On Monday SilverHammerMan asked (while I was busy photoshopping horrible things and so am only getting to it now):
Since some other people have mentioned the next Doctor now, I was wondering how you felt about the possibility of a female or non-white Doctor? It seems like every time we enter that stage between Doctors the internet gets whipped into a lather either declaring it a great idea or a terrible one, and I wondered where you stand.
I’m very much on board the train of thought that the next Doctor shouldn’t be just another white dude, yes.
I’m all in for a Doctor of colour – last time around I remember Andrew Wheeler suggested Chiwetel Ejiofor and I thought that was a splendid idea. Paterson Joseph wouldn’t be bad either, although I suspect he might be too manic as the Doctor. Adrian Lester would work, I think, as would Ashley Walters (although I am personally of the opinion that the next Doctor should not be Matt Smith-level young, we need a bit of a change-up and Walters is accordingly not the right fit at this time). Lennie James would be awesome. I don’t think Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje would be right for the role. Idris Elba is probably not attainable unless he really really wants to be the Doctor; the people who said Richard Ayoade are amusing trolls. Getting away from black men, I would love to see Alexander Siddig or Jimi Mistry or Naveen Andrews take a crack at the role, and I would break my “no young Doctor” rule for Dev Patel (although I think he would be better suited as a companion for a female Doctor).
I’m a little more leery about a female Doctor, but I have to admit that this is mostly because as a dude I identify with the Doctor on a gender basis. My way for dealing with this is to say “what if Helen Mirren played the Doctor” and then I have to admit “holy shit that would be balls-out amazing” even though she’s not going to do it because come on, she has better things to do with her time both in terms of art and money because she is Helen Mirren. Joanna Lumley is an interesting idea but would be getting into William Hartnell levels of Doctor age and I think is therefore unlikely. (Helen Mirren is ageless and therefore gets around this rule.) Kelly MacDonald is interesting, assuming people can tolerate the Doctor suddenly being Scottish (which I think would be more controversial than the Doctor being female, honestly). Emma Thompson would be amazing. Julie Walters would likely add an interesting “the Doctor is your kooky but tough grandmother” vibe to the character that I think would work really well. I think a lot of people would balk at Elizabeth Hurley but I’ve always thought she’s a great dramedy actress and would surprise people. Joely Richardson would be a badass Doctor, I think. And if we want to go full-diversity and have a female Doctor of color, there’s always Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who in addition to being lovely and awesome has a fantastic name.
Of course, practically all of these people are Names, which is why they are unlikely to be cast; they command bigger salaries and the BBC is still the BBC, even if it is one of their flagship shows. Unless they’re willing to take a pay cut, the next Doctor will probably be like Tennant or Smith – a relative unknown. Eccleston was an outlier in that regard.