Who would make a good Doctor Who? I’ve been giving it some thought, and there are some people I think would make a good television Doctor and some people who would make a good film Doctor, and the lists don’t really cross.
I’ll leave aside Paul McGann. I would love to see McGann have another shot at the Doctor outside of the audios. However, film and television productions being what they are, I don’t know how likely that would be. I think that McGann would be capable of pulling off a film Doctor; he’d be the one I could most easily see going either direction. So, consider McGann my first choice for both. But, if not McGann, then who?
First, film Doctors:
- Hugh Grant. He really is my first choice, if a Doctor Who film is ever made. I get the impression he wouldn’t even have to act to do the Doctor. His take on the role might largely depend on his force of personality. Plus, of all the Doctors in “Curse of the Fatal Death,” Hugh was the Doctor that worked the best for me. (In descending order of preference, that would be Hugh Grant, Lumley, Richard E. Grant, Atkinson, Broadbent).
- Alan Rickman. He’s done a lot of really crappy roles in the past. The less said about Kevin Smith’s Dogma the better. However, he has done some spectacular work, and I think he could do the part of the Doctor some real justice. Also, I’m told that it was he, and not Pierce Brosnan, that Leonard Nimoy cast for his Doctor Who film.
- Tim Curry. He seems a little bit of a lightweight to play the Doctor, but in many of his roles he has the manic quality that being the Doctor almost requires. I could see Curry as being bombastic and ruthless. In other words, a lot like Colin Baker.
- Malcolm McDowell. He’s a real stretch to visualize as the Doctor, especially because he’s not all that young any more and all of his roles tend towards the sinister, with Time After Time being about his only not-sinister role (the other one being Cross Creek). However, if you ever watched the revised Fantasy Island, you’d see the Doctor’s qualities in Mr. Rourke.
- Sir Ian McKellan. Okay, so I see him as being the Cushing Doctor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
David Warner would have been another top choice, ten or fifteen years ago. Now he’s a bit ragged and dumpy. On the other hand, I would never pick Pierce Brosnan as the Doctor. I really cannot picture that one at all. Nor would I pick Patrick Stewart. And that covers the big-name British actors at work in Hollywood today. The other choice, Sir Anthony Hopkins, is just too old for the role, and I really cannot picture him as the Doctor.
- Stephen Fry. If Doctor Who ever returns to television (at least, within the next five years), I would want Stephen Fry as our favorite Time Lord from Gallifrey. I can’t put my finger on exactly what qualifies Stephen Fry to be the Doctor in my mind. Some of it comes from watching Jeeves & Wooster. Some of it comes from watching the Oscar Wilde biopic he did a few years back. Some of it’s just a gut feeling. He also wouldn’t do bad as a film Doctor, either, but I don’t think Fry would have any real star power to draw the film.
- John Thaw. Okay, another pick out of left field. And another old actor. First, I don’t picture him doing the Doctor as Inspector Morse. Put that out of your mind. What sold me on the idea of John Thaw was a film Masterpiece Theatre showed a couple of years ago starring him as an old man that befriended a young boy during World War II. Seemed pretty Doctorish to me.
- Alexander Siddig. Not a likely choice; he’s pretty much given up acting to focus on a film directing career. However, I think the character shadings he gave Julian Bashir show the qualities the Doctor needs: a sympathetic know-it-all. It was his idea to have Bashir be thoroughly unlikable in the first two seasons, and I think it’s a credit to his skills as an actor that he was able to bring Bashir around from a total asshole to being a character you could like without reservation. In a way, that’s something the Doctor really needs at this point, to be a character the audience can see as heroic, but also a character they’re not entirely sure of. In other words, what Andrew Cartmel tried to do during McCoy’s era.
That about covers the possibilities that I can think of. I keep hearing Sean Bean’s name tossed around, and I’m on the fence there. He does Sharpe pretty damn well, and I honestly want to see him take a crack at James Bond when Pierce Brosnan retires from the role, but I can’t see the Doctor in him. Maybe it’s there and I’ve missed it.