Skip to main content

Doctor Who's 14th Doctor: we know who'll replace Jodie Whittaker

14th Doctor Ncuti Gatwa, photographed at the Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards on May 8, 2022.
Ncuti Gatwa is the 14th Doctor. (Image credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

Who will be the 14th Doctor in Doctor Who? That's the one question that every Whovian has had on their minds ever since we found out Jodie Whittaker's time in the TARDIS was coming to an end. It was basically the only thing we had to entertain ourselves with whilst we were waiting for  the three Doctor Who specials to air.

In May, we finally got our answer, as the BBC officially confirmed (after a cryptic clue from returning showrunner, Russell T. Davies) that Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa had been cast as the 14th Doctor.

Sadly, this announcement meant that none of our predictions came true, although we were almost there with Rakhee Thakrar, who just so happens to be a Sex Education castmate of the new Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa.

Even though we know none of our guesses were correct, we've kept them all here so you can see some of the many potential Doctors who were thought to be in the mix at one time or another. 

Top Doctor Who casting rumours

Prior to the reveal, rumors included the fact that Hugh Grant was reported to be 'in talks' to feature in Doctor Who, though the Love Actually star quickly denied these claims on social media, tweeting: “Nothing against DR W but I’m not. No idea where the story came from.” 

Hugh Grant's rumored involvement came shortly after some fans suggested that former Doctor David Tennant would be making a big return to the show alongside returning Doctor Who showrunner, Russell T. Davies

David Tennant during the 2020 BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief Big Night In.

Could David Tennant be returning to Doctor Who? (Image credit: Comic Relief via Getty Images)

The big twist with Tennant's theoretical casting was that he would not be playing the Tenth Doctor again, but a completely new incarnation that just looked and sounded like one of their former selves. As it turned out, he was actually set to make a return to Doctor Who, as David Tennant is coming back for the 60th anniversary Doctor Who special alongside his former companion, Donna Noble (Catherine Tate).

Another common suggestion was Olly Alexander, who was arguably the most popular actor to come up in Doctor Who casting rumors throughout 2021. 

Olly Alexander

Olly Alexander. (Image credit: Debbie Hickey/Getty Images)

Like Hugh Grant, Olly denied any involvement in the show. Whilst speaking to the Press Association in late 2021, Alexander said "I'm definitely not going to be the Doctor but it's going to be so amazing, Russell's Doctor. I mean, it was before, and it will be again, and it has been great. So I'm excited to watch the show because I'm a fan."

This Is Going to Hurt star Ben Whishaw was another popular actor who ruled himself out of the race. When he appeared on Lorraine earlier in the year, he did his best to quash any rumors, stating: "I’m definitely not Doctor Who. I haven’t auditioned for Doctor Who."

They were far from the only actors we thought could have been the 14th Doctor, though; here are just a few of the other top names who we believed were in the mix!

Actors who were rumored to be in the running to play the 14th Doctor...

Rakhee Thakrar

Rakhee Thakrar and Jim Howick in Sex Education season 3.

Rakhee Thakrar (left) and Jim Howick in Sex Education. (Image credit: Netflix/ Sam Taylor)

Sex Education star Rakhee Thakrar gained some traction amongst fans and bookies as a potential Doctor just before her co-star Ncuti was confirmed for the role. 

If you don't recognize her as Moordale Secondary's Miss Sands from the Netflix comedy-drama, you probably know Rakhee for having played Shabnam Masood on EastEnders

Like some of the other faces on this list, she's already been involved in the Whoniverse before. Rakhee plays Bliss in Big Finish's Time War Doctor Who audio drama, who is a companion to the eighth Doctor, Paul McGann.

Lydia West

Doctor Who 14th Doctor - Lydia West

Lydia West. (Image credit: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Lydia West shone in Russell T. Davies' hit drama It's A Sin as Jill Baxter, a compassionate roommate to the other residents of the Pink Palace. 

She grew to be a very popular suggestion for the Doctor's replacement in the latter part of 2021; UK bookmakers even briefly suspended bets on who the next Doctor Who would be in early October due to the number of people guessing she would be the next star of the show. 

Jodie Whittaker herself has claimed that she'd love to see Lydia take on the role after she leaves Doctor Who. During a game of "Kids Ask" on BBC Radio 1 on Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021, Jodie said: "I’m going to pick an actress who I think is really exciting and I think would be phenomenal, an actress called Lydia West. If I had the power!”

In February 2022, Lydia again became a real favorite for the 14th Doctor, so there was clearly plenty of interest from people who'd like to see her take the helm even though she's not next in line. 

