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By the nature of its regenerating lead character, Doctor Who grants its fanbase the somewhat rare TV conversation point of debating who could take over the central role in the future. And while the entire lineup of Time Lords up to this point is all white males, the future could very well see the Doctor taking on a completely different form. In fact, before Peter Capaldi got the part, it sounds like we were thisclose to getting a black actor as Number 12 for Season 8 and beyond. Here’s how showrunner Steven Moffat described it.
I certainly don’t think there’s ever been a problem with making the Doctor black, which is why it should happen one day. I mean, we’ve tried. The part has been offered to a black actor. But for various reasons, it didn’t work out.
A few years back, when Moffat and the rest of the Who team were in the process of replacing the exiting Matt Smith, there were rumors that a black actor was being courted for the Time Lord, although those talks faded away without many details available. But now that Moffat has revealed the actor was even given the offer, we want to create a parallel timeline where we get to see this unknown actor taking on the part for Season 8. We might use this timeline for other nefarious things, but that’s for a different article.
At the time, the actors whose names were being tossed around were Idris Elba, David Harewood, Chiwetel Ejiofor and more. Elba has basically become the go-to actor for dreamcasting iconic roles, so he obviously would have been amazing as the witty time-traveling adventurer. Harewood is currently rocking out with another sci-fi persona on Supergirl as Martian Manhunter, but I’d trade that role to see him and a companion battling Daleks and chasing a dinosaur. Similarly, Ejiofor is an actor that could fit into any role in any genre, so our fingers are crossed that if the offer indeed went to one of these thespians in the past, that whatever stopped it from happening the first time goes away by the time Capaldi steps down.
Moffat shared this news with Doctor Who Magazine (via The Guardian), where he also said he thinks it would be “refreshing” if the next Doctor wasn’t a white guy, and that it would be amazing to see two non-white leads in the show. They’re halfway there with new companion Bill, as played by Pearl Mackie, whose family tree spreads to India.
Season 10 will be the last ride for Moffat, who will pass the reins to Chris Chibnall. Could new blood behind the scenes be what’s needed to bring a black actor, or really an actor of any other nationality? And what about a woman Doctor? How great would it be to see a female Time Lord taking on Missy the Master?
Unfortunately, we won’t get to see Capaldi back as the Doctor for Season 10 until 2017, so it’ll be even longer before any replacement talks will get serious. In the meantime, fans will hopefully be sated with the upcoming spinoff Class, which will debut later this year.