Neil Gaiman Says A Black Actor Turned Down The Role Of Doctor Who

doctor who logo blackSo, did Paterson Joseph turn down the role of The Doctor? Er… maybe.

In the aftermath of this week’s Peter Capaldi unveiling, Neil Gaiman has been speaking with folk about the casting of Doctor Who via Tumblr. Yesterday morning, I was pointed towards his thinking on why this time wasn’t the time to cast a female actor as the Doctor.

Here are two of his comments, compounded together:

Do I think it’s time to cast a woman as the Doctor? Not yet. Not quite…

…if I were show-running (I’m not) I wouldn’t cast a woman as the Doctor yet, and it would absolutely be on my list of things to do in the following regeneration. (I was the one who wrote the line about the Corsair changing gender on regeneration, in “The Doctor’s Wife” after all, and made it canon that Time Lords can absolutely change gender when they regenerate.)

Some of that is stuff I’d find hard to articulate, mostly having to do with what kind of Doctor you follow Matt Smith’s Doctor with: someone harder and much older and more dangerous and, yes, male feels right to me, as a storyteller. Where you go after that, ah, that’s a whole new game…

It doesn’t have to feel like that to you, nor am I telling you what to think. We’re talking stories here, and opinions after all, and your opinions are, obviously, as valid as mine.

Which, if you want to believe, sounds like a tease that, yes, there’s a female regeneration coming, it’s been foreshadowed and it will be tied into explaining the change of how many regenerations the character can experience. If you want to believe.

I think Rich believes. I’m… going to see what happens.

Also in the mix were Gaiman’s comments on the race of the actor playing the role. Again, two comments put end to end, addressing the casting of somebody who isn’t white:

Would I like a person of colour as the Doctor? Absolutely. Paterson Joseph was the Marquis de Carabas in Neverwhere, because he aced the auditions, and beat all the other actors, mostly white, who tried out for the role. I’d want that kind of performance at the audition for the Doctor. And there are certainly actors good enough out there that it feels like a missed opportunity. Does that mean I’m disappointed by Peter? No, just excited to see what kind of Doctor he makes….

(I thought I’d said that I was disappointed that it didn’t happen this time, and that there are some amazing actors out there. I was rather disappointed that Paterson Joseph didn’t get it last time, although I’ve loved Matt’s Eleven) And yes, I have no doubt there will be. (I know one black actor who was already offered the part of the Doctor, and who turned it down.)  Just as there will be a female Doctor…

I didn’t read far enough to get to these comments yesterday, but I’m slightly amazed that they hung out there for so long without… well, without Rich posting something.

But here you go. I got there in the end, thanks to a bit of prodding from you guys.

I guess what I’m left curious about is which of the showrunners was it that tried to cast a black doctor? I’d be perhaps more interested in having that confirmed than specifically which actor it was.