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Who Will Be the Next Doctor?


Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who, but before his body is even cold (or warm? are regenerations warm?) everyone seems to have an opinion about who should take over the role of the Doctor. Idris Elba! Helen Mirren! John Hurt! There has been a lot of focus on the identity of the actor involved. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be very, very excited to see a non-white actor or a woman assume the role. But, more than anything, I want the show to be good. And “good” on Doctor Who is a moving target.

These last few years with Smith have felt like an ongoing dark fairy tale: His Doctor was the man who breezed into town and caused trouble even as he’s trying to prevent it. Smith is a trickster, and like most tricksters, he’s smarter than he looks. He’s like the Cat in the Hat, but with a TARDIS. His portrayal of the Doctor has changed the show, and led to some interesting twists and turns. So where will the next Doctor take us?


Older and wiser
After the 50th-anniversary special, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the Doctor reverted back to an older, wiser character. After all, Smith was initially criticized as too young for the role (at 27 years old, he was the youngest actor ever cast). The key would be to keep the youthful spirit of the Doctor, even in the shell of an older person. There’s been a lot of talk about John Hurt or Helen Mirren, but a more reasonable pick would be Jared Harris (whom most of us know from Mad Men and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows). He’s weathered, but not worn out, and time and again on Mad Men his character’s quiet, misunderstood sense of humor added an extra twinkle to the show.


More action-packed
I hope that showrunner Steven Moffat continues to keep Doctor Who mostly about running rather than turning around and fighting. But, if the series gets amped up in terms of action sequences, that’s where a guy like Idris Elba (also put forward for the role of James Bond) would come in. Laura Pulver is in this category as well. Physicality is certainly part of the role, but it’s hard to imagine a traditionally sexy person playing the Doctor. However ….


More romantic
There have been a lot of romantic storylines kicking around during the Matt Smith era. Rory and Amy, the Doctor and River, ever so briefly we had the Doctor and Amy. If we continue with these romantic storylines, it might make sense to hire an actor like Joseph Fiennes, who just came off of a run on American Horror Story: Asylum, and has been quietly transforming himself into odd roles since his glory days as William Shakespeare.


More of the same
I’ve loved the Matt Smith era. I love the mysteries surrounding his companions. I love the strange, wild places we’ve visited. I love the dark fairy tales and the supernatural horrors. There is one person I’d like to see continue those themes: Kelly MacDonald. She most recently voiced Merida in Brave, but she’s been on my radar since she played Peter Pan in Finding Neverland. Certainly, a female Doctor would be a big change. But MacDonald could project the same kind of wonder at the universe that Smith has brought to the role. Also, in a post-Karen Gillan world, we need more Scottish accents on this show.

Matt Smith will remain in the role of the Eleventh Doctor until after this year’s Christmas special. Until then, we can only wait and wonder.


  • Matt Smith

    Moffat specifically said gender change is NOT a part of regeneration. Maybe you should fact check before you spew your personal opinions and try to pass them off as fact.

  • ScarlettMi

    The Internet must be a confusing place if you can’t differentiate from a wish list and obvious opinion piece and an article purporting to be providing you with factual information. She says “I would like” and “wait and wonder”. Perhaps calm down and read a little before becoming so hostile next time. Make a few suggestions of your own. Have a little fun.

  • Lyle

    I’ve been enjoying Doctor Who since Tom Baker, and the thing I always liked about the regenerations is that the next Doctor is always significantly different from the last Doctor. I know a lot of people were upset that Peter Davidson was not the wild and crazy guy that Tom Baker was but was a much more laid back Doctor, but that is why I liked him, because he did not feel he had to repeat what Tom Baker did. Just with the recent Doctors, I like to think of David Tennant as the cool Doctor, who always dressed well and had a cool comeback and who all the women wanted to be with, and Matt Smith as the nerd Doctor, who acted, talked, and dressed in ways that baffled everyone and who stuck to his guns at believing that ‘bow ties are cool’, even though everyone else frustratedly told him differently.
    I guess I’m just hoping that the next Doctor be something slightly different, and here were my ridiculous ideas:
    1) Hugh Laurie- Let him act like his House persona and be the belligerent jerk who cares about the universe. It would be throwback to the Colin Baker doctor.
    2) Peter Dinkage- He always comes off as a commanding presence in everything he does, compared to his stature, and it would be interesting having that presence be the Doctor.
    3)Rupert Grint- Just because the Doctor always wanted to be a ginger, well, here is his chance. In a way, I could see him being too similar to Matt Smith in personality, but I could see the difference being that, where Matt Smith acted nuts and out of control while actually having everything under control, I could see Rupert Grint playing it as someone who actually is nuts and out of control and always just barely coming up with a solution.

