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Doctor Who: Who will play the next Doctor?

The new Doctor has finally been revealed.

Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who: Legend of the Sea Devils
BBC
Published: Sunday, 8th May 2022 at 1:10 pm

Following Jodie Whittaker's upcoming departure from the TARDIS, we now know the identity of the new lead in Doctor Who.

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Ncuti Gatwa will play the 14th Doctor in the upcoming series from the mind of Russell T Davies.

Speaking of his new role, Ncuti Gatwa said: “There aren’t quite the words to describe how I’m feeling. A mix of deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared. This role and show means so much to so many around the world, including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled that unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care. I will endeavour my upmost to do the same.

"Russell T Davies is almost as iconic as the Doctor himself and being able to work with him is a dream come true. His writing is dynamic, exciting, incredibly intelligent and fizzing with danger. An actor’s metaphorical playground. The entire team have been so welcoming and truly give their hearts to the show. And so as much as it’s daunting, I’m aware I’m joining a really supportive family. Unlike the Doctor, I may only have one heart but I am giving it all to this show."

But who was rumoured before his announcement? Read on for a list of talented actors and actresses who were previously mentioned.

T’Nia Miller

T'Nia Miller

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, many of whom began to wonder whether she was in the frame after Davies was announced as the next showrunner.

After all, the pair have worked together before (the aforementioned Years & Years) and new Doctors are often actors the showrunners have worked with in previous projects.

Though with that in mind, there are other candidates that also fit this mould.

Olly Alexander

Olly Alexander
Dave J Hogan / Getty Images

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 this year (where he actually battled the Daleks as a fictional 1980s actor), he's definitely got the goods to make an impressive Time Lord, and the denials could have been a smokescreen.

And with Davies confirmed as the next showrunner, this possibility looks more likely. The previous Doctors he cast – Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant – had both played the leads in dramas Davies released shortly before he began on the show (The Second Coming and Casanova respectively), so there's scope for Alexander to follow that trend.

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However, in November 2021, Alexander hit back against those suggesting he would be stepping into the TARDIS, insisting that he is focusing on his music career for the time being.

"I was so flattered and inspired by that but I’m definitely not the next Doctor Who," he told Metro. "It’s an amazing show and I was quite flattered that people thought I might be able to do it."

We could be looking at the wrong It's A Sin star (more on that note further down this page).

Jo Martin

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.

Lydia West

Lydia West in Years and Years

West made a splash playing the heroic Jill in It’s A Sin earlier this year, and in her short career has notably already worked with two Doctor Who showrunners (Russell T Davies for Years and Years and It’s A Sin, and Steven Moffat for Dracula).

Of course, it's the work with Davies that has people wondering if she's in the frame at the moment – though we can’t help but feel that West is still early in her career to be taking on the role of the Doctor. That said, we wouldn’t be averse to seeing her join the TARDIS team some time soon.

West herself addressed the rumours in a recent interview with RadioTimes.com, saying: "I mean the fact I’ve been named as one of the favourites is quite special. So I mean, it would be an honour to be the Doctor. I’m glad people think I could do it!"

Seyan Sarvan

It's a Sin

Continuing to rifle through RTD's little black book, 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.

Michaela Coel

I May Destroy You

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.

Richard Ayoade

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.

Regé-Jean Page

Bridgerton Simon and Daphne

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.

Lydia Wilson

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.

Harry Melling

Harry Melling stars in The Old Guard on Netflix

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.

Will Sharpe

Will Sharpe plays Rodney in Giri Haji
BBC

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…

Asa Butterfield

Sex Education - Otis
Netflix

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 he’s not done with the world of Sex Education just yet.

And many more…

Doctor Who

Honestly, this list could go on and on. From RadioTimes.com staff suggestions 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 – surely Mr Davies has a few ideas already...

Doctor Who will return to BBC One and BBC iPlayer later this year. All 13 series of Doctor Who are available to watch now on Prime Video – sign up for a Prime Video free trial.

For more news, interviews and features, check out our dedicated Sci-Fi page or our full TV Guide.

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