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The 13 actors who played the Doctor before Ncuti Gatwa


Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker is preparing to hand over the role of the Time Lord to Ncuti Gatwa, the 14th actor to play the part.

Here are stars who have previously played the role.

– William Hartnell (1963-66)

Television – BBC – Doctor Who – William Hartnell
William Hartnell pictured with actress Carole Ann Ford who played Doctor Who’s original companion Susan Foreman (PA)

Hartnell played the role of the Doctor for three years until 1966. He was the oldest actor, aged 55, to play the starring role.

During a long career, Hartnell made many stage and television appearances and featured in more than 75 British films.

Hartnell’s time on Doctor Who saw the first meetings with the Daleks and the Cybermen, two of Doctor Who’s most famous recurring enemies.

The First Doctor’s final regular appearance was in the episode The Tenth Planet, where he collapsed after defeating the Cybermen and began to regenerate.

Television – BBC – Doctor Who – Patrick Troughton
Patrick Troughton (PA)

– Patrick Troughton (1966-69)

Actor Patrick Troughton took over as the Second Doctor after Hartnell had to leave due to poor health. He played the role until 1969 and featured in 119 episodes.

Troughton – an experienced stage, TV and film character actor – created a character very different to his predecessor, a deliberate shift which was aimed at making audiences accept the change of actor more readily and Hartnell was said to approve of the casting.

The BBC’s Doctor Who website described the Second Doctor as having “a more playful, whimsical air”.

Television – Doctor Who – Jon Pertwee
Jon Pertwee (PA)

– Jon Pertwee (1970-74)

John Pertwee portrayed the Third Doctor until 1974 as “confident, bold and brash, but with a soft paternal side”, according to the BBC.

The actor, who was keen to win the role, had extensive TV and film experience and went on the star in the hugely popular TV series Worzel Gummidge.

While previous Doctors’ stories had all involved time and space travel, Pertwee’s stories initially depicted the Doctor stranded on Earth in exile.

Tom Baker Ark In Space
Tom Baker (PA)

– Tom Baker (1974-81)

Baker portrayed the character for seven consecutive seasons, the longest any actor has played the role, and this was when the show experienced its highest viewing figures.

Born in Liverpool, Baker was not academic and said his Catholic family were delighted when aged 15 he joined a religious order.

The actor’s website said he became disillusioned with monastic life and left aged 21.

He serviced with the Royal Army Medical Corps for his national service and then discovered acting which became his career.

Premiere – The League of Gentlemen Apocalypse – UK Premiere – Vue Cinema Leicester Square
Peter Davison (PA)

– Peter Davison (1982-84)

By the time Davison became the Fifth Doctor, he was already known as Tristan Farnon in comedy drama series All Creatures Great And Small.

His successful career continued after Doctor Who with hit shows like A Very Peculiar Practice and At Home With The Braithwaites.

Davidson, 71, from Streatham, south London, was more recently seen as William Priestley in Gentleman Jack and the vicar in The Larkins.

Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebration – London
Former Doctor Who actors Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Matt Smith at the Doctor Who Official 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Excel Centre, in east London (PA)

– Colin Baker (1984-86)

Baker’s Sixth Doctor was described by the BBC’s official website as “passionate, quick to anger… a Doctor you did not want to make enemies with”.

The actor, born in a hospital in Waterloo, London, during an air raid, moved to Rochdale in Lancashire as a young boy.

He later studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and starred in TV drama The Brothers.

He appeared as Commander Maxil in the 1983 Doctor Who episode Arc Of Infinity before landing the lead role.

Baker, now 78, recently appeared an in episode of Emmerdale.

Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebration – London
Former Doctor Who actors Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker at the Doctor Who Official 50th Celebration (PA)

– Sylvester McCoy (1987-89)

The Seventh Doctor was played by Sylvester McCoy and first appeared on TV in 1987.

McCoy, now 78, was well known for being a Scottish actor and physical comedian.