  • bewarethespaceman

    They’re all well to well known I’d say. The source who leaked Matt Smith’s departure early to Starburst mag has leaked these three names as the shortlist: Domnhall Gleeson, Daniel Kaluuya, and Dominic Cooper. I think of the three Gleeson has a bit of a Doctor look about him. Time Lords do indeed have established and therefore fixed genders but they can be of any race. Or technically species but they always go for human looking…

  • ScarlettMi

    I think Chiwetel Ejiofor would make a great Doctor. I’ve seen his name bandied about a few places as a possible suggestion. I think he could play both the silly & the serious very well. Two things you definitely need in the Doctor.

  • TomFoss

    That’s pretty funny, given that the Gaiman episode that explicitly stated the opposite came out under Moffat’s watch. It’s almost like the rules are made up as they go along and can be violated at any time.

  • Spacedog2k5

    I have to agree with Lyle, and a number of other “voices” who have spoken out on other websites, that Hugh Laurie would be a good choice for the next Doctor. He really made ‘House’ the show it was. Sure, I was semi-interested in the patients he took on, but really, it was his unique personality, and his less-than-normal approach to medicine that worked. I’ve seen him in other programs/movies, and I think he’d be the ideal choice for the next Doctor.

  • ScarlettMi

    They don’t necessarily have established genders. They appear to trend towards one gender but Eleven wondered if he may have regenerated into a woman and then Neil Gaiman intentionally included a canon reference to a time lord doing that in The Doctor’s Wife.

    Gaiman interview: • The long-standing fan argument (and joke) about whether timelords can change gender on regeneration seems to be now definitively settled. Was there any disagreement or debate about that? Does it foreshadowing the appearance of a female timelord? Who would you ideal female timelord be? @duncangeorge @hastydave
    “The odd bit here is that for me it had been definitively settled when Doctor Eleven tried to figure out whether or not he was a girl.
    But it seemed to make sense, and it made the Time Lords more interesting for me, not less, and I put it in the script, always as a throwaway.
    The description of the Corsair and the Doctor’s relationship with him got shorter and shorter in script after script, but that aside remained, and I’m glad it did, if only because the next time the BBC needs to cast a Doctor, the press and fans get to argue passionately about twice as many actors.
    And for me, the definitive lady Doctor will always be Joanna Lumley. Se had Dalek bumps.”

  • David Fullam

    Folks, it will not be a lady, nor someone of color.

  • Ku Shin

    Yes! I would love to see him as the next Doctor!

  • Mikey Ball

    I think making the Doctor a woman or black so near to his last regenerations just looks like they’re trying too hard to be politically correct. If it had happened years ago it won’t be a problem but with two more regenerations to go (that’s including the up and coming one) it doesn’t fit. Such ideas spoilt Star Trek Voyager all those years back.
    If they can find a storyline to extend his 12 regenerations then I’d say go for it.

    Just my opinion.

  • Bob

    I’m in the Elba camp.

  • LightningBug

    I’m pretty sure there’s no chance that they plan on sticking to the 13 regenerations rule. Unless the show gets canceled, we’ll see as many doctors as they can throw at us. It would be exceedingly easy to write an excuse for why the Doctor can continue to regenerate, for example (form Wikipedia): “The BBC’s Series 4 FAQ suggests that now the Time Lord social order has been destroyed, the Doctor may be able to circumvent the limit on regenerations; it says: ‘Now that his people are gone, who knows? Time Lords used to have 13 lives.’ “

  • LightningBug

    And to be clear, that wiki quote isn’t meant as any kind of proof that they have done away with the rule. It is merely meant as an easy example of a way that they could write the rule out of the show.

