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Now that Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who, the internet is abuzz with rumours about his replacement. But this time, let’s go with a Welshman.

If you check Twitter, Doctor Who fans are pretty much in synonymous agreement that Matt Smith has been one of the best Doctors the show has ever had. And it’s going to be hard to find a worthy replacement.

Of course, Britain is full of talented actors, and favourites are already emerging for the next Doctor Who: John Hurt, of course, is a likely replacement considering he has already been announced as “The Doctor.”

Some fans are clamoring for an established genre actor like Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, or Damien Lewis, while others hope to see Doctor Who return to older, more serious Doctors like Christopher Lee or John Noble (forget the fact that he’s Australian, he’d be amazing).

Still, others are suggesting more radical options: Rupert Grint. David Tennant (again). A woman. Can you believe it? (Actually yes, we can, but that’s another article for another time.)

However, everyone seems to be overlooking a very significant, important factor: in all his regenerations, the Doctor has been many things… but he has never been Welsh.

Doctor Who has a lot of ties to Wales, of course. It films there, for one thing. The original reboot showrunner Russell T. Davies is Welsh, and had Rose and the Doctor traipsing off to Cardiff every chance they got (and even when they were in London, hey, it was still Cardiff).

So why has a Welsh actor never played the Doctor?

The simple answer is because the Doctor is not chosen based on where he’s from, but how well he fits the role. And that’s great and all, except it’s not exactly true – because over the past 50 years, Doctor Who has firmly established that (if nothing else) the Doctor has to be British.

Doctor Who is such a thoroughly British institution, it seems preposterous to imagine that it would ever cast a non-Brit in the role of the Doctor (although again, let’s all just think of John Noble’s name at the same time, just to see if that old season 3 mind-magic really works).

And yet, for all its Britishness, only the only Doctor who has ever been anything but English was Sylvester McCoy.

McCoy got to use his Scottish accent for the part, but in the reboot-era, Scottish actor David Tennant had put on an English accent.

And that’s a shame. There is a tendency both in Britain and America to standardise accents on film and television, but Britain is so much more than just England. And since we’ve got this huge international hit on our hands, let’s continue this trend of showcasing Britain and the range of Britishness (that isn’t just Englishness) to the world – and move on to Wales!

It’s not like it’d be very hard to find a talented Welsh actor to fill the role. Here are seven different options, spanning a wide age-range and level of fame, that would be able to do the iconic role justice:

Ioan Gruffudd

Doctor Who Welsh Ioan Gruffudd

Although Gruffudd (aged 39) has been trying to establish himself in America with Fantastic Four and shows like Ringer and Castle, his Welsh roots run deep. (He played Lancelot in King Arthur, for crying out loud.)

He is a native speaker, and is considered one of Wales’ most prominent actors. The fact that he is so recognizable in the States would hardly hurt either, considering that Doctor Who is rapidly gaining in popularity over there.

Of course Gruffudd is hardly whimsical. But perhaps it’s time to move away from the silly Doctors, considering that he will be transitioning into the Valeyard? Gruffudd might be the man for the job.

Rhys Ifans

Doctor Who Welsh Rhys Ifans

Not only is Ifans Welsh, but he is also ginger! It’s like a two-for-one special! The 45-year-old actor/musician is best known for his roles as Xenophilius Lovegood in Harry Potter and The Lizard in Spider-Man, and we think he’d be a great choice for the Doctor.

Like Gruffudd, Ifans isn’t exactly whimsical – but he can be wide-eyed, crazed and desperate, as we saw in Deathly Hallows, while remaining calm and carefully, intensely controlled. Ifans is a perfect fit for Doctor Who if the show is indeed going to be moving down a darker path next year.

And another great thing about Ifans is that in some ways, he kind of feels like an older era Doctor; we can’t quite explain why, but there’s something about him which reminds us of Tom Baker and/or Peter Davison.

John Rhys-Davies

Doctor Who Welsh John Rhys-Davies

Talk about going back to classic-era Who! John Rhys-Davies (aged 69) is one of the most talented, versatile British actors of our time, with blockbusters such as The Lord of the Rings, James Bond and Indiana Jones under his belt.

