Doctor Who: My Top 12 Picks for the 12th Doctor

Matt-Smith-as-DoctorI know, I know, these lists are everywhere. But before it’s too late, I’m jumping in the deep end with everybody else speculating on who will be the next Doctor in Doctor Who. Matt Smith will leave his role as the 11th incarnation in this year’s Christmas special. It should be sad news to me, considering the 11th Doctor was my first and remains my favorite… but I’m actually excited for a change. I’ll miss Matt Smith’s sense of humor, clumsiness, and those ridiculously intense speeches, but his performance will always be there, suspended in time to relive whenever I watch my favorite episodes again.

Even before the announcement was made about Smith leaving Doctor Who, I was hoping for a change of pace. For me, the 11th Doctor will always be attached to the Ponds; I’m just not getting the same chemistry between the Doctor and his new companion, Clara Oswald. A new actor in the role of the Doctor could be exactly what the show needs.

Before I even begin casting, let me throw out my honorable mention, Colin Morgan. I love Morgan from Merlin, but apparently he’s not interested in being the next Doctor, having already been on the show as a guest star. Adding him to this list for no reason hurts too much, so let’s move on from that…

And so, as we await the casting decision, here are my picks for the 12th Doctor!

12. Jamie Bell, 27

Jamie Bell

I’ve been a big fan of Jamie Bell for a long time. Like, since his very first film acting role in 2000’s Billy Elliot. He may not be available if he ends up starring in the TV series Turn, but I’d love to see him as the Doctor if that’s not set. What’s awesome about Bell is that even though he’s been nominated for a ton of “Young Actor” type awards, he’s never really played a traditional leading man, and he’s hardly a big name. As the Doctor, he could carry on Matt Smith’s energy, bringing a youthful swagger to the role while still reigning in the series’ darker, more dramatic moments.

11. Russell Tovey, 31


Oh, Russell Tovey. This guy is underrated. I first noticed him in the Sherlock episode “The Hounds of Baskerville,” where he stole the show for me. He can play funny, eager, curious, cautious, terrified, pained — and to top it all off, he has a way of drawing your gaze on screen that doesn’t have anything to do with traditional good looks. The fact that he is a relative unknown yet still has a long list of acting credits is interesting, and get this: Apparently, Doctor Who executive producer and lead writer Russell T. Davies suggested Tovey to replace David Tennant back in the day. Hmm…

10. Richard Coyle, 41

Richard Coyle

Richard Coyle is one of those actors who’s been in a ton of movies, yet he’s still not too well-known. He’s already worked with Steven Moffat on the British sitcom Coupling, and now he’s at a great age to play the Doctor — because he’s older than Matt Smith (for a change of pace), yet he still retains a boyish charisma. In his very long list of acting jobs, he’s proven that he can play the whole gamut of emotion, but personally, I would be most excited to see his quirky sense of humor and wide-eyed earnestness as the Doctor.

9. Paul Bettany, 42

12 Paul Bettany photo

He might be too big a name, but I can definitely picture Paul Bettany as the Doctor. He has a politeness that would make his Doctor totally different than Smith’s or Tennant’s… yet he also brings lot of humor to his roles, even in dramatic films like Master and Commander and A Beautiful Mind. I could see him being both witty and nerdy as the Doctor — a winning combination in my books.

8. Felicity Jones, 29

Felicity Jones

I am a huge Felicity Jones fan, and I think her recent performance in Like Crazy solidifies her acting talent. She’s able to pull off a graceful awkwardness that would be much sweeter and subtler than Matt Smith’s — and I think it’s perfect for the Doctor. I also think her youth and enthusiasm could be similar to the energy David Tennant brought to the show.

7. Alexander Siddig, 47


You guys know I’m obsessed with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, right? And one of my favorite characters on that show is Julian Bashir, played by Alexander Siddig. I think Siddig’s aura is quite similar to Paul Bettany’s — polished, intelligent, and charming — and he’s absolutely magnetic on screen. No matter how reserved or arrogant his characters are, they always have a sharp mind and wit bubbling beneath the surface. As the Doctor, I imagine Siddig being chivalrous and full of curiosity about everything, which would make his brand of nerdiness totally different than anyone else’s.

