10 Misused Actors in Doctor Who
Guest contributor Ed Goundrey-Smith picks out ten actors who deserved better.
Over the years there have been many actors who have played supporting cast members and had cameos in the show. Many of these actors and actresses have done a great job at keeping the story flowing well and are interesting to watch alongside our main cast members, whoever they may be playing. However despite this, there have been several fantastic actors and actresses who have come on the show to play a guest character, haven’t been used properly, used to their full potential or have appeared in episodes that weren’t amazing, to put it nicely. So here is my grand and bountiful list of ten supporting actors who haven’t been used properly or were only used only for cameos, and ways that they could be reused in.
Note: before we begin, the majority of these actors have appeared in New Who, purely because I haven’t seen a lot of classic episodes, I don’t know the actors very well and many are either retired or have sadly passed away. In no particular order…
Sir Ian McKellen
Ah, our old friend, Sir Ian McKellen, who we probably all know best from playing the iconic character Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. In Doctor Who he was the voice of the Great Intelligence in The Snowmen. I thought that his deep, commanding voice suited the Great Intelligence perfectly, but I feel that an actor as talented Sir McKellen shouldn’t have been used just to voice a character, and instead have been used at some point as a character like a renegade Time Lord. As I said, he has a rather commanding manner that could be utilised by such a character.
Okay, before I go any further, I would just like to point out that I have realised that Benton has played a couple of characters in Big Finish before. Anyway, I must admit, it was only on my most recent watch of Rose that I discovered that Mark Benton played Clive, the conspiracy theorist obsessed with the Doctor. I think that Benton is often related to playing more comedic roles, and I fear that may be linked slightly to his size, but I think that he could be used to play a villain. I imagine him as the ‘evil businessman’ kind of villain, like the Editor from The Long Game.
Ah, Olivia Coleman, who played ‘Mother/Prisoner Zero’ in Doctor Who. Colman is one of my favourite actresses, simply because of her diversity. She could play at being villain, heroine, companion, comic foil or anything. She did a cracking job at playing the slippery Prisoner Zero, (Well, playing the mother disguised as Prisoner Zero) giving what I thought was quite an eerie performance, but I would like to see her in a bigger role. I think she could play a villain, a big part of Capaldi’s era. If we were given a story arc for his first series, I would love to see her playing the ‘big bad’. Maybe not even a villain, I can see her in a ‘base under siege’ story, as a captain or commander of the base under attack. As an actress she clearly has the power to play an authoritative and ruthless leader.
John Cleese played the very minor role of ‘Art Gallery Visitor’ in 1979’s City of Death. He is usually known for his comedic roles, because of classics such as Monty Python and Fawlty Towers. He also played Q in several of the James Bond films. His humorous style of acting would be interesting to see in an episode where he has a bigger role. I want to see him as a supporting companion character, like Canton from The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon. I feel with the correct style of writing he would bounce off Capaldi very well, with Cleese’s character taking a much more relaxed and funny attitude to the problem they are trying to solve, while Capaldi is being this ‘roaring monster’ of a man we’re apparently going to be getting, it would be an ‘opposites attract’ kind of chemistry.
Crosbie played Mrs Angelo in The Eleventh Hour, the old lady who was having trouble with her TV when the Atraxi was communicating through it. I grin whenever I watch her scenes in that episode, she pulls it off perfectly. I would love to see her return and I can picture her in a historical. We haven’t seen much of the Georgian era in Doctor Who, and I can imagine her dressed in the finery only an upper class member of society from that time would wear. She would fit like a glove in to a story set in the early 1900s I think, pre-World War I, again, playing an upper class aristocrat character.
Emma Campbell-Jones played Cass in the minisode, The Night of the Doctor, and also Doctor Kent in The Wedding of River Song. She has proved that she certainly deserves another appearance, especially in The Night of the Doctor, in which she was fantastic for her all too brief time onscreen. I think she could actually become the next companion, she’s got the ability to act out all the different aspects and qualities of a companion, the feistiness, the compassion and the ability to be that vulnerable young woman who needs saving, she’s basically got the full package.
The reason why Bonneville is on this list is because the episode he was in wasn’t good, and I think that an actor of Bonneville’s capabilities deserves better. We’ve seen him in a historical as Captain Avery, where he was the highlight of the story. He’s often seen in commanding roles, as he was in Doctor Who. It could be interesting seeing him in a role where he isn’t in charge, and he perhaps takes a role similar to that of David Warner (Professor Grisenko in Cold War). Either that or we could see him in his forte, doing what he does best, and commanding, being in charge.
Karen Gledhill played Alison in the 1988 story, Remembrance of the Daleks. Yes, I know that she reprised her character for many Big Finish appearances, but I think that the actress had more potential. Like Emma Campbell-Jones, when I watch her the first thing I think is ‘companion’ however, that was back in 1988. I think now she would be much more suited to a role similar to Kate Stewart, a ‘female in command’ type of figure.
Back in 2007, Garfield, aka the current Spider-Man, played Frank in Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks, which in my opinion are two brilliant and underrated episodes, but in the wider community they are often viewed as terrible, in a word. Regardless, Frank was a brilliantly written character and a pleasure to watch. I think Garfield is a decent actor, and should return in another role similar to Frank, as a ‘guest companion’. I would even be interested in him returning to play a permanent companion. Various male companions in the show before have played the Doctor’s best friend, and I think Garfield could do the same thing, especially as Garfield is currently 30, and Peter Capaldi is 55. I think the age difference (in real life and in the show) means that the two would bounce off each other, having different opinions on everything, providing several humorous moments. A situation could crop up where the Doctor is faced with the dilemma of having to, say, stop a certain species of alien from doing something, and the only way is to kill them all. What would the Twelfth Doctor do, and how would it compare to what Garfield’s character would do?
This one doesn’t quite fit under the category of supporting actor – he was the star in his episode. Like Hugh Bonneville, the reason Marc Warren is on this list is because the episode he was in wasn’t very good. It certainly wasn’t the worst episode of Doctor Who (I think the episode that follows it is awarded that title), but it wasn’t good either. The two greatest things about the episode are Marc Warren as Elton and Camille Coduri as Jackie. Warren plays the character so accurately, he creates a perfect, single, and normal middle aged bloke. Marc can take the character he plays and run with it, often creating a very real representation of what they would be like in real life. I only have one problem with him, and that is finding a character he could return as. Love and Monsters left such a mark on everyone’s mind, an episode in which he played main character, so it would be hard for us, as viewers, to let Zygons be Zygons (that was good) and move on, pretending that he was a completely different character. He could return as the same character, but I doubt that having Mr Pope return again would be beneficial for an episode. However, he is a great actor and has great potential.
So, there was my ‘grand and bountiful’ list of 10, thanks for reading, and if you agree, disagree or want to list your own, mention it in the comments.