Omari Douglas

Omari Douglas attending the 24th GQ Men of the Year Awards in London, September 2021

Omari Douglas. (Image credit: Dave Benett/Getty Images for Hugo Boss UK)

Omari Douglas was the third It's A Sin star thought to be up for consideration for the role. In early November 2021, The Sun (opens in new tab) reported that he was the new frontrunner for the role and that a TV insider had called Omari "the perfect candidate on so many levels".

Outside of playing Roscoe Babatunde in It's A Sin, Douglas has appeared in Wise Children and Midas Man. He also starred in Constellations opposite Russell Tovey at London's Vaudeville Theatre earlier in 2021.

Even Omari's It's A Sin co-star, Olly Alexander, suggested he would make a good fit for the role; could he be up for consideration in the future?

Michael Sheen 

Michael Sheen

Michael Sheen. (Image credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Champagne Collet)

Michael Sheen was thought to be another frontrunner for the role. He came first in a RadioTimes.com poll viewers' choice poll for the 14th Doctor in 2021, and it's easy to see why so many think he'd make a good Doctor. 

One potential issue here is that Michael Sheen has technically already appeared in modern Doctor Who. He was the voice behind the evil entity named House, a being that fed on TARDIS energy which appeared in Series 6 of the revived series. 

Being involved in the show didn't stop Peter Capaldi from being the Doctor, though, so it could leave the door open for Michael Sheen, too!

Danny Dyer

Danny Dyer as Mick Carter in EastEnders

Danny Dyer as EastEnders character Mick Carter. (Image credit: BBC / Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes)

One of the wildest Doctor Who rumors was the idea that EastEnders favorite, Danny Dyer, was once thought to be in the running to play the 14th Doctor.

His departure from the legendary soap was confirmed by the BBC on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, and is set to take place later this year. When the news first broke, it was reported that Danny Dyer was leaving EastEnders to pursue new roles (according to The Daily Mail (opens in new tab)). 

This led some fans to suggest that the Walford legend could be taking time out to try and become the next person in charge of the TARDIS.

T'Nia Miller

14th Doctor - T'Nia Miller

T'Nia Miller. (Image credit: Dave Benett/Getty Images)

T'Nia Miller is an actor best known for starring in The Haunting of Bly Manor, Years and Years, Witless and was recently in sci-fi epic Foundation on Apple TV+.

The potential stumbling block here is that T'Nia Miller already has a connection to the Whoniverse (stronger than Michael Sheen); she's already played a different Time Lord in the show's past. 

She appeared in the series 9 episode "Hell Ben", playing the twelfth regeneration of The General after Peter Capaldi's Doctor shot her previous incarnation. 

Jo Martin

Jo Martin in Doctor Who

Jo Martin as the Doctor in 'Doctor Who' season 12. (Image credit: BBC)

Doctor Who season 12 really shook up the show's canon. Along with the reveal that the Doctor was the Timeless Child, there was the appearance of Jo Martin as the Fugitive Doctor. 

The Fugitive Doctor was a previous regeneration that the current Doctor had no memory of. As it turned out, the Doctor was once a member of the mysterious Time Lord group, The Division before escaping from the organization (and becoming the "Fugitive Doctor"); the Gallifreyan, Gat, and a platoon of Judoon were dispatched to recapture her. This incarnation cropped up again at the end of the season when Jodie's Doctor had learned her memories of her past had been taken away from her by Division.

Doctor Who: Flux saw Jo Martin briefly returning to the show as the Fugitive Doctor, and her character is still a big presence in Doctor Who media outside of the series; although she's not the next mainline Doctor, it is possible that Jo Martin could make another return in the future.

Michaela Coel 

Michaela Coel

Michaela Coel. (Image credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Michaela Coel was thought to be one of the popular candidates for the role if the BBC wanted to have another woman at the helm as the 14th Doctor.

Alongside her theatre career, Michaela is best-known for creating and starring in the E4 series Chewing Gum as well as the BAFTA-winning BBC comedy-drama I May Destroy You, which is regarded as one of the best BBC dramas in recent years. She also starred in Hugo Blick's drama Black Earth Rising and in two episodes of Black Mirror. 

Rhys Ifans

14th Doctor - Rhys Ifans

Rhys Ifans. (Image credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage via Getty)

Welsh actor Rhys Ifans' name entered the mix when former Doctor Matt Smith suggested he would be a great fit for the show. 

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab) about Last Night in Soho, Matt said: "You know who I think would be a brilliant Doctor Who … Rhys Ifans. Rhys would be sort of cool. I don’t know if we’ve had a Welshman yet. I’m backing Rhys!"

Whilst he's not our next Doctor, Rhys Ifans is due back on our screens in a big way, as he's playing Otto Hightower in the Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon.

