As you all know, David Tennant will be leaving Doctor Who, probably at Christmas 2009, relinquishing the best role on television to a new actor (or actress?) for the fifth series of the revamped TV classic in 2010. This series of Doctor Who will mark showrunner-elect Steven Moffat’s first run in the big chair on the series. And his first, most important task, will be to select the actor who will take Doctor Who on the next phase of this trip of a lifetime…
I’ve mused recently on some names that might fit the bill for the role, and the papers are coming up with new names seemingly every day (Tom Ellis? I mean, really…)
We probably have months ahead before Tennant’s successor is announced - and let’s not count David out yet, he’s got a stack of specials to film throughout next year. But here at TV Today towers we thought it might be fun to run the occasional piece on possible contenders who we think could be Who… You never know, we might get it right…
First up, I would like to put forward Mr Chiwetel Ejiofor. With television, Hollywood movies and award-winning theatre stints on his packed CV, Ejiofor certainly has the acting chops to take on the Doctor. He’s played transvestites (Kinky Boots, 2005), charming yet evil galactic assassins (Serenity, 2005) and desperate fathers (Tsunami: the Aftermath, 2006), so if there’s one thing he isn’t short of, it’s range.
Certainly Ejiofor’s stunning, Oliver Award-winning turn as Othello at the Donmar last year also displays what I would call the necessary classical gravitas that playing the Doctor requires. I’m not saying I want an actor who will orate to the back of the Tardis, but somebody with.. presence. Tennant has shown this quality is necessary to be successful (and most of the other Doctors had it) in the role. You cast somebody in this role without presence at your peril (I refer my learned friends once more to Tom Ellis - being married to Tamzin Outhwaite just isn’t enough I’m afraid…)
You can’t play Doctor Who as a one-note study in minimalism. I think we will see a slightly more sedate take on the role to contract nicely with David Tennant’s naturally energetic charm. I feel Chiwetel Ejiofor would have a sensitive, calm quality in the role, tinged with a sad humour in those expressive eyes and a quirky energy at unforeseen moments. Perhaps he could be a more spiritual Doctor…
Of course, the enormity of casting a black actor in the role is not lost on me. The Doctor has been a touchstone of white, middle/upper-class masculinity for decades (odd for a character who is such an anarchist), and such a shift might take some diehard fans a while to adjust. Well, tough on them - but ultimately the casting has to be colour blind and it’s about the actor who is eventually cast and what they can bring to the role.
For me Ejiofor would bring an immense wealth of experience to the part, and as I said previously, he is topping my list of actors who could be Who.
Of course a blossoming career in character roles in Hollywood might be too much of an obstacle to being tied down to a nine month shoot every year - especially as the BBC would be keen to have a minimum three-year commitment to the series from their new lead.
But Doctor Who in the here and now has a habit of taking brilliant actors and transforming them into true stars - and that’s got be worth three years of anybody’s time? Hasn’t it?
Photo: Tristram Kenton