A Time Lord Wish List
Guest contributor Frank Cheeryble lists actors he would like to see as Time Lord characters.
With Peter Capaldi about to take his first steps into the TARDIS, new Doctor casting ideas are at their least relevant. But what about the others? Now The Day of the Doctor has aired, the return of the Time Lord society to modern-day Who has gone from fan speculation to an almost-certain development at some point in the next few years. So which actors and actresses out there today would make for great Time Lords, those characters with a Doctor-esque spirit but channelled in very different directions. The following list (presented in no particular order, I might add) compiles those people who I think would be incredible additions to the cast once Gallifrey is finally found, whether as nemeses or allies. Hopefully I can reach the end without mentioning the Master… (damn, too late.)
The Enemy: Claire Foy
You may know her from: Little Dorrit, Upstairs Downstairs, White Heat
When the notion of a female Doctor comes up, Claire is the first person that springs to my mind. One moment lost, the next moment fighting; the energies of her performances and range within individual parts are perfectly suited to our favourite Gallifreyan. Having said that, I think she may be an even better fit for a female adversary to the Doctor. Someone with an outer shell of steel resilience, but insecurities and backstory a-plenty underneath. See her glorious turn as Lady Persie in Upstairs Downstairs for how well she can play that one. Someone the Doctor just might be able to redeem, like the planet itself, but it won’t be an easy job. Lara Pulver (Robin Hood, Sherlock, Spooks) could also do a top job in the same department (so much so that I won’t repeat myself by giving her a separate entry here), but Ms Foy would be my number one pick.
The Saviour: David Suchet
You may know him as: Poirot
A small-screen legend for his recently concluded 25-year turn as Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective, it’s time for brother-of-that-ITV-newsreader David to show his worth elsewhere. Possessed of a much deeper and powerful voice than Monsieur Poirot displays, David would bring a superb air of authority to a Time Lord of high standing – someone who our first impressions of would suggest an imposing and threatening figure. I see him as someone who ultimately comes through for the Doctor, showing the kind heart within and helping lead the Time Lords back into the light. But that might be just because the man who played Poirot should never be evil. David would be able to pull off good or bad equally well, though, and I can picture him in full Gallifreyan getup more than anyone else on this list. He’s a must.
The Soldier: Andrew Scott
You may know him from: Sherlock, Blackout, Legacy
Someone who I was surprised wasn’t mentioned much at all as a potential Twelfth Doctor, Andrew of course grabbed everyone’s attention by the collar and gave it a good shake with his mesmerising performance as Moriarty in Sherlock. The psychopathic energy and otherworldliness is easy to see in this one, and I’ve long wanted to see him channel that into a good guy persona. It’s easy to see him as a front-line Time Warrior, haunted by the horrors he has seen but determined to save his people however he can. And just imagine his interaction with Capaldi’s Doctor…
The Mother: Indira Varma
You may know her from: Torchwood, Rome, Luther, By Any Means
I am a massive fan of Indira, ever since her duplicitous role as Suzie that drove forth Torchwood’s introductory episode. The common thread in the roles I’ve seen her in is that of someone struggling to hold their life together, and she’d be perfect casting as a single mother (father lost in the war?) fighting to protect her brood in the increasingly lawless Gallifrey. It’s been six years since she was in Torchwood, no one would mind would they? And as for her children…
The Daughter: Sinead Michael
You may know her from: The Sarah Jane Adventures
Bit of a cheat this one, as I’d like Sinead to appear for reasons other than her acting ability (not that there’s anything lacking there). She played Sky in the final series of SJA, but her character’s introduction was naturally overshadowed by Lis Sladen’s death; Sinead’s first three stories therefore suddenly became the last three ever to be made. Through no one’s fault, the excellent potential for her character was cut off before she’d really begun. So let’s put the Whoniverse to rights as much as possible, and show a glimpse of what could have become of young non-human Sky in an equally alien-but-human role as a Time Lord daughter. No more than a subtle nod, but I would welcome it.
The Renegade: Freddie Fox
You may know him from: The Shadow Line, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
My personal left-field choice for the Doctor before Mr Capaldi was announced, Billie Piper’s cousin-in-law Freddie has more than a touch of the alien about him. He makes a captivating if slightly disturbing screen presence, and I would love to see him as a young Time Lord making the wrong choices until the Doctor comes along. As I alluded to above, I envisage a post-war Gallifrey as descending into lawlessness and mob rule, and Freddie’s Time Lord would take full advantage of that. He would rob, pillage and betray to his heart’s content, but the Doctor could guide him into being the right sort of renegade and set him on a path to lead the Gallifreyan outlaws back into good.
The Weary: Denis Lawson
You may know him from: Star Wars, Bleak House, Just William, New Tricks
Silver fox Denis Lawson is to my mind the ultimate actor of a certain age, having come into his own in the last few years. Although he’s still got his fair share of sprightliness, somehow I see his Time Lord as being an old and weary figure: someone who has been present throughout the war, and just wants all the misery to be over with. Maybe he could hold the key to salvation for the Time Lords and Gallifrey, but needs to be convinced that it’s even worth the effort of trying. Another story of redemption waiting to be told, as a lot surely will be when returning to Gallifrey.
The Companion: Ellie Kendrick
You may know her from: The Diary of Anne Frank, Upstairs Downstairs, Being Human, Game of Thrones
Okay, I’ll confess: I mostly want Ellie to appear in Who because I am madly in love with her. But putting that aside, she’d still have a lot to offer to a Time Lord role. The narrative circularity of the Doctor departing Gallifrey with a young girl to mentor in his time-travelling ways is surely too good to resist, and Ellie does bear a passing resemblance to a certain Miss Foreman. It’s time for another Gallifreyan to see the stars, and time for the Doctor to pass on his legacy (particularly if Capaldi’s Doctor doesn’t have any natural regenerations left). I’m thinking Susan with less screaming and ankle-twisting and more independent ideas, basically. Who wouldn’t love to see that? Ellie has all the credentials to make such a role something incredible: scared but never showing it, resourceful but naïve, quirky yet relatable. I can’t think of anyone better to join team TARDIS.
Hopefully this has been more than just a list of actors I like, and it is clear why I think all those named above would be particularly stunning as Time Lords. So if you’re reading, Steven, feel free to nick any of these ideas – only you and I will ever know. To everyone else, feel free to stick your own Time Lord-related desires in the comments below!