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If the 12th Doctor Must Be a Man...

If the 12th Doctor <i>Must</i> Be a Man...

While Doctor Who has a friendly relationship with its fans, let’s get serious: no matter how much we want the last survivor of Gallifrey to regenerate into a woman, the powers-that-be at the BBC are going to make their decision without calling us first. Meaning, the possibility of the Doctor remaining a Time Lord rather than becoming a Time Lady is pretty high. So if another bloke must be cast, what kind of guy should we hope for?

Besides being goofy, heroic, extremely intelligent, and English, the Doctor’s other consistent characteristic is being a white guy. While the personalities of his various incarnations have been totally diverse, his apparent ethnicity has not. So if he has to be male, we think the producers and casting directors have a duty to cast someone who isn’t Caucasian. Back in 2010, before Matt Smith was announced as David Tennant’s successor, Paterson Joseph was widely rumored to be stepping into the part. And now, almost four years later, Joseph is still a fantastic actor and completely capable of filling the role—not to mention, he’s been on Doctor Who before. And, at 48, he’s a little bit older and more venerable than the last few very youthful Doctors we’ve encountered—maybe the Peter Pan thing is a bit played out at this point?

Speaking of excellent film actors who know sci-fi, who doesn’t love Idris Elba? His character got screwed over in Thor, killed in Prometheus, and we’ll-have-to-wait-and-see in Pacific Rim. It just might be time for Idris to take center stage as an outer space hero who might get to survive the stories he inhabits. And let’s face it: Elba’s Doctor would be a stronger, hunkier, and more physical version of the Time Lord. Would it be difficult to poach Elba off his current show, Luther? Sure, but playing the Doctor is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and playing the first Doctor of color, well, I don’t see how he could pass that up. Elba’s already a BBC insider, he’s English, and he’d bring a certain star power to the show. Doctor Who’s international appeal has been growing, but Elba could really catapult things to a whole nother level.

Now for the dream casting moment where we blurt out a name we know is way too big (though if John Hurt’s guest starring in the anniversary special, you never know…). If they choose to cast a minority actor who is neither English nor black, why not go with Gael Garcia Bernal? I know this might sound bonkers, but the guy’s ethereal sensibilities (have you seen The Science of Sleep?) combined with the fact that he’s totally dashing could make for an awesome Doctor.

A centuries old time-traveler from another planet who can regenerate his entire body at the point of death should not be limited to one apparent ethnicity. And yet, there’s every reason to believe the BBC could play it safe and once again cast a white guy. To which I say, if they must, then the only white male actor I’ll accept after Matt Smith would be Dan Stevens. That’s right, Matthew Crawley of Downton Abbey would be totally perfect: he’s heroic, kind, and completely different from the last two incarnations. Plus…he’s available.

Which actors would you accept as the next Doctor?

Tags: doctor who, bbc, steven moffat, iris elba, matt stevens

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About the Author
Ryan Britt

Ryan Britt is the author of Luke Skywalker Can't Read and Other Geeky Truths, forthcoming from Plume (Penguin) Books on 11.24.15. He's written for The New York Times, Electric Literature, The Awl, VICE Motherboard, Clarkesworld Magazine, and is a consulting editor for Story Magazine. He lives in New York City.

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