Why Neil Gaiman thinks Ian McKellan shouldn't be the next Doctor

Contributed by
Jun 6, 2013

With the floodgates open for speculation about who should be the 12th Doctor, occasional Who writer and awesome sci-fi author Neil Gaiman has a few thoughts on who shouldn’t take over the TARDIS.

[Spoilers ahead!]

On his list of bad ideas? Sir Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren and Chiwetel Ejiofor — plus any other famous person being rumored for the role. Gaiman wrote an excellent post about Matt Smith’s exit, and said he would prefer showrunner Steven Moffat seek out another mostly unknown actor for the role.

In his eyes, the Doctor works best when played by an actor whom fans can identify with the character, not with some previous film or television role they might’ve worked on. Give his Tumblr post a read below and let us know what you think:

“I think that if you’d asked me who should be the 11th Doctor 5 years ago I wouldn’t have listed Matt Smith, because I didn’t know who he was or what he was capable of, and if you’d asked me who should play Sherlock Holmes in a modern day revival around the same time I wouldn’t have said Benedict Cumberbatch, because I didn’t know who he was either.

I actually like it when The Doctor is a relatively unknown actor, or one without one huge role that made them famous. A star, like Sir Ian, brings all the other roles they’ve ever played to the table when they act. Seeing John Hurt as the (Spoiler) at the end of the Name of the Doctor, meant that this was a certain type of part with a certain amount of gravitas, and you understood that John Hurt was bringing everything with it (including being John Hurt), just as Derek Jacobi did as the Master. 

But 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. So I don’t want to see Helen Mirren or Sir Ian McKellen or Chiwetel Ejiofor, or any of the famous names people are suggesting.

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.”

Gaiman makes some good points, and has enough clout to possibly bend the ears of some folks at the BBC. So who would you like to see take over the Doctor’s mantle in the Christmas special?

(Via Neil Gaiman)

Make Your Inbox Important

Like Comic-Con. Except every week in your inbox.

Sign-up breaker