The Doctor, up to this point, has been a man who travels through time and space in search of adventure, setting right many wrongs, saving civilizations, and generally destroying creepy alien baddies with the help of his trusted Sonic Screwdriver… er, companions. Yes, I mean companions and Sonic Screwdriver.
Doctor Who has been broadcast for over 50 years and has, until more recently, been solely enjoyed by the Brits. Such a longstanding broadcast has caused the show to weave itself into the fabric of British pop culture, and the growing popularity of the new series has begun to have the same effect in North America. That being said, the Doctor has long been a very desirable role for actors to play. So let’s stop for a moment and consider how well the last few actors have been able to play the Doctor.
Below is a ranking of the most recent actors who have attempted to play the Doctor, some more successfully than others, since the series revival in 2005.
5. Matt Smith (11)
Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor was a complete goofball and emotional wreck. His deep emotional connection to his companions shifted the show away from a space adventure and turned it more into a soap opera with time travel and aliens. Although we can agree that David Tennant’s Doctor really introduced the idea of the “boyfriend” Doctor to the series, through his relationship with his companion Rose, it was, in fact, Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor that really embodied this trend, ad nauseam, for his three season run. Although the 11th Doctor was at times endearing, he lost his connection with the foreign (his alien origins) and with it most of what makes the Doctor the Doctor.
4. John Hurt (The War Doctor)
John Hurt became the face of the mysterious War Doctor, the man responsible for ending the Time War and traditionally the least liked “Doctor” amongst the other regenerations. Hurt added some levity and heart to his Doctor which, in the end, allowed him to be redeemed. Hurt’s War Doctor was able to break up the campiness of 11 and really made way for the new (return to traditional Who) mentality that the 12th Doctor embodies.
3. David Tennant (10)
David Tennant made the 10th Doctor more relatable because he was able to balance the human and alien aspects of the Doctor’s personality. The 10th Doctor introduced the idea that he was a white knight, an ideal boyfriend who would swoop in and rescue you from your life, show you amazing and strange things, and, on top of it all, love you. Overall, Tennant played a believable, relatable, and lovable Doctor.
2. Christopher Eccleston (9)
Eccleston’s leather-clad Doctor was the first new series Doctor. Nine is often seen as the more bare bones Doctor because he has been almost completely stripped of the frivolities and the eccentricities of previous and later regenerations of the Doctor. In this simplicity we get to see the depth of the Doctor, but also the danger bound simply to his existence. We get to see the face behind the mask, we get to see the Doctor’s soul. He’s to the point, matter of fact and in this way terrifying, but his relationship with Rose and self-sacrificing kiss lets us know he has a heart. Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor is bigger on the inside.
1. Peter Capaldi (12)
Capaldi’s 12th Doctor is a return to original Who. The 12th Doctor is a little kooky, a little reserved, and all style. Maturity, class, and stepping away from the “Doctor as a boyfriend” has really given 12 some serious street cred. He’s a reminder that the Doctor is an alien and not a human; Capaldi brilliantly uses humor to remind us of that fact. Overall, 12 is a refreshing reminder of Who‘s past and an exciting icon of its future.