13 For 13: Recommendations For The Next Doctor

Whovians, it’s time to start stocking up on tissues. As confirmed this week by star Peter Capaldi, series ten of Doctor Who will be his last. Thanks to the very convenient regeneration mechanic, this simply means the mantle of the character will be passed on to another actor. It has become somewhat of a tradition to, in preparation for the waterworks, start fan-casting who might be the next Doctor. In the past couple of transitions, this has even helped shaped the Doctor Who canon and direction. With this in mind, I’ve teamed up with fellow TYF writer Katie Gill to come up with thirteen recommendations for the Thirteenth Doctor!*

*Yes, we are aware that technically the new Doctor will be the Fourteenth, but the late John Hurt’s Doctor is referred to in canon as The War Doctor and therefore does not add a number, no matter how dumb that sounds.  

Olivia Colman

I mean this is a given. Colman worked with new showrunner Chris Chibnall on Broadchurch, which happens to be ending in 2017 (what a coincidence, said no one ever). Both Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant worked with Russell T. Davies before they were offered the part of the Doctor so there’s precedent in that type of showrunner/actor Doctor Who working relationship. Aside from that, Colman’s a talented actress who has only dipped her toes into the sci-fi genre. If the Doctor regenerates as a woman, there’s going to be a new level of criticism no matter who’s cast–why not try and stave off some of that criticism by casting a talented veteran of British television – Katie Gill

Matthew Lewis

In fairness, someone of Lewis’ build is the absolute safest move that could be made. Though, there is still a case to be made. Lewis has had a fairly consistent filmography since the end of the Harry Potter films in British TV; most recently Ripper Street. He has also seen a huge resurgence in popularity via the “be careful who you call ‘ugly’ in high school” meme. That’s probably a huge factor in this choice, too. A major player in Doctor Who’s popularity in the US came as a direct result of the youth and energy of Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. There could be a chance to try to revitalize that alongside the Potter cred. – Travis Hymas

Eva Green


Eva Green’s also worked with Chibnall, though on the Starz series Camelot. She’s an amazingly talented actress, who can take any sort of genre and run wild with it. She can bring equal parts lightness and darkness to whatever character she’s given. Most importantly, she can imbue a level of seriousness to scenes that are utterly silly. The climax of season 2 of Penny Dreadful involved Green talking to a ventriloquist dummy of her character and she made it WORK. This is an actress who can easily sell whatever sort of dodgy effects the BBC throws at her. – Katie Gill

Richard Ayoade

Another heavily tossed around fan favorite, but for a good reason. While Ayoade isn’t exactly a household name in the states, he has been a staple in British TV since 1999. Now, he is far more a comedy actor than many Doctors past, but with an attempt in the last series to close the book on Steven Moffat’s larger plots and restore the Doctor’s personality to “cosmic hobo,” a more comedic touch would facilitate that. Ayoade is also a well-versed writer and director, meaning he could contribute even more to the narrative by getting behind the camera. – Travis Hymas

Patteson Joseph


Joseph was one of the names bandied around during the casting of the Eleventh Doctor–why not go ahead and cast him as the Thirteenth? He’s a talented actor who can bring warmth and humor to just about any part he’s offered. He’s already got time-travel experience with Timeless and helped sell strange new worlds on Nevewhere. The only problem is that Joseph is currently starring in the American series Timeless and might not want to swap shows. Still, that didn’t stop Capaldi from taking the role when he was starring in the series The Musketeers. – Katie Gill

Hayley Atwell

I shouldn’t even need to explain myself, this scene should do it. Atwell has a surprising amount of range and a hell of a stage presence. With her last ABC series, Conviction, in the cancellation bin, she’s got the availability and the desire to take the role. Like the other well recommended women on this list, the idea of handing over the role to a woman will have resistance from some fans. That shouldn’t be the case, but heading off that criticism with the overly qualified will be the best way to do so. – Travis Hymas

Next: 6-13


Bertie Carvel

I’m not gonna lie, you could easily replace this entry with “any member of the cast of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell,” I still can’t get over how amazingly cast and amazingly acted that series is.  Out of all of the actors though, Bertie Carvel is the one who I can see slipping into the role of the Doctor easiest. As Jonathan Strange, he flipped between mad eccentricity and heartbreaking sadness at a moment’s notice. Carvel’s a musical theater veteran but has only had a few main roles on British television. – Katie Gill

Ben Whishaw

My personal favorite for the job after Matt Smith announced his departure, it looks like Whishaw is the running favorite this time around. There’s another good reason for this: Whishaw is a force of nature both on screen and stage. He’s the kind of person capable of stealing the show from Daniel Craig in Skyfall and has even beaten out Leonardo DiCaprio for a role before (it was Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.) Whishaw is a bit more reclusive and steels himself in his craft, meaning he may not actually want to be enthralled to such a fandom as the Who fandom. Though, if he could look past that and take the role, it would mean Doctor Who would have its first openly gay lead, a milestone in itself. – Travis Hymas

Alexander Vlahos

Let’s be clear: I don’t think this is going to happen. Vlahos is an essential part of the Canal+ series Versailles, which has already been greenlit for a third season, and it’s a lot harder to write out historical figures than it is fictional characters. Still, his name’s been bandied about in various articles, Vlahos has mentioned he’d like to play the Doctor in various interviews and on social media, and he also fits the bill of ‘actor who’s amazing in what he’s been in, still nowhere close to being a household name.’ If the stars were to align and Vlahos was offered the role, I’m certain I’d appreciate his Doctor. I just don’t think it will happen. – Katie Gill

Naomie Harris

Another Skyfall/Spectre MVP, Harris has a far more diverse and impressive filmography, including a turn in 2016 smash hit and TYF favorite Moonlight. In fact, Harris hasn’t been on TV series in over a decade, which basically takes her out of the running right there. Yet, I couldn’t get the idea of the kind of performance made possible by the lack of limitations on a show like Doctor Who, and what someone of Naomie Harris’ calibur could do on it. Even if it were just for a single series, fans would surely never forget. – Travis Hymas

Mark Gatiss

Alright, I admit: I’d just want to see him do one episode just to see the blood boil of Whovians that have decried his and Moffat’s writing over the past several series. – Travis Hymas

Dev Patel

An actor of Gujarati Indian descent would be just as bold of a departure as would bringing in a woman or other actor of color (not that those also shouldn’t be options, obviously), and Patel has been wowing audiences since Slumdog Millionaire. However, even before that, he was cutting his teeth on British teen soap Skins, making him another talent starting from the telly. These days, Patel sticks to mostly film, but isn’t too far removed from his time on The Newsroom to consider jumping in the TARDIS, I’m sure. While he doesn’t show it, he’s also even younger than Matthew Lewis, so there’s that milestone too. – Travis Hymas

Dame Judi Dench

Okay, when you make a list this long, you have to give yourself a hail mary move. Chris Chibnall, you want to leave a permanent mark on Doctor Who? Great, listen up: convince Judi Dench to become the first female Doctor, and let fans dare decry her talent. Let her go hog-wild with the job and ham it up. Now, you won’t be able to do nearly as many running scenes, but this is a sci-fi show, I’m sure you can figure it out. Come on, tell me you don’t want to see Judi Dench give a Dalek the put down of an eternity. It’d probably just blow up right in front of her out of shame. Bonus points if you reveal that the Doctor “chose this face” because they’re a fan of As Days Go By. – Travis Hymas


What do you think? Is there someone we missed? Make your predictions in the comments below!


Doctor Who premieres April 15th on BBC America.  


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