Doctor Who bosses are reportedly hoping to cast an actor of colour as Jodie Whittaker’s replacement, which would be another first for the hit show.
The actress, 39, who has been the sci-fi series’ first ever female Doctor, confirmed on Thursday that she is set to step down from the leading role after three seasons.
The show has faced plummeting ratings and audience complaints in recent years about becoming over-politicised, with episodes featuring moments in history – including the US Civil War movement and the 1947 partition of India.
And it is now thought that BBC execs are looking to take a ‘step forward for diversity’ in whoever they pick to hand the Tardis keys over to – with Michaela Coel, 33, Nabhaan Rizwan, 24, and Priyanga Burford, 36, all tipped for the role.
‘It would be a momentous decision’: Doctor Who bosses are reportedly hoping to cast an actor of colour for the first time as Jodie Whittaker’s replacement on the show
A source told The Sun that the Doctor Who team have always thought of the show as ‘progressive’ and casting a person of colour would ‘cement’ that.
They said: ‘It would be a momentous decision, particularly as in 2023 as the series celebrates its 60th anniversary.
‘Producers now care less about the age or gender of whoever takes on the part than they do about this move — which would be real step forward for diversity.’
MailOnline has contacted the BBC, Michaela, Nabhaan and Priyanga’s representatives for further a comment.
In the running? Michaela Coel, 33, (pictured in June) Nabhaan Rizwan, 24, and Priyanga Burford, 36, are all thought to be tipped for the role
Michaela, who is also a bookies favourite, is perhaps best known for her BBC series I Will Destroy You which she starred in, wrote, co-directed, and executive produced.
While star Nabhaan has previously appeared in BBC shows Informer and Industry and is currently performing with Emma Corrin in stage show Anna X.
Actress Priyanga Burford is another name reportedly in the running as the new Doctor, with her previously having a role in ITV thriller Innocent.
Stepping in? Priyanga, who has previously appeared in ITV thriller Innocent, is thought to be among the names being considered by BBC execs as they cast a new Doctor (pictured in 2019)
Next gig lined up? Nabhaan has previously starred in BBC shows Informer and Industry and is currently performing with Emma Corrin (pictured in July) in stage show Anna X, is also tipped
When reports of Jodie’s exit started to swirl back in January, many fans called for Jo Martin’s iteration of the character to become the 14th Time Lord, with the Holby City star previously appearing in two episodes of season 12 alongside Jodie.
At the time, Jo became the first black Time Lord and played an unknown Doctor, leaving viewers to claim this meant she would be an ‘obvious’ successor for the part.
Jo’s Doctor revealed her identity in Fugitive Of The Judoon after previously going by the name Ruth Clayton, and she appeared to be a former unknown iteration of the character; she also appeared in The Timeless Children.
Showrunner Chris Chibnall, who is also leaving alongside Jodie, shared his support for Jo’s version of the Doctor when she appeared onscreen in April last year.
Leaving: Jodie, 39, who has been the sci-fi series’ first ever female Doctor, confirmed on Thursday that she is set to step down from the leading role after three series (pictured 2019)
Could it be? Doctor Who fans previously claimed Jo Martin’s iteration of the character should return as the 14th Time Lord as she is an ‘obvious’ successor to Jodie (pictured in series 12)
He said: ‘The important thing to say is – she is definitively the Doctor, there’s not a sort of parallel universe going on, there are no tricks.
‘Jo Martin is the Doctor, that’s why we gave her the credit at the end which all new Doctors have the first time you see them.’
Chris went on to claim that Jo’s inclusion in the twelfth series was ‘very deliberate’, and added: ‘But as ever with Doctor Who, answers often reveal new questions.’
Jodie described her four-year stint manning the Tardis as being ‘the best job I ever had’ in a statement released on Thursday.
Jodie will first appear in the thirteenth season of Doctor Who – set to air later this year – and then in the first special, tipped to hit screens on New Year’s Day 2022.
Who is odds-on to replace Jodie as Doctor Who?
According to Ladbrokes.co.uk, these are the favourites to succeed Jodie into the Tardis…
OLLY ALEXANDER – 3/1
The It’s A Sin actor and Years And Years hitmaker, 30, has already said he’d love to take over the Tardis.
KRIS MARSHALL – 6/1
Kris, 47, was widely rumoured to be the 13th Doctor back in 2017 – could 2021 be the year he finally steps into the Tardis?
JODIE COMER – 10/1
The Killing Eve star, 27, who has picked up an Emmy and a BAFTA thus far, is also one of the top names.
REECE SHEARSMITH – 12/1
The League of Gentleman actor, 51, is currently an outside bet for the role.
MICHAELA COEL – 5/1
Michaela, 33, won acclaim for her BAFTA-winning role in Chewing Gum and BBC/HBO drama, I May Destroy You – making her the hot favourite.