6. Rose Leslie, 26

Rose Leslie

She’s becoming a favorite actor of mine for her roles in Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones… and really, could you imagine how awesome it would be if Ygritte somehow revealed that she was really the Doctor? Okay, maybe that’s treading too far into crossover fanfiction, but while I watched Rose Leslie play Ygritte in GoT, I kept thinking what a fantastic Doctor that personality type would make. In her various roles, I have seen Leslie by turns quiet, confident, funny, and heartbroken, which already makes her an ideal choice for stepping into the Doctor’s shoes. Plus, her offbeat beauty and ginger hair give her a fantastic look for the role. A woman and a ginger in the same regeneration? I would dig it.

5. Amy Acker, 36

Amy Acker

Sure, she’s American and a pretty big name in the Whedonverse, but it’s hard to think of any actor — male or female — who could take on the role of the Doctor with as much aplomb as Amy Acker would. She obviously has the acting chops for all kinds of scenes, but what I love most about her is the way she can seem both intelligent and scatter-brained at the same time. I imagine her bringing a fresh energy to Doctor Who, with a lot of curiosity, awkwardness, and calculation of every situation before plunging into the chaos with a final shrug. (Can you tell I’ve spent a lot of time imagining her in the role?)

4. Ben Whishaw, 32

Ben Whishaw

Apparently, Ben Whishaw is already a leading fan pick for the 12th Doctor, and I’m totally on board with that. I’ve seen him in a lot of movies over the years but never paid loads of attention to him, because he has a way of sinking seamlessly into his roles. That’s a good thing. But then I saw him in Skyfall, where he played a very different type of character than what I was used to seeing with him, and I fell a little bit in love. I’ve seen him play a creative type as well as a total nerd, which together would make a perfect Doctor.

3. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 35

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor is another favorite among fans guessing who will play the 12th Doctor — and for good reason. This guy has major charisma and acting ability. I know him best from Serenity, in which he plays the villain… but I bet he can do jovial, too. He could be even more refined than Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, which would be refreshing. I imagine Ejiofor’s Doctor as suave, dignified, and occasionally full of rage. I always like it when the Doctor lets his emotions show — his desperation and anger — which Matt Smith did really well. But I believe Ejiofor would do it on an even grander scale.

2. Lara Pulver, 32


Lara Pulver was riveting in her performance as Irene Adler in Sherlock — but that’s all I’ve seen of her. And that’s a great thing, because I like the idea of a relative unknown playing the Doctor. Pulver has a harsh elegance that would make her a very unique incarnation of the Doctor — one totally capable of dominating the spotlight. I could see her playing a Doctor who treats everything like a long, cold game of chess, but she’d bring plenty of wit to the role, too.

1. James Callis, 42

James Callis

Okay. James Callis. If you need to know why he would be absolutely superb in Doctor Who, just watch a few of his episodes of Battlestar Galactica. (Somebody even put together a fake Doctor Who audition tape showing all of the traits and emotions he can act, which you can watch here.) Not only can I imagine him giving epic “I’m the Doctor” type speeches, I’ve seen him give them. He also has a sort of crackling, spontaneous intelligence. You know when the Doctor says something like, “I have absolutely no idea what to do,” goes all weird and funny… and then suddenly has a lightbulb moment? Callis could totally pull that off. I imagine him as a slightly desperate, manic Doctor with a sometimes awkward sense of humor and bouts of insecurity.

Maybe Callis is already too well-known to play the Doctor, but I would campaign for him if I could. He is hands-down my top choice for the 12th Doctor.

