It’s only a matter of time before a new face steps out of that familiar blue box and we have our next Doctor Who. With Jodie Whittaker’s groundbreaking time on the show coming to a close, and the series celebrating its 60th birthday, this regeneration is probably the most important in the series since Christopher Eccleston brought the character back to our screens.
The show, like the character itself, is all about reinvention and as such, each new Doctor brings with them something personal and unique to the show. Part of the reason the debates over which version of the Time Lord reigns supreme is the personal, relatable feel that each actor has brought to the role, and fans identifying with that is the key to the show’s longevity.
As 2023 approaches fast, it won't be long until the 14th Doctor makes his or her debut at the helm of the TARDIS, but who should play the iconic role? We have a few ideas for which actors might just get a chance to wield their very own Sonic Screwdriver.
We've already looked at the Doctor Who Doctors, ranked worst to best, but now it's time to look to the future. So, let's begin the time-honored Whovian tradition of guessing who will next wield the epic sonic screwdriver as we look at seven actors who could take up the mantle of the next Doctor Who.
1. Hugh Grant
A favorite of the Doctor Who rumour-mill, Hugh Grant is an absolute A-list choice for the role. Not only does he have proven comedic ability in films such as the incredible Paddington 2, but he’s relatable, versatile and beloved. We’d love this to happen, but typically, Doctor Who hasn’t been a show for which A-list Hollywood talent has featured as part of the main cast. Doctor Who actors have went on to become stars of Marvel and other huge franchises, but when they star on the show, they’re typically just starting their career.
Would the prospect of leading the line for the 60th anniversary of the franchise convince Hugh Grant to spend months in a studio in Wales? We’ll have to see, but as one of the bookies' favorites, it does make us wonder if the BBC are throwing a lot more money behind this impressive milestone of a series.
2. Michaela Coel
Michaela Coel first leaped into the public consciousness on the E4 sitcom Chewing Gum, but it’s her role as creator, writer, director, star and basically everything else for the incredible I May Destroy You that shot her into superstardom.
Her time on Chewing Gum proved just how funny she can be, which is a key trait for a Russel T Davis doctor, and I May Destroy You is such an impressive piece of work that the prospect of Michaela taking the reigns as the doctor is incredibly exciting. If the 60th anniversary of the show is to set the tone for the future of the franchise, a pick like Michaela is perfect, not only as a statement against the idea that Jodie Whittaker was a one-and-done and we’re going back to older English men, but because the show is in desperate need of attracting a contemporary audience, and a pick like Michaela Cole would do just that.
3. Olly Alexander
Let’s start with an easy one. The bookies favorite and star of Russell T. Davies’ incredible drama, It’s a Sin, many people already have Olly Alexander down as the next Doctor. While he’d be the second youngest Doctor ever, a sprightly 31 years old to Matt Smith’s 26, Olly Alexander has proved time and again that he has the acting chops and the comedic influence to make his Doctor a fan favorite.
Alexander would also be the first LGBTQ+ lead. This is a strong stride forward for a show that, despite being inclusive from a thematic point-of-view for years, took until Jodie Whittaker’s arrival to give the role to someone who wasn’t a man.
Performing under the stage name Years & Years, Alexander is also an accomplished musician and recently played with Elton John at the 2021 BRIT Awards. While the Doctor is always kind, caring, and a hero, he’s very rarely cool, which is something that Alexander could absolutely bring to the role. Plus, Alexander could potentially bring a new audience to a show that has seemed like an establishment for so long.
4. Zawe Ashton
Another long time pick for the Doctor, simply googling Zawe Ashton will return the suggested result “Zawe Ashton Doctor Who.” The actress from Hackney in London made her name in theater, going on to star in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, as well as a host of other shows. U.K. TV fans will recognize her for her hilarious turn as Vod in the anarchic Channel 4 comedy, Fresh Meat. Ashton’s combination of biting sarcasm and genuine care for her friends made her a favorite amongst fans, and shot her to the top of the new Doctor Who candidate list – this may be her time to shine!
Ashton would bring a new dimension to the Doctor, a potential mix of Christopher Eccleston’s serious, war-hardened Doctor and Peter Capaldi’s sarcastic charm. While she’s already appeared in an episode of Doctor Who, playing the character Journey Blue, this has never stopped an actor playing the titular role. Famously, both Karen Gillan and Peter Capaldi appeared in the Doctor Who episode Fires of Pompei, before later appearing in the show in starring roles.
5. Ralph Fiennes
Now, it’s certainly not easy to go from one beloved British institution to another, but of all the great actors that made an appearance in the Harry Potter franchise, we think the Dark Lord himself would make the most interesting Doctor.
Ralph Fiennes’ acting ability is unquestioned, and his ability to riff off younger companions could make for some excellent character moments. Each new actor brings something unique to Doctor Who, but the older actors that have portrayed the role are able to tap into a part of the Doctor’s humanity that younger actors can’t. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor was an incredible example of this, with the strongest episodes in his series being full of deep introspection about the history of the Doctor.
Fiennes would be able to add pathos and depth to these scenes, and also deliver the intensity that the Doctor needs when facing his greatest foes. It may not be the funniest ever series of the show, but it would probably be the most rich with character development.
6. Daniel Kaluuya
Daniel Kaluuya is another actor who has made an appearance in the Doctor Who series, alongside David Tennant in the Planet of the Dead Easter Special. However, since then he’s gone on to have an incredible career, and is quickly becoming one of the most desired actors in Hollywood. For this reason, he may not be able to commit to the shooting schedule that would see him relocate to Cardiff for months, but he would be an incredible pick.
First coming to mainstream attention in the Black Mirror episode Fifteen Million Merits, Kaluuya would shoot to fame in the seminal horror film Get Out. His acting is incredibly subtle and believable, and he’d bring a background in sci-fi horror that works so well with Doctor Who. Kaluuya is currently filming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but once wrapped, we’re hoping to see him step through the doors of the iconic police box and bring something completely new to the table… or TARDIS controls… the bit in the middle with the lights and spinny bits.
7. Chiwetel Ejiofor
Our final pick is an actor who was actually previously offered the role of the Doctor before, according to reports. Chiwetel Ejiofor was seemingly extended the starring part when showrunner Steven Moffat took over the show. While Ejiofor eventually turned the role down after being unable to agree to terms, we’d love to see him come back for another chance.
Making his acting debut at 19 in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, Ejiofor has had a long and prosperous career. His biggest role came in 12 Years a Slave, a role which he was nominated for an Academy Award and won a BAFTA for. Ejiofor also appeared in Marvel’s Doctor Strange and the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as Karl Mondo.
He’s an imposing screen presence and an actor that’s clearly fit for the role, considering he’s already been offered it once. His extensive theatre history would also lend to a deep, considered performance as the Doctor that could set him apart from his predecessors. Jodie Whittaker and Chiwetel Ejiofor are both incredible actors, but for completely different reasons. So, seeing the transition from one to the other, especially in the early episodes of the series when the Doctor is getting used to their new body, would be a real treat.