After the programme was cancelled at the end of 1989, the Seventh Doctor’s adventures continued in novels until the late 1990s.

McCoy went on to play Radagast in The Hobbit trilogy of films.

– Paul McGann (1996)

The Seventh Doctor made an appearance at the start of the franchise’s 1996 movie before the character was replaced by the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann).

McGann bridged the gap between the end of the original series in 1989 and the beginning of the new series in 2005.

Despite being the Doctor for nine years, McGann had less screen time than any other starring actor.

While the Eighth Doctor initially had only one on-screen appearance, his adventures were portrayed extensively in subsequent spin-offs.

In 2013, the actor reprised the role in the mini-episode The Night Of The Doctor, which depicts the Eighth Doctor’s final adventure and his regeneration into the War Doctor (played by John Hurt).

McGann, now 62, was born in Liverpool, and is the brother of fellow actors Stephen McGann, Mark McGann and Joe McGann.

He starred in 1987 film Withnail And I and recently appeared in the Hillsborough drama Anne about campaigner Anne Williams.

– Christopher Eccleston (2005)

Christopher Eccleston assumed the role of the Ninth Doctor during the first series of the show’s revival in 2005.

Eccleston’s Doctor was a war-torn loner who disguises his trauma behind “madcap wit and frivolity”, the BBC said.

Eccleston was a well known actor who had appeared in TV dramas Our Friends In The North and Hillsborough when he joined Doctor Who.

He was more recently seen as Maurice Scott in The A Word, a TV drama about a boy with autism and his family.

Good Omens premiere – London
David Tennant (PA)

– David Tennant (2005-2010)

David Tennant picked up the role of the 10th Doctor between 2005 and 2010, and is seen as one of the most popular incarnations of the character.

Tennant’s portrayal of the Doctor is described by the BBC as “excitable, enthusiastic and victorious”.

Tennant has appeared in TV series Casanova and played Barty Crouch Jr in Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire.

He recently played serial killed Dennis Nilsen in the acclaimed drama Des.

Last Night in Soho premiere – BFI London Film Festival 2021
Matt Smith played the role of the Eleventh Doctor from 2010-13 (PA)

– Matt Smith (2010-2013)

The 11th Doctor was played by Matt Smith between 2010 and 2013.

He was the last Doctor to appear alongside the long-serving companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) prior to the actress’ death.

Smith, now 39, from Northampton, went on to play the Duke of Edinburgh in The Crown.

Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition Preview Party 2019 – London
Peter Capaldi (PA)

– Peter Capaldi (2014-17)

Capaldi, the 12th Doctor, was the final character to take up the role before Whittaker before the first female doctor.

The Scottish actor is also well known for playing Malcolm Tucker in political comedy The Thick Of It.

Capaldi, now 64, is also a director, writer and musician.

Doctor Who Photocall – London
Jodie Whittaker (PA)

– Jodie Whittaker (2017-2022)

Whittaker was best known for starring as Beth Latimer, the mother of murdered Danny Latimer, in Broadchurch when she became the first female to take the lead role in Doctor Who.

Born in June 1982 in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, Whittaker completed a Btec in performing arts before attending Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

She left drama school in 2005 for a part in Storm at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, and subsequently won her first film role in Venus (2006) alongside Peter O’Toole.

Whittaker is a huge cricket fan and her father was formerly president of Huddersfield Cricket League.

Sex Education Season Two World Premiere – London
Ncuti Gatwa (PA)

– Ncuti Gatwa (2022-)

Born in Rwanda before moving to Scotland, where he was raised, Gatwa, now 29, began his career as an extra on the 2014 sitcom Bob Servant.

In 2016, he played Demetrius in a production of A Midsummer’s Nights Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe.

His big break came when he was cast in Netflix show Sex Education as Eric Effiong, a young gay British-Nigerian who is best friends with Otis, the show’s lead character.

Writing in The Big Issue in May 2020, he said he ended up homeless after running out of savings in the months before he landed his role in Sex Education and had developed depression.