  • 01101001010110101000101111011

    My actual hope is that the Doctor does die, Matt Smith as regneration 12 (assumign Hurt is a previous incarnation) and then, another time lord, actually takes the name of the doctor.
    See, now here is an interesting thing. Time Lords have name, but they also have titles, and no two titled time lords have the same titie. So, that the Doctor is The Doctor, doesn’t mean that he is the only Doctor in Time Lord history, or could be the only Doctor in Time Lord history.
    My hope is that Young Susan Foreman, returns at Matt’s end, and takes her Grandfather’s Tardis home, and then, on to new adventurs, with his young Aunt Jenny. Matt then Joins River in the that space between time, previously seen where we can all go in dreams, in a happy ending for the Doctor, and new Adventur for the new Doctor.
    Doctor Who? isn’t a question of Who is the Doctor, but who can carry the mantle of the Doctor. Who can heal all the universe, Who will be The Doctor.
    How bout that?

  • 01101001010110101000101111011

    Are you suggesting that this show is some how a work of fiction?

  • John Lewis

    I’ve also read speculation that when River used her remaining transformations to revive the Doctor, it may have added to his possible total. Given the history of the show, they could probably come up with just about any justification. Sure, fans may laugh or ridicule a ridiculous premise for keeping it going, but so long as the stories that follow are entertaining and engaging, people will forget.

  • dekko

    Two words: Daniel. Radcliffe. (and the internet exploded … ;))

  • John E King

    Let’s not forget that the reason for the regenerations in the first place was to keep the show going after the exit of the first doctor. They won’t stop producing the show just because they reach an arbitrary number established nearly years ago.

  • John E King

    I really think that the final episode of the season already set up John Hurt as the next Doctor.

  • Gailim

    it set up John Hurt as a previously unknown past incarnation of the doctor

    if he was a future doctor then how would 11 know who he was and what he did

  • batGRRRl4ever

    I like the idea, but I think Daniel needs a few more years under his belt first.

  • Jimmy

    Jared Harris would certainly bring me back to the Doctor Who franchise. David Tennant’s boggle eyes and overacting drove me away, and while Matt Smith brought me back for a while the campiness of the show drove me away again. Jared Harris is a quality actor and would likely ensure a quality production.

  • Patrick Maloney

    If only Mark Sheppard wasn’t in the sixth season premiere . . . Oh well, he can always be in my Americanized version of Doctor Who

  • dekko

    Two words: Time. Travel. ;)

  • rutterb0

    So both Dumbledore’s son and Voldemort’s brother are possibilities…interesting.

  • Andrew Ulrich

    I would fully support either Harris of McDonald taking over the role. The other two are either too well known or too…. regular…. for the role. We don’t need the pretty boy or the serious and solemn guy.

  • Andrew Ulrich

    I got the impression he was going to be more of an antagonist… either as a haunting reflection of mistakes the doctor has made or the “practical” one who makes the decisions the doctor’s been running from since the new series started (the genocides of the time wars)

  • Andrew Ulrich

    Also, the ORIGINAL NUMBER was 13. But I’m fairly certain at some point it was changed, or mentioned by a later Doc that the regenerations can go up to 900. I need a REAL whovian to check that, but I think it was one of the later docs of the classic series.

  • Andrew Ulrich

    No. If your average American viewer can name the person on sight (that’s average, not just Mad Men viewers), it’s a bad idea. Who has always been a virtual unknown over here, and a promotion from middle-of-the-pack to top tier across the pond.

  • peter

    I second Hugh Laurie, he could play any range (check out his imdb bio). I would personally love to see him as a cynical doc but he could pull off any persona .

  • BeastieRunner

    I think Tim Roth would be fun but it will most likely be a relatively uknown.

  • Simon Whitelaw

    People like Hugh Laurie and Idris Elba are never going to get the role… much too well known. Pretty much nobody had heard of either David Tennant or Matt Smith when they were cast and i’m sure Moffatt will be looking to repeat that trick with the new Doctor.