— Ashley

154 thoughts on “Doctor Who: My Top 12 Picks for the 12th Doctor”

  1. My wife and watch Doctor Who regularly and we both agree that the new doctor is going to a shake up. We are predicting a women. This probably means the assistant will be a male to have sexual tension. I do not think it will be a female doctor and a female assistant. That might be to extreme. Remember Donna Nobel played a mid-doctor so the idea has had some traction. Who is your favorite doctor? Mine is between Tom Baker and David Tenant. I thought both did an admiral job.I enjoyed your post. Thanks, Barry

    1. Thanks! I would love for the next Doctor to be a woman, and I agree that in that case, a male companion would probably be preferred for the sexual tension. Good point! I don’t know, though. I’m anticipating that a woman won’t be chosen this time, but a non-white actor is a very viable option especially with a lot of people backing Eiofor! That would be cool. That’s just my prediction, though! =)

      My favorite Doctor is the 11th. I started watching the show with him and then worked back to the other Doctors, so I haven’t seen all of the earliest ones yet. However, Matt Smith’s take on the Doctor remains my favorite! Although I’m actually going to get into Tom Baker’s episodes soon, excited for that!

      1. Ashley, appreciate your input. Time will tell. I have worked up half a short story on a science fiction theme. If you will like to see it I will post it on my blog. So far it is fifteen pages. You would be the first person to see it and I would like your insight to how you liked it. Send me a post if that is okay? and then I will post it.

    2. Nooooo – get rid of the sexual tension. I’ve hated all the fancying that’s been going on in the last couple of series. Best for me was Donna and the Doctor because the Doctor should be the assistant’s best friend. Even some of the later Rose and Doctor epsodes they never allowed the love she had for him to overwhelm the character. Anyway, I’m rooting for a turn back to the Christopher Eccleston doctor and early Tennant where the madness was ever so slightly hidden. Olivia Colman would be a fantastic doctor but I wouldn’t be upset eyeing up young Ben there every week!

  2. Oh my God! I just LOVE this list! I totally agree with you. Colin Morgan would be ~great~ for the 12th Doctor. So sad that he won’t be… At least we’ll see him in his new drama Quirke!

    1. I hadn’t heard about that drama, I have to check it out now! Colin Morgan really has the perfect vibes to play the Doctor, doesn’t he? But I’ll be excited for all of his future projects. =)

    1. Yes! But even so, they still thought of casting him for the 11th. I don’t think that will matter… though I know some people may not like the idea of recognizing someone already on the show like that!

  3. Your choices of possible female doctors are really good. I haven’t been keen on the idea of having a female doctor because none of the actors that people have suggested seem to fit but I think I would be very happy watching any of the ones you’ve listed!

    1. Thanks! I totally agree. When I first heard of the idea of a woman being cast, I immediately thought, NO, that’s not going to work! There’s a certain balance to the male Doctor, female companion thing that I really enjoy. But the more I thought about, the more I could see a woman Doctor… it just has to be the right actor and top notch writing. People will be analyzing it to death, I’m sure! =)

  4. There are a lot of good choices here, but the Doctor to me will always be male. Not that I don’t think a woman could do it , but it’s all I’ve known.

  5. Great list. I might have to join the Ben Whishaw camp. I was all for a female Doctor when they cast Eleven, and I still am in principle, but I haven’t been wowed so far by any of suggestions for women to take on the role. You make a good case for Lara Pulver, though.

  6. I honestly don’t think they’re going their choice is going to be a female, and I can’t see anyone from this list as the next Doctor except for maybe Paul Bettany and Ben Whishaw. Realistically looking, though, Ben just might get the role. And I wouldn’t oppose, he has looks and that nerdy charm to be the next one, but then, what happens to Q? :/
    I guess if I had to choose a front runner, I’d go with Ben.

  7. Pulver has been doing well in Da Vincis demons – and I LOVED her in Sherlock. That said, my favourites from your list would be Paul Bettany and Russell Toovey, and maaaybe Jamie Bell.

  8. As a lifelong fan of the show, I so hope the new Doctor is not a woman.
    The idea of Time Ladies is excellent and massively underused in the reinvented Doctor Who (due to the Doctor having killed his whole race of course!) However, I wish we wouldn’t mess too much with the fundamentals of our great institutions and characters. We don’t feel the repeated desire to reboot Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan or James Bond as women – so why the Doctor?

    I realise this is Science Fiction and you can do pretty much whatever you like with it – But as they say…just because you ‘can’ do something, doesn’t mean you ‘should’.

