Peter Capaldi was unveiled as Doctor Who‘s newest lead in August and will make his first appearance in the sci-fi hit’s 2013 Christmas special, before taking control of the TARDIS full-time the following year…
But Digital Spy has exclusively learnt that other stars were considered for the role of the 12th Doctor – among them Ben Daniels, who was rumoured as a potential candidate and was at one point named as the bookies’ favourite.
Daniels has joined the cast of The Paradise and, while promoting his role in series two of the BBC One period drama, gave DS his version of events…
“It was more than rumour.
“I was approached and asked if it was something I’d be interested in doing. Apparently, usually when it’s announced that the [old] Doctor is leaving, the new Doctor’s already firmly in place. But a BBC email had apparently been leaked, talking about Matt Smith’s departure or something, so they had to announce it officially much sooner than they’d have liked.
“I don’t know whether my name was also on that e-mail as was stated in lots of those rumours, but I was one of the names on one of their many lists they had as a possible replacement.
“So I was asked, and when I eventually managed to peel myself off the ceiling, I said, ‘Yeah, of course it’d be something I’d be interested in doing,’ and I was hugely excited by it.
“I was a huge fan of the show as a kid, like we all were really. My era was Jon Pertwee into Tom Baker and then also when it returned, penned thrillingly by the amazing Russell T Davies with Christopher Eccleston. To be thrown into that mix as a possibility was fantastic.
“But I also knew from the outset that there was a name ahead of my own on that list that they were very interested in. So after that initial conversation that I had with them, it was just a waiting game.
“I was consumed by the idea, even though I was heavily involved filming The Paradise at the time – often I’d call my agent and make them call Doctor Who and ask if it’d gone away as a possibility.
“It was just so I could stop thinking about it, but then my agent would call me back and say, ‘No, you’re still on the list’. This went on for a couple of months.
“So I had a good two months to really think about the ramifications of… not being able to go to the local pub and so on. I sort of live in the middle of three schools, so it was like, ‘OK, maybe I’d have to move’.
“I think a lot of actors have no interest in doing that, but the Doctor is a fantastic character and… if you want to, there’s a huge scope for an actor to really sink your teeth into. It’d be an absolute privilege.
“Then – I think it was about two weeks before that live reveal event – I was told that their shortlist had got much shorter! But it didn’t mean I wouldn’t come back into the frame.
“So I took that to mean the deal was being done with whoever was the frontrunner and if it all fell through, then those of us who were trailing behind would be in with a chance.
“After that, all communications went into lock-down infuriatingly, but I suppose they have to, so nothing leaked. I found out about that BBC live reveal programme a couple of days before it [aired].
“It was a really exciting couple-and-a-half months. I was thoroughly entertained reading all those daily rumours online – first I was cast, then I’d filmed, then I had to pull out for personal reasons! All of which had no basis whatsoever in reality, but they’d obviously latched onto something and I don’t know where that all initially started. You never know with all those rumours.
“I can’t wait to see what Peter Capaldi does. He’s brilliant – such an amazing actor and it’ll be completely unique and I’m looking forward, hugely, to his Doctor.
“I knew from the outset, from that initial conversation, that they wanted to cast someone older and I just think it’s so great to shake it up. The Who fans are just so incredibly passionate about that show, which I absolutely love. They’re really vocal. The debates they all have about who it should be and why it should be… but I think Peter Capaldi will just be fantastic.”