Alternate Doctor Who Casting

The thing that I most love about this Alternate History of Doctor Who, where all the incarnations are played by women, is how immediately visceral my reactions are to the castings: “Brilliant!” Ugh, no!” “Interesting.” “Wtf? Quit casting comedy actors, goodness sake.”

For real casting, I try to wait until I actually see the person in the show before offering a view. Speculative casting? It interest me not. But made-up casting for stuff that could never actually be made? Ooooh! Let me tell you all my thoughts!

So here’s an exciting blog post all about those thoughts, you lucky readers:

Sadly, I’m not familiar with the first two actors on the list, Joyce Grenfell (First Doctor) and Hattie Jacques (Second Doctor), so I’ll have to skip them, and then take the list from the top, for that way I can end it in cheering fashion:

Eleventh Doctor: Miranda Hart.

AK NO. Admittedly that’s always my reaction to the announcement of a new Doctor and every time I’ve been won over by the end of their first episode, but none of those actors (from McGann to Smith) were ones that I had seen a great deal of beforehand, or associated with particular roles. Miranda Hart very much is. I love Miranda (the show), mind. And I think Hart is both a smashing writer and actor, but a comedy actor. A brilliant comedy actor that I don’t think would make a terribly compelling Doctor. (I imagine similar things were set about Pertwee, back in the day.)

Tenth Doctor: Sue Perkins

AK NO, WORSE. Another comedy actor, but this time one I’m so-so at rather than love. It would be horrid and I’d hate it. Sorry, Sue Perkins. You are wonderful on Great British Bake-Off, however. (I can see her working rather well with Rose though…in my head those scenes work quite well, it’s just everything else that would be rubbish.) And Maggie Smith for Yana, dammit!

Ninth Doctor: Suranne Jones

BRILLIANT. This idea makes me absurdly happy. I love that I can see her playing it exactly as written, and it’s just so cool to me. Eccleston is marvellous, yes, but I think with Jones in the part I would go from “well, I quite like it and I can see that it’s an excellent year of telly even though it doesn’t hit all my buttons” to “THIS IS THE BEST OF ALL THINGS” and then calm down a bit on a second viewing.

Eighth Doctor: Helen Baxendale.

Horrid idea. Baxendale is one of those actors who, yes, I know she can act and I assume she’s quite good, but for me is basically a giant black hole for charisma. I find her onscreen presence terribly unappealing, when not actively annoying. Also the audios? Baxendale’s voice vs McGann’s voice? That’s no sort of contest.

I’d’ve cast Alice Krige. To be fair, I’d always cast Alice Krige for everything, but, damn, she’d have been a stunning Eighth Doctor.

Seventh Doctor: Siobhan Redmond

A suggestion I’d never have thought of, but now it’s been mentioned sounds better and better the more I consider about it. Smashing actress, has a lot of easy authority, and she’s Scottish. I’m not sure how she’d work in Season 24, but 25 and 26? They’d be grand.

Sixth Doctor: Miriam Margoyles

Interesting. You can see a certain ‘Doctorish-ness’ about her as a person, one that I feel would make her perhaps a better Fourth Doctor, but I can see it working for the Sixth. She’s an awfully good actress and certainly has the presence and unable-to-ignore qualities that would be required for the Sixth Doctor. I can definitely see her doing the twelve ever-so-slightly different facial expression needed for the Trial of a Time Lord cliffhangers.

Fifth Doctor: Joanna Lumley

I LOVE THIS. I mean, Lumley has actually been the Doctor, and she was wonderful for all those few minutes. But this would be a much younger Lumley, one who could be perceived as quite vulnerable, but it’s so easy to see her taking on the mantle of a much older woman, since Sapphire and Steel exists. This, I think, would be another era I would end up loving more if it had been her in the role.

Fourth Doctor: Penelope Keith

Yeah, I just don’t see it. I very much enjoy Keith as an actress (and again, another actress I associate mostly with comedy, and another one I just don’t see working in the role), but while this doesn’t make me go “arg, no!” it does make me feel meh. It’s boring. She doesn’t have whatever magic thing it is that you have to have to make me believe that in a fantasy alternate casting list you could totally last seven years in a role and become an icon cause of it.

Third Doctor: Honor Blackman

*LOVE* It’s not exactly the most innovative choice but it is very much My Favourite. The idea makes me absurdly gleeful; the fact that it didn’t and can never happen, rather sad. The best part is you really wouldn’t need to change a thing. Blackman would work perfectly in the Third Doctor’s scenes as written. It is absurd how well she works. I mean, I’ve got the end of Claws of Axos playing in my head right now, and her “and I’m stuck here on Earth, with *you*, Brigadier” is perfection. She and Liz would just be stunning together. The affection and more maternal relationship with Jo would be quite adorable and with Sarah…it would be a much more interesting, pricklier relationship. When Sarah explodes about being asked to make coffee, there’s a whole other dynamic there, one that could be much more intriguing than Sarah being rightfully irritated at patriarchal assumptions. And whilst I love the Pertwee era, that’s mostly down to the entourage, not the Third Doctor himself. If it’d been Blackman in the role, I’d have been so, so much more forgiving of his tetchy foibles.

But what say you, readers?

4 thoughts on “Alternate Doctor Who Casting

  1. I’ve commented that Margolyes would make a better 4th Doctor elsewhere today. I think the Penelope Keith timing was mostly to work in The Good Life link, myself. I’d have maybe bumped Joanna Lumley up to the 6th. And had Felicity Kendal as the 5th, perhaps.

    1. Aye, I definitely think she’d make a better Four, but she still lacks the…whatever it is I feel embodies Fourness. I’m thinking about this far too much, but I’m determined to think of someone who works for me.

  2. Afraid I’m unfamiliar with the majority of these actresses, but as fun as this exercise is (and I am HUGELY in favor of a Time Lady at the console-and think they missed an excellent chance with the 11th/ Amy/ Rory dynamic) it irks me somewhat that the casting is based on the attributes of the male actors who played the Doctor originally.

    1. Fair comment. I suppose it’s easier to make and perhaps easier to connect to, building on what we have (I think it also makes a rather nice point that the Doctor written as is works played by a woman). But a more original take would be interesting too.

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