plays a past version of the Doctor – but given how popular she was during her initial appearances in 2020, we think most fans would be open to a little bit of timeline jiggery-pokery that allows her to succeed Jodie Whittaker.
Will it actually happen? Almost certainly not – though hopefully we’ll see more of the “Fugitive” Doctor no matter who next takes over the TARDIS.
An early favourite to be Whittaker’s successor, Alexander later denied the reports through his management, who noted that he was too busy with his musical career. But who knows? After his acclaimed turn on Channel 4’s It’s A Sin (where he actually battled the Daleks as a fictional 1980s actor, and worked with former Who showrunner Russell T Davies), he’s definitely got the goods to make an impressive Time Lord, and the denials could have been a smokescreen.
Years & Years star Miller has actually played a Time Lord in Doctor Who before, starring as a new incarnation of “The General” in 2015’s Hell Bent – but that doesn’t mean she still couldn’t play the Doctor herself.
After all, Doctors have played other roles in the Whoniverse before – Peter Capaldi played two, in fact – and Miller is already a popular choice with fans.
The I May Destroy You creator and star is often top of the bookies’ lists to be Jodie Whittaker’s successor, and roles in Star Wars and Black Mirror definitely prove she’s got the sci-fi chops.
Still, it’s hard to imagine Coel giving up the creative freedom of writing to perform someone else’s scripts for 10 months a year. Somehow, this feels like a pipe dream.
West has made a splash playing the heroic Jill in It’s A Sin, and in her short career has notably already worked with two former Doctor Who showrunners (Russell T Davies for Years and Years and It’s A Sin, and Steven Moffat for Dracula). Maybe Chris Chibnall could make the triple!
Still, we can’t help but feel that West is still early in her career to be taking on the role of the Doctor – though we wouldn’t be averse to seeing her join the TARDIS team some time soon.
That said, there’s no reason the Doctor Who production team wouldn’t go down the Matt Smith route and cast a relative unknown as the Doctor.
With that in mind, another It’s A Sin star springs to mind – Seyan Sarvan, who made a big impression in a small role during the AIDS crisis drama as lawyer Lizbeth Farooqi. It’s unlikely, but who knows? Sometimes it’s worth looking off the beaten track for Time Lords.
A popular fan-casting, Crystal Maze host Ayoade has hovered in the bookies’ odds for a while – but given his lack of dramatic acting (usually starring in comedies, directing or doing presenting work) it seems unlikely he’d be keen on playing the Doctor.
Aka the Sexy Bridgerton Duke, Page’s success in the Netflix historical drama has had him linked with every major franchise role going from James Bond to Black Panther – but maybe he’d rather play a new version of the Doctor instead.
Is he a little too good-looking and suave? Well, maybe – and there’s a question whether he might already be moving to bigger things in Hollywood on top of his Bridgerton commitments – but we know he definitely fits in with certain historical time periods already.
Previously, we’ve suggested that the ideal actor to play the Doctor would be someone relatively experienced but without one signature role that has made them a household name – and it’s clear that Wilson (who has often focused on stage work but has a lot of screen roles) fits that bill.
With credits including Richard Curtis films (About Time), historical dramas (Ripper Street, All is True), sci-fi (Black Mirror, Misfits, Star Trek: Beyond) and British drama (Requiem, Flack) her career has covered all the bases needed to play the Doctor. She’s a dark horse, but definitely exists in the sort of sphere we’d expect the next Doctor to be in.
Dudley Dursley as the Doctor? It might sound strange, but Melling has continued to deliver interesting character work in his roles since leaving the Harry Potter franchise behind including The Old Guard, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The Devil all the Time, The Queen’s Gambit and a new version of Macbeth.
Plus, Melling has an intriguing connection to the series – he’s the grandson of Second Doctor Patrick Troughton. Clearly, Melling would be well aware of the demands of the role…
Alfred “Alfie” Enoch
And if we are going down the family route, what about the son of one of Doctor Who’s original companions? Yes, believe it or not Alfie Enoch – well known for playing Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter series and Wes in How to Get Away With Murder – is the son of William Russell, aka Ian Chesterton himself, giving him an unusual connection to Doctor Who.
Booking roles in TV series like Troy: Fall of a City, Sherlock, Foundation and Broadchurch (where he would have worked with showrunner Chris Chibnall), Enoch also has another notable qualification for the role of the Doctor – he’s already replaced Jodie Whittaker in a starring role before, specifically in medical thriller Trust Me. Stranger things have happened.
Sharpe has been on the edges of major TV stardom for a few years now, appearing in shows like Sherlock, W1A, Dirk Gently, Flowers, legal drama Defending the Guilty and Sirens among others – but it was his BAFTA-winning turn in Giri/Haji that really started to get him noticed.
With no second series planned for Giri/Haji, it could be that Sharpe has some free time, so who knows? Maybe he’d be a good fit for the Doctor…
Our own regular Doctor Who reviewer has tipped Sex Education’s Asa Butterfield as a good next Doctor – but could Butterfield actually land the role? He certainly has some BBC family drama experience – in his younger years he played Mordred in Merlin – and has racked up plenty of sci-fi and fantasy credits as well (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ender’s Game).
The downside? At 23, he just feels a little young to play the Doctor (lest we forget, the youngest ever, Matt Smith, was 26 when he got the role), and it seems unlikely that he’s done with the world of Sex Education just yet.
And many more…
Honestly, this list could go on and on. From RadioTimes.com staff alone we’ve also had the likes of Zawe Ashton, Joel Fry, Ruth Negga, Abubakar Salim, Dev Patel, Rahul Kholi, Nicola Walker and Kirby Howell-Baptiste recommended as potential successors to Jodie Whittaker, while bookies’ odds maintain a position for other stars like Kris Marshall, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, David Harewood and Vicky McClure.
Past a certain point, you’re just running through an endless list of names – which is probably a good thing. At this point in time, it genuinely does feel like anyone could be the next Doctor, and a great deal of credit for that has to be Whittaker’s own groundbreaking casting.
All we can be sure about for the next Doctor is that they probably won’t be anything like the Thirteenth incarnation – but when they take over, it’ll feel like they were there all along. Fingers crossed we don’t have to wait too long to meet them anyway.
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