    If the desire exists so strongly to have a time travelling female, then why not let the Doctor ‘die’ after his 12th regeneration (as original series lore dictates) and spin off a new show with a charismatic Time Lady. If the Master survived, I’m sure a wily female Gallifreyan could also have accomplished it! I’d be quite happy for any of the ladies in the frame above to pick up that role!

  9. I’m no Dr. Who freak, but I’ve been watching for 30+ years…
    A woman doctor… Not sure I’m ready for it, but so be it if it comes to fruition. =-)
    Then I hope the asst. is cute!!

  10. Reblogged this on Sensuous Enemy and commented:
    Although we haven’t made very many posts lately due to our writing, recording and performing schedule, we do seem to find time to watch a bit of Doctor Who when we need a good laugh and some great SciFi! The question on everyone’s mind these days is “who will be the next Doctor Who”? My bet is on it being a woman since the Doctor can change into whomever he chooses to. I will be anxiously awaiting the results as I’m sure most of you my techie friends will be too! Who would you bet your money on?

  11. The next doctor will not be a woman, it would be too ridiculous. It would be like that sketch they did when he regenerated into Joanna Lumley. They’re not going to do that just to shake things up.
    I don’t know why people keep suggesting Russell Tovey either, he is and always shall be Alonso.

  12. Great list all the above have very appealing merits in their own different ways but I think they will probably go for someone just a little more under the radar than these choices. I mean the last three Doctors were actors who were just waiting for their big break really. Matt Smith wasn’t in much before this, David Tennant did play Casanova and had been in Goblet of Fire with Christopher Ecclestone the only established actor of the last three. I think they will go for a complete unknown. But I would love hime to be a ginger and who better than Ron Weasley!

  13. My pick for the next Doctor? I’d like to see a relatively unknown actor take the role. It’s been done before quite successfully in the beginnings of the show and it can be done again with the right person.

  14. Omg HUGE Doctor Who fan here.. When i read that Matt Smith was doing a movie this summer with Ryan Gosling I knew that his days of Doctor Who was coming to an end. Guess what 2 weeks later it was posted that he was leaving! I have been trying to imagine who could make a good next Doctor. Me? I am Forever a Tennant fan but I think it would be Epic for them to cast a female as the Doctor umm just as long as they make her ginger.

  15. I too am looking forward to a change. That is what I love about this show. If you like Russell Tovey, you might want to check out the UK Being Human, he’s fabulous in it.

  16. I have to confess I love Matt Smith best of all, probably because he’s the first doctor I’ve seen (don’t throw things at me, I’m American!) and it saddens me that he’s leaving but I see what you mean about the Ponds. I also have to confess to being a traitor to my sex by not really wanting a female doctor but then you had to go and list Amy Acker and that went right out the window! I could totally see Amy Acker as the 12th Doctor, I could probably imagine half of the WhedonWorld actors as the Doctor and-hey! I know! How about Joss Whedon himself as the 12th Doctor???
    Yes, I am a little loony 😀

  17. Some interesting choices here. In some ways, a relatively unknown actor carries less baggage with them. Out of this list, Ben Wishaw would be my choice, with Chiwetel Ejiofor a close second. I would have loved a second series with Christopher Eccleston, as I loved the tougher, “Northern” attitude he brought to the role. And the Manchester accent.
    Tom Baker seems to be almost everyone’s all-time favourite. But I’d also recommend Jon Pertwee’s Doctor – I can’t really choose between them.
    Great article!

  18. The Doctor CAN’T be a woman!! I can’t really decide why, but just no.
    I’ve never thought about Chiwetel Ejiofor before, but now you mention it, he would be awesome. Ben Whishaw would be too similar to 10 and 11. And Russell Tovey was in Doctor Who before – Jack got off with him in DT’s final ep. As for Richard Coyle, as amazing as he is, he will always be Jeff from Coupling. If he was the Doctor, I’d keep expecting him to go off on tangents such as, “You know what’s great about skirts…?” or “I love the word naked…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s