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15 women who could play Doctor Who


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Doctor Who is on the look out for a new Time Lord to take reign of the TARDIS controls after Peter Capaldi leaves the show in December.

In light of Phoebe Waller Bridge’s theatre company Dry White tweeting that the Fleabag star will not be the new Doctor, we look at 15 other actresses who could potentially be the first female incarnation of the character.

Zawe Ashton

Fresh out of starring in Fresh Meat, Ashton, who will be 33 later this month, has expertise in playing extreme, feisty characters. Just think of Vod going face-to-face with a Cyberman. That would be funny and entertaining but at the same time, somewhat terrifying. 

Vod has a cult following - just imagine what a Zawe Ashton-Doctor could have. Not to mention that the actress has experience in the Whoniverse, having appeared in the Series 8 episode, 'Into the Dalek'.

Hayley Atwell

The Agent Carter actress tweeted that she wanted to play the Doctor way back in 2015.

With Conviction being cancelled, Atwell needs a new job. She’s already been part of a monster franchise, and in the role, was prepared to get her hands dirty. A Carter-modelled Doctor would probably be the most violent too - if new showrunner Chris Chibnall so chooses.

She’s also a big fan of the show – which could give her useful insight into playing the character.

Helena Bonham Carter

No-one could possibly forget the brutal, violent scene between Bellatrix and Hermione in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

A large part of that was down to Bonham Carter’s portrayal of Bellatrix Lestrange, who was a complete psychopath. The Doctor has in the past had darker overtones and Bonham Carter could provide that.

Additionally, her great-grandfather Herbert Asquith was British Prime Minister during the First World War and Florence Nightingale is also a distant relative. This could be rather interesting for history buffs if either appear in a story.

Sally Brenton

Brenton has starred in several recent TV successes. As Lucy in Not Going Out and Martha in Death In Paradise, Brenton played the love interest of the main characters. Perhaps now is the time for Brenton to walk into the spotlight.

Her characters are generally quite bubbly, but Lucy in particular has a mean streak about her - a combination that could be interesting for a Time Lord.

Olivia Colman

Having starred with David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor, in Broadchurch - a show written and created by Chris Chibnall - Colman is a natural, and already has the support of Who alumni.

Tennant has already given Colman his backing, while Phil Collinson, who produced several episodes of New Who, said: “I want Olivia Colman. It’s the right time and she would be really good.”

Colman previously starred in the Series 5 episode The Eleventh Hour and has shown her ability to produce stunning performances with deep and complex characters - even when surrounded by big names such as in The Night Manager.

Alana de la Garza

de La Garza, 40, would also be the first American Doctor Who. But before you cry out in anguish - remember that we’ve had an American Master in Eric Roberts.

de La Garza first shot to fame playing ADA Connie Rubirosa - a strong-willed defender of women’s rights in Law & Order. She also recently starred two seasons of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.

In these shows, she took part in several physical chase and fight scenes with lots of high energy - something which could be useful for Doctor Who.

Miranda Hart

Hart’s character in Miranda was rather goofy. For many, she could be the female equivalent to Matt Smith’s exuberant Eleventh Doctor. Imagine - a Doctor with Fruit Friends instead of human companions. 

Indeed, her performances in Spy and Call the Midwife have actually been quite good, offering good comic respite during more intense scenes. 

Joanna Lumley

Lumley has actually played the Doctor before.

In 1999, the BBC produced Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death - a non-canon Comic Relief special starring Rowan Atkinson as the Doctor. After an altercation with The Master (Jonathan Pryce) and some Daleks, the Doctors goes through several bodies.

First up is Richard E. Grant, followed by Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant, before the Doctor ultimately regenerates into Joanna Lumley.

Companion Emma notes that Lumley’s Doctor isn’t “the man I fell in love with” and the Doctor and the Master ended up getting quite coy and walking off together. Perhaps Lumley could be tempted to return?

Sue Perkins

Despite having little acting experience. Perkins was a favourite in 2013 as Steven Moffat admitted Matt Smith might regenerate into a woman.

She looks like she could play the Doctor already, with her attire featuring smart blazers and shirts on a regular basis.

Lara Pulver

Having worked with Moffat on Sherlock and having captured attention in Robin Hood and Spooks, Pulver is another natural candidate.

BetFair offered odds at 10-1 on her being named Doctor Who in January. Now 36, Pulver admitted in 2012 she would be up for playing the Doctor if fans were okay with it: “Yes and no. Not if it meant the end of the Doctor Who franchise, because the fans aren’t keen on it.”

Alexandra Roach

The Welsh actress has recently impressed with her performance as DS Joy Freers on No Offence.

The 29-year-old was part of a group of characters who showed real camaraderie - something which is essential to all Doctor Who incarnations. Freers was a bubbly character, but also one with serious storylines, who developed well to combat them. A large part of that was down to Roach’s acting skill.

Jennifer Saunders

Saunders, 59, known for her outrageous Absolutely Fabulous character Edina, was rumoured in 2007 to be playing the Doctor in a special one-off episode that never aired.

The Doctor played as Edina could be quite interesting. Imagine chasing new crazes through different times and planets!

Tilda Swinton

Swinton is the female favourite. If bookies are to be believed, it is between her, Colman and Kris Marshall.

Eighth Doctor Paul McGann said: “I’d pick Tilda because she’s a great character.” The actress also has experience in gender-bending roles, having taken on the previously male character of The Ancient One in Doctor Strange, as well as Virginia Woolf's Orlando.

Now 56, Swinton has not had a TV acting role since 1990 but has achieved a brilliant career in film. Perhaps after finding such success, a return to the small screen beckons for the versatile actress?

Catherine Tate

In the Series 4 finale Journey’s End, we saw the Doctor-Donna. Tate gave a stunning performance as a Time Lord-human hybrid, so why can’t we see something like this again?

Both Colin Baker (Sixth Doctor) and Peter Capaldi had previous appearances in the show. Tom Baker’s cameo in Day of The Doctor was even credited as The Curator, as it was never established that he was the Fourth Doctor. He may have been a guy around UNIT in the 1970s, who the Third Doctor saw and regenerated into a body with his likeness.

Taking all this into account, Tate’s appearance as the Doctor with Donna Noble's likeness shouldn't an issue. 

Emma Watson

There’s been plenty of rumours of Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint (he can finally be ginger) being mooted to play the Doctor.

But why not their Harry Potter co-star? Still only 27, Emma Watson would beat Matt Smith’s record of youngest Doctor by five months, adding a youthful, empowering twist to the show.

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