Though the announcement about Matt Smith’s departure from Doctor Who is barely two days old (recent enough that I’m still drowning in my own tears of despair), rumours are already flying about who will join the cast of the long-running television drama as the twelfth incarnation of the infamous “mad man with a box.” With a Doctor Who insider quoted earlier today as saying that “[a]ll actors, no matter their sex or race, will be considered. If they are good enough, the part is theirs,” the playing field seems to be wide open.
British-based gambling company Sky Bet is currently naming the odds-on favourite as Ben Daniels, an English actor in his late-forties, best known for his role in Law & Order: UK . Daniels was most recently seen in the Netflix original series House of Cards.
The newsmedia is also venturing guesses about Harry Potter vets Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint (the Doctor would finally be a ginger!); Richard Madden, Game of Thrones’s Robb Stark and boyfriend of current Who companion Jenna-Louise Coleman; Moffat-helmed Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman; and even about the potential return of David Tennant (the tenth Doctor). Online speculation also includes comedians Russell Brand and Jack Whitehall; stage actor Rory Kinnear; House’s Hugh Laurie; Ben Whishaw, best known as Q in the Bond franchise; David Morrissey (The Walking Dead’s The Governor); Les Misérables’ Eddie Redmayne; Being Human UK’s Russell Tovey; Merlin’s Colin Morgan; Tom Hiddleston (Loki from The Avengers and Thor); Titanic’s David Warner (recently seen in the Who episode “Cold War”); and Sean Pertwee, real-life son of third Doctor Jon Pertwee.
Close on Daniels’ heels for the best odds on Sky Bet is Chiwetel Ejiofor, an actor of Nigerian heritage in his mid-thirties, who was The Operative in Joss Whedon’s film debut, Serenity.
Other male actors of colour being hypothesized about include Idris Elba (also rumoured to be up for the next James Bond); David Harewood (Homeland); Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd); Dev Patel (The Newsroom, Slumdog Millionaire); and Ashley Waters, who recently appeared in “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.”
Not limiting the speculation to men alone, the ground-breaking potential of the first-ever female Doctor has people talking about English actresses of all ages. Sky Bet is naming Olivia Colman (Broadchurch, The Iron Lady) as the female favourite of the day.
Look familiar? She has already guest-starred alongside the Doctor, playing an incarnation of Prisoner Zero in Matt Smith’s Who debut, “The Eleventh Hour.” Quoted two years ago as saying she would like to play the Doctor, Helen Mirren is also up for debate, along with Harry Potter’s Emma Watson, Case Histories’ Zawe Ashton, Utopia’s Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Heading Out’s Sue Perkins, and former Who companion Billie Piper.
While previously appearing in episodes of Who doesn’t necessarily put you out of the running for future casting – both Karen Gillan and Freema Agyeman both had small roles on Doctor Who before becoming companions . It seems as though John Hurt is officially off the table as the next regeneration of the Time Lord. Showrunner Steven Moffat confirmed that someone completely new will be cast as the Doctor. In Moffat’s official BBC statement on Smith’s departure from the show, saying that “now the search begins. Somewhere out there right now – all unknowing, just going about their business – is someone who’s about to become the Doctor. A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again!”