Richard Ayoade 

Richard Ayoade

Richard Ayoade. (Image credit: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Best known for his role as socially awkward nerd Maurice Moss in The IT Crowd and as the presenter for the modern revival of The Crystal Maze, Richard Ayoade is a truly unique character. 

He’s known for off-beat, quirky humor and his endless wit whenever he appears on British panel shows, and this personality could have translated perfectly to the Doctor, especially as an extension of the 13th Doctor’s stranger side.

Lennie James

Lennie James attends the 'Fear The Walking Dead' panel at San Diego Comic Con in 2019

Lennie James at the Fear The Walking Dead panel at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019. (Image credit: Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

Fear The Walking Dead and former Line of Duty star Lennie James might not be put forward as often as some of the other names on this list, but his FTWD co-star Anjli Mohindra told Digital Spy (opens in new tab) that she thought Lennie would do a great job if he was to become the next Time Lord.

Mohindra said: "I actually think that Lennie James would be absolutely incredible. I don't know if a lot of people have thought of him but I think he'd be really cool", though she also supported the fan-favorite idea of Lydia West taking over and suggested Vinette Robinson would also make a great Doctor.

Lucy Lawless

Lucy Lawless

Lucy Lawless in 2019. (Image credit: Jason Mendez/Getty Images)

Unlike some of the other actors on this list, New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless actually threw her own name into the mix for Doctor Who

In an interview with Newsweek (opens in new tab), the Xena: Warrior Princess and Battlestar Galactica star spoke about how much she loves fantasy and sci-fi and shared that she would really love to play the Doctor. This led quite a few fans to voice their support for Lucy on social media.

Although she didn't exactly share why, Lucy added that she loves roles that have a comedic edge to them, explaining "it [humor] just helps get through the day. Comedy is always a lovely way of working."

Vicky McClure

Vicky McClure

Vicky McClure. (Image credit: Getty)

Vicky McClure made waves over the last decade as DI Kate Fleming in Line of Duty, but she's also appeared in shows like Broadchurch, This is England and The Secret Agent. 

Kate always fought to get justice for those in need and it's not hard to see how Vicky's experience with AC-12 could have helped her fight aliens as the Doctor. After all, chasing down bent coppers is surely perfect training for chasing down rogue Time Lords like The Master.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Phoebe Waller-Bridge. (Image credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Champagne Collet)

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's career has gone from strength to strength in recent years. She is best known for creating and starring in Fleabag but is also responsible for the first season of Killing Eve and the 2016 Channel 4 comedy mini-series, Crashing.  

With experience in both comedy and drama, Phoebe Waller-Bridge could have been a perfect Doctor, capable of both light-hearted madness and dealing with the more serious moments in the show, too.

Kris Marshall

Kris Marshall

Kris Marshall. (Image credit: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)

Given Kris was previously rumored to be in the running for the 12th Doctor but missed out to Peter Capaldi, it was definitely a possibility that he was up for consideration for the 14th, too.

Kris is best known for his role as Nick Harper in the BBC sitcom My Family and as DI Humphrey Goodman in Death in Paradise, although you might also recognize him from a series of BT ads.

More recently, he played Tom Parker in ITV’s Jane Austen adaptation, Sanditon.

Kelly Macdonald

Kelly Macdonald

Kelly Macdonald. (Image credit: Ernesto Di Stefano Photography/WireImage)

Vicky McClure isn't the only Line of Duty star that some fans thought could be in the running to be the next Doctor!

Kelly Macdonald is best known for playing DCI Jo Davidson in Line of Duty season 6. However, she's had plenty of other roles outside of being a dodgy detective.

Macdonald has appeared in Trainspotting and the sequel T2 as well as playing Rowena Ravenclaw in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and voicing Princess Merida in Brave.

Matt Berry

Matt Berry and Natasia Demetriou

What We Do In the Shadows stars Matt Berry and Natasia Demetriou. (Image credit: LISA O'CONNOR/AFP via Getty Images)

Matt Berry has appeared in a range of British comedy series like The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh, and Toast of London. More recently, he's played a lead role in the FX series comedy-horror series What We Do In the Shadows. 

Many of Matt's big roles have seen him playing blustering, larger-than-life characters, and the Doctor would have been quite a different role compared to some of his work. Having brought Steven Toast back to our screens in Toast of Tinseltown, we thought it possible that he might be interested in changing tact somewhat and playing the Doctor. 

Doctor Who returns later this autumn for Jodie Whittaker's final outing as the 13th Doctor.

Martin Shore
Staff Writer at WhatToWatch.com

Martin is a Staff Writer with WhatToWatch.com, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows. 

Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.