Thursday, 6 June 2013

Should the 12th Doctor be played by someone we already know?

Who is this guy?  I have no idea!
Speculation is everywhere.  At this very moment you can guarantee that another celebrity is being touted as the next Doctor.  From Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity) to Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) and from Miranda Hart (Call the Midwife) to Paris Jackson (er...), we've been given plenty to choose from.  It's a crazy maelstrom of name-dropping and twitter self-nomination.

In the midst of all of this, award-winning author and writer of the equally award-winning Doctor Who episode, The Doctor's Wife (and the very slightly disappointing Nightmare in Silver), Neil Gaiman, was asked whether he would back Sir Ian McKellan (Oh come on!) in the role of the Twelfth Doctor.  He gave a very interesting reply over on his Tumblr.  It's well worth a read in its entirety, but here's the salient point:
I like to see The Doctor as The Doctor, and an actor who doesn't bring baggage is a grand sort of thing. A star waiting to happen. ... I want to see The Doctor. I want to be taken by surprise. I want to squint at a photo of the person online and go “but how can that be The Doctor?”. Then I want to be amazingly, delightedly, completely proven wrong, and, six episodes in, I want to wonder how I could have been so blind. Because this is the Doctor. Of course it is.
I'm inclined to agree.  Matt Smith is a very fine actor.  I think we're pretty much all agreed on that, however we feel about the Stephen Moffat era of Doctor Who in general.  Even so, one of the greatest things about his transition into the show was not his performance in itself, but the fact that he was a completely new face.  He was fresh out of the box (TARDIS?), so to speak and we had no idea what we might expect from him.  Consequently he has surprised us from the start.  That he goes on to surprise us is a sign of his talent and I'm sure any A-lister might be able to do as much, but there's something to be said for those first few episodes, when everything is unknown and we look at the screen and don't automatically think, 'Oh look, it's Miranda!', but instead see The Doctor in all his (or her) chaos, wisdom, hubris and glory.

John Hurt as...oh right, you can read.
As Gaiman points out, there is a place for the grand actor in Who.  He cites Derek Jacobi as the Master and John Hurt as, well, the Doctor, but both these reveals required a certain gravitas and having a big named actor helped to lend them that.  They were big, isolated events in and of themselves.  A new Doctor, however much an event his arrival will be, is an ongoing thing, and we don't want to have too fixed an impression right from the off.

How about you?  Would you like the next Doctor to have a fresh face, barely seen on screen before, or would you prefer to see someone established?  Has anyone suggested the Queen yet?  She's a fan, right?



Anonymous said...

Gaiman doesn't understand "Pull to Open".

so his opinions are spurious at best.

Chickenhead said...

Although my faith in Lord Moffat decreases by the day, I hope he does the right thing and utterly surprises everyone by bringing in another talented unknown, just like Matt (and Peter, and Tom). I hope he resists the urge to cater to the mindless masses crowing for a "female" Doctor.