    Here are my suggestions…

    1) Craig Parkinson
    2) Joe Gilgun
    3) Stephen Walters
    4) Domhnall Gleeson
    5) Ben Wishaw (I admit this one is never going to happen)
    6) Noah Taylor
    7) Iwan Rheon
    8) James Callis
    9) Mark Rylance
    10) Jeff Stewart (with crazy hair and beard)

  • NoName

    all of you get a fucking life

  • LightningBug

    I would also suggest that less people than one might imagine actually know about or care about the 13 regenerations rule. Fandom wouldn’t be so up in arms that they’d revolt or anything like that. They’d just be glad to see a 14th doctor. Also, it wouldn’t be the first time that an inconvenient piece of cannon was swept under the rug. Not by a long shot.

  • LightningBug

    Not exactly what you were looking for, but this is from Wikipedia: “In Death of the Doctor (a 2010 The Sarah Jane Adventures serial), the Eleventh Doctor responds to a question from Clyde Langer by saying he can regenerate “507” times.”

  • LightningBug

    I don’t think fandom wants to see the Doctor become a mantle.

  • LightningBug

    If you don’t like campiness and overacting, I don’t see why you were a fan in the first place.

  • LightningBug

    Inspector Spacetime with Luke Perry?

  • LightningBug

    Or perhaps Hugh Laurie would excite an already growing American audience. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like the BBC really wants Who to be successful in the US. They would potentially have a lot to gain by casting somebody like Laurie. House was ridiculously popular, and Laurie is one of only a handful of TV actors that has such strong fan bases in both the US and the UK.

  • Ovaltine Pineapple Jenkins

    But the time lords are dead, Dave, everybody’s dead, everybody is dead, Dave.

  • Jimmy

    I’ve been a fan since Jon Pertwee, and his era along with Tom Baker and Peter Davison, although they could have some cringe-inducing episodes, weren’t by and large what I would call “campy.” I really enjoyed the reboot with Eccleston (probably misspelt his name there) and the start of Tennant’s run but his episodes increasingly resulted in moments of overacting and shouting about pressing big buttons etc, etc. it drove me away. Hopefully a more dignified Doctor Who will reappear.

  • 01101001010110101000101111011

    Fandom doesn’t want anything, or more specific it doesn’t know what it wants. What it wants is new and interesting stories that give homage to the past, while providing interesting possibilities for the future. What that entails is anybodies guess.
    Dr. Who is full of choices that (at the time) Fandom rejected, but now defend. In fact the one thing you can guarantee about fandom is that what ever random choice Mofett makes about the future of the Dr. is that it will be the single worst choice possible (according to fandom) and hailed as visionary (by fandom) a few years later.
    So if the title of the Doctor because transferable, than that just becomes part of the history of The Doctor. Whether or not the stories are good or not is what will determine if fans like it or not.

  • 01101001010110101000101111011

    Yes, all the time Lords are Dead….like Rassilon, the Master, and countless others.
    The Time Lords are Dead…but they are Time Lords…so, maybe dead isn’t really that big a barrier.
    Much like the dread pirate Yellow Beard, Time Lords are never more dangerous than when they are dead!

  • Bazell


  • Omniaural

    With Laurie’s payscale though we’d only get one episode per year though on BBC budgets!

  • Omniaural

    The timelords aren’t dead, they’re trapped aren’t they?

  • Omniaural

    I agree. If the actor is bigger than the doctor they would overshadow the role. Big stars work best as guests. I think there’s only a handful of elite actors who would be able to avoid bringing their dramatic tics to bear on the Doctor.

  • Lyle

    I knew a troll would appear here eventually. But, one who will not leave a name? Pathetic and a perfect example of cowardly, dude.
    Anyway, of the ‘official’ list that bewarethespaceman listed: Domnhall Gleeson looks interesting just because the Doctor will finally be a ginger. But, I think I would prefer one of the Weasley twins (James or Oliver Phelps) just because one of them seems like they would be more fun. I saw Daniel Kaluuya in the Fades, and thought he was really funny and charming, so he would work for me. Dominic Cooper seems like an odd choice, because the only role I have ever seen him in, as Howard Stark, where he played a handsome eccentric playboy. Could the Doctor be that? It would be interesting to find out.

