Tag: opinion

Idris for Everything: Idris Elba as The Doctor

Contributed by
Jun 5, 2015

Oh, Idris. Is there anything this man CAN’T do? Short answer: No. Idris Elba is the best human, and why he's not an A-list movie star is beyond Blastr writer Cher Martinetti (yet -- like the sun -- she thinks Idris Elba's ascent is inevitable). In the interest of helping that process along, she would like to propose Idris Elba for the part of ... well, everything. This time, we're looking at one of the most discussed Idris roles: The Doctor in BBC's long-running Doctor Who.

When I shared that I would be writing this with my Blastr brethren, they were very concerned. After all, this is Doctor Who we are talking about, and its history spans longer than my actual existence on this planet. An established sci-fi juggernaut such as this has to be approached meticulously and with caution, or I’m likely to have legions of Whovians hating me till the end of my days, namely the ones I work with. So first a disclaimer: In no way will I be intentionally harming or enraging any Whovians reading this article. Pinky swear it.

The notion of Idris Elba as the Doctor isn’t that far-fetched; the actor was rumored to possibly have of been the anonymous black actor that writer Neil Gaiman said turned down the role as the Twelfth Doctor. Even if Idris did pass on the part, there’s no harm in listing why Elba as the Doctor would be nothing short of magnificent.

Time Lords can look like anyone

First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Or more specifically, put the kibosh on any objections in the comments section to Idris as the Doctor due to the color of his skin. There are black and mixed race Gallifreyans, as evidenced 2007's episode "The Sound of Drums," which gave us the first (and long overdue) televised black Time Lord, and in the book The Shadows of Avalon. It would be naive to think those are the only non-white Time Lords. Also, River Song is considered to be at least part Time Lord, despite her parents being human, because she was conceived inside an empty TARDIS -- and has the same regenerating powers as the Doctor. She began life as Melody Pond before she regenerated into Mels, a black female (shown below from the episode "Let's Kill Hitler"), and then regenerated again into the River we currently know. 

There is no rule as to what a Time Lord regenerates into. It can be male or female, any race, height, weight, etc. Pretty much anything and everything about the Time Lord can change aside from whatever personality traits had been previously instilled in them. So why wouldn't a Time Lord choose to come back as a 6'3", physically fit man, considering he is supposed to have superhuman stamina, the ability to absorb high amounts of radiation and electricity, and two hearts?

While the Doctor has always been white, there isn't anything central to the character or his story that requires him to stay white. Seeing as Time Lords are aliens that are essentially far more advanced as a species than we are, it's unlikely that they would have the same hang-ups about race and gender that we mere humans do.

Idris captures the essence of the Doctor

Moving past the non-issue of race, what truly defines the Doctor is his character, and many of those traits are very similar to two of Elba's most popular roles: John Luther, the protagonist on BBC's Luther, and Stringer Bell from The Wire.

The Doctor and Luther share their anti-gun stance, despite having been forced to use them at some point in their storylines. And both men are described as being troubled by incredibly dark aspects to their personas. The Doctor is a compassionate, albeit temperamental, pacifist who values life above all else, yet is still haunted by his own demons, ones that are presumably linked to his role in the Time War. At one point, companion Donna Noble tells the Tenth Doctor he needs someone to help keep him in check. Later, the Eleventh Doctor falls into a deep depression that results in his retirement after losing Amy and Rory. Similarly, Luther is plagued by the darkness he sees in humanity during his career investigating murderers. The detective is at times volatile, and even becomes suicidal after the death of his wife.

Though each Doctor has his own nuances, the core of who he is has remained largely the same, and according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, many fans have concluded that most versions of the Doctor tend to have the same personality, INTJ (introversionintuitionthinkingjudgment), as The Wire’s Stringer Bell. Granted, these are fictional characters and their personality types are little more than speculative based on who's labeling them, but it's not hard to draw the similarities between the characters. They're analytical, not incredibly social, intuitive, smart men who will find a way to accomplish whatever it is they've set out to do. A Stringer Bell/Luther hybrid as the Doctor would definitely work.

The bromance of all bromances

Last, but definitely not least, who wouldn’t want to see John Barrowman's Captain Jack and Idris Elba's Doctor banter on screen? The chemistry between these two would be palpable, and make for some funny, witty TV. Both of them have proven they've got the chops for comedy: Barrowman's been providing humor to Doctor Who for years, and Elba with his role on The Office and penchant for weird beatboxing videos.


Watching the resident omnisexual Captain Jack semi-flirt, taunt, and antagonize Elba as the Doctor is practically spin-off-worthy itself. They'd be the ultimate buddy-cop duo traversing space and time, and getting into all sorts of mischief. Playing these two off each other would not only be borderline hilarious, but would probably end up inspiring some serious slash fiction in the process.

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