RICHARD AYOADE – 6/1
The IT Crowd star, 43, is not far behind Michaela as he looks to add to his impressive CV.
PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE – 8/1
The much-decorated Fleabag and Killing Eve is among the favourites for the role.
JOHN BOYEGA – 10/1
The Star Wars actor, 28, has previously starred alongside current Time Lord Jodie in Attack the Block and branded her performance ‘brilliant.’
A second special will air in spring 2022, with Jodie’s final, feature-length appearance as the Doctor – in which she will regenerate – arriving in autumn 2022 as part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations.
Of her time on the show, Jodie said: ‘In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them.
‘My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life.
‘And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories.’
Moving on: Writer Chris Chibnall, 51, is also leaving the show and said in a statement: ‘Now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the Tardis keys’
She added: ‘We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had.
‘I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.’
Jodie concluded: ‘I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly.’
Showrunner Chris, 51, added: ‘Jodie and I made a ”three series and out” pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the Tardis keys.’
Co-stars: Aside from Jodie, during his time as showrunner Chris also welcomed the likes of Tosin Cole (Ryan), Mandip Gill (Yaz) and Bradley Walsh (Graham) to the beloved sci-fi series
The BBC added that plans for the new generation of Doctor Who will be announced ‘in due course’.
As the first woman to play the iconic role, Jodie has thrilled audiences with her portrayal of the Time Lord, winning the hearts of Doctor Who fans across the globe.
In 2020, Jodie was voted 2nd Most Popular Doctor of all time, coming within a whisker of her pal David Tennant, in a poll of more than 50,000 fans for Radio Times.
Jodie was first said to have made the decision to leave in January, with reports at the time discussing a fall in viewership, which has been declining for five years.
It was reported that Jodie and showrunner Chris, who is also walking away from the show, had attracted just half the audience during their paring compaired to what the Russell T Davies-led, David Tennant-fronted version of the show did.
Sweet: Jodie, who has played the Doctor for four years, described her time manning the Tardis as being ‘the best job I ever had’ (pictured with co-stars Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole, Bradley Walsh)
The Telegraph reported at the beginning of the year that episodes were drawing in fewer than 5million viewers. The paper added that such numbers are ‘not dissimilar to when the show was axed in 1989’.
In comparison, more than 10million viewers watched David Tennant’s Doctor Who finale in 2010, according to The Guardian.
However, episode Can You Hear Me? saw just 3.81 million viewers tuning in on the over-night ratings, which – according to website Cosmic Book News – was a 22% decrease since the first episode of Season 12, which aired ten months earlier.
And in figures released in March 2020, the same month the series ended, Doctor Who’s ratings slipped to its lowest since the show made a comeback in 2005.
The season finale of series 12 had a total TV audience of 4.6million, making it the lowest Doctor Who has ever had. The previous all-time low was 4.7million in 2017.
Series 12 saw an average viewership of 5.4million.
Jodie’s ratings have dropped dramatically amid criticism from fans over the show losing its ‘fun’ and becoming over politicised.
Episodes have featured the US civil rights movement and the 1947 partition of India – and one where the Doctor is on a spaceship where men can give birth.
Doctor Who? All the actors who have played the Time Lord
The BBC’s hit Sci-fi show Doctor Who was first launched by the BBC in 1963. It chronicles the journey of a Time Lord called ‘The Doctor’.
He is first introduced after fleeing his home planet, Gallifrey.
The Doctor travels through time and space in his spaceship, called a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), which resembles a police box.
During his travels, The Doctor meets people and invites them to voyage with him. They are known as his companions.
He also encounters several evil beings, such as Daleks and Cyberman, and is forced to defeat them sing minimal resources, such as his Sonic Screwdriver, as they try to destroy or take over other planets, including Earth.
As a Time Lord, The Doctor has the capacity to regenerate when he is wounded or dying. After regenerating, he takes on a new appearance and personality.
The concept of regenerating was added into the series after the First Doctor, William Hartnell, became ill and stepped down from his role.
The first run of Doctor Who ended in 1989 before being revived in 2005 with Christopher Ecclestone as the Ninth Doctor.
Below is the full list of the actors who have been cast as the Doctor from 1963 to 2017 – when Jodie Whittaker took over the coveted role.
Starting the legacy: The First Doctor William Hartnell (1963-1966)
Second and Third: Patrick Troughton (1966–1969) and Jon Pertwee (1970–1974)
Fourth and Fifth: Tom Baker (1974–1981) and Peter Davison (1981–1984)
Sixth and Seventh: Colin Baker (1984–1986) and Sylvester McCoy (1987–1989, 1996)
Eighth and Ninth: Paul McGann (1996) and Christopher Eccleston (2005)
Tenth and Eleventh: David Tennant (2005-2010) and Matt Smith (2010-2013)
Twelfth: Peter Capaldi (2013 – 2017)