  • 01101001010110101000101111011

    Some are, some are..officially dead, but the way they all became offically dead, was the way the Daleks were supposed to all be officially dead, that is destroyed outside of time, in the Time War.
    Obviously, there are still lots of daleks, and a couple of time Lords who made it through, so the idea that say Susan who was no longer living either on Gallefry or had Access to TArdis, but was last seen (well not exactly last seen but that was her offical write out) living with a human lover on an earth that had been taken over by Daleks in the distant future.

    So her not being in the Time war is a possibility, especially if people had lost track of her, or her grandfather protected her and kept her out of the time war (blah blah blah, can never corss her time again but she will avoid this horror kind of thin).
    Interestingly, as a side note, with the Doctor being a mantle and not a name, we do know that Time Lords do have names, but only some have titles. So Romana was just Romana, but The Doctor, The Master, The Rani these are beings whose existence is less about what their names are and what they represent to the universe, or what they intend to represent tot he universe. As such, one could have those titles be transferable to other Time Lords, and just to make everyone extra happy and continuity oversaturated, you could also have the next time Lord take on the memories and life of the previous. These are Time Lords afterall, they become new people all the time (David Tennant makes this point about regeneration, that he does die, and then some other bloke just takes his place, and it is not him), so the idea that someone else becomes them, that is that someone else takes on their history, and becomes the title isn’t that far fetched.
    It’s possibel that John Hurt is the first incarnation of the Doctor, and when John Hurt took on the Mantle of the Previous Doctor he became a part of that legacy, as a pennance for what ever he did and then he becomes the Dcotor.
    Maybe we can even figure out a way for the Doctor to give river her regnerations back, by having her regenerate into the Doctor.
    You never know.

  • Omniaural

    I see what you mean. They don’t technically exist anymore after Ten shunted them back outside of time (or wherever).

    Regarding the mantle issue I think that starts to get too involved for the average viewer. I think the general Who audience accept that he just regenerates when he dies. I doubt anyone who casually watches the show is aware of the legend that there is a limit to the regens and if Davies and Moffatt have shown us anything it’s that they will play to the crowd rather than srrvice the fans other than with the occasional nod.

    This 50th anniversary special offers a great chance to address some of these things though and give us a definitive history of the Doctor as he tries to escape from his own timeline.

  • Shirley Tinks Carlyon

    Hugh Laurie ftw, and steven fry as his companion!! a girl can dream ;)

  • Shirley Tinks Carlyon

    Daniel can’t act!! A shop mannequin would do better, and this sucks as i”m a hp fan

  • Erin Argast

    I could appreciate a female Dr Who, and think that Dame Helen would do it very well. What gets said in one show is reversed in another, so a female Dr would be possible. When the Dr was about 400 years old, he told us that there can only be 12 regenerations. Now that he is more like 900 years old, he must have been through more than a dozen regenerations…not all of which have been shown on TV. The ones we have seen are 11 Drs, which means 10 regenerations that we know of. Between Bertie Wooster, and Dr. House, MD, Hugh Laurie has proven that he can do any character, and I am sure that he would make an excellent Dr Who. Rupert Grint is good enough for some roles, but I don’t think he is yet up to playing Dr. Who. Maybe someday, but not yet. I do suspect that the greats we would love to see in the role-Mirren, Laurie, etc-are too well known, too busy, and too expensive…requiring the studio to go with someone else. I am sure that whoever gets the role will do it justice.

  • mlm61099

    I’m pretty sure that having River regenerate as a black person, then regenerate back into a white person may have been to show the fandom that yes, someday the Doctor could be black. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be this time. Just please don’t make him a woman, and that’s coming from a woman.

  • Mark Sniadecki

    I really want to see Kelly MacDonald as the next Doctor after Peter Capaldi. She would be fantastic.