Rhys-Davies is one of those big-name British actors whom you would assume had appeared in Doctor Who at some point as a guest star, but he hasn’t yet – maybe because he’s simply too big of a name for the show. But no one is too big to play the Doctor himself, and if Rhys-Davies picked up the mantle, he would just bring so much class to the series.

We think this is one of the few actors who could truly capture the feel of the original Doctor (William Hartnell), while still putting his own very unique and memorable spin on the role. And let’s not forget that Rhys-Davies is funny. Remember Gimli – or Treebeard, for that matter?!

Here’s an actor who’s got the pedigree, the talent, and the comedic timing to pull off such a complex, conflicted character. His Doctor would be at once edgy and serious, yet quirky and maybe a little bumbling. In other words, Rhys-Davies would be pretty close to perfect.

Iwan Rheon

Doctor Who Welsh Iwan Rheon

Let’s not forget to consider the younger generation of Welsh actors, too. 28-year-old Iwan Rheon is best known for his role on Misfits, although Game of Thrones fans will shudder at the mention of his name considering he currently plays Theon’s ruthless (and so far nameless) torturer.

Rheon may be younger than the other candidates mentioned so far, but he is no less intense. In many of his roles, you’ll find him desperate, wild-eyed and borderline mad, and it is always a shock when you see him do an interview and realise that he’s not really like that at all. He just pulls off that tortured, imbalanced insanity really well.

In fact, Rheon reminds us a little bit of Matt Smith in his ability to take his character to truly dark, disturbing places one moment, and then turning light-hearted and innocent the next.

This resemblance in acting styles might not be a bad thing, considering how badly fans are taking the news of Smith’s departure. Add to this that Rheon also somewhat physically resembles Smith, and he might be the perfect replacement if the executives decide that they don’t want to scare Who fans off with a completely different type of actor.

If the story is going to continue along the same lines as during Smith’s reign as the Doctor, Rheon would be a good choice to keep a similar feel and tone. And at the same time, in terms of amping up the intensity, Rheon would be more than up for the challenge.

Alexander Vlahos

Doctor Who Welsh Alexander Vlahos

Our youngest choice on the list, Alex Vlahos (aged 24) would usher in a whole new era of Doctor Who. Plus, Vlahos actually wants the part!

Despite his recent roles on Merlin (where he played Mordred), Privates and The Indian Doctor, Vlahos is still a relative unknown, forging his path as an actor.

We like the idea of the new Doctor being someone whom the audience can watch build his character’s identity from scratch, rather than being associated with past roles from the get-go.

Considering that John Hurt will appear as “The Doctor” (whether it’s a past or a future regeneration) in the 50th Anniversary Special, the stark contrast between him and a Doctor as young as Vlahos would be jarring – but not necessarily in a bad way.

Some fans might argue that Vlahos’ Doctor would be much too young considering the dark days ahead, but here’s a counter-argument: maybe the darker storyline actually requires a Doctor who has never felt older, yet has never looked younger.

Vlahos is certainly one of the most promising and talented young Welsh actors around, and if the role of the Doctor is going to go to someone in his age range, he’d be our top choice (Welsh or otherwise).

Michael Sheen

Doctor Who Welsh Michael Sheen

Now we’re getting wild! 44-year-old Michael Sheen (no relation to Charlie) can boast a packed resume which spans pretty much every genre, from Twilight to Henry V.

Sheen is best known for playing politicians and crooks; he’s got a knack for playing ominous, almost sleazy villains, and because the majority of Doctor Who‘s adult viewers would recognize him from one or more of these roles, we’d suddenly have a very different kind of Doctor on our hands: one we might not instinctively trust.

This would certainly be an interesting approach to the character, and open up the story in new and exciting ways. One of the Doctor’s most consistent qualities across all of his regenerations is his ability to make people do what he says. He appears somewhere in time or on a random planet, says something along the lines of, “Trust me, I’m the Doctor,” and people usually do.

But what if they didn’t? What if potential companions weren’t falling over themselves to follow him into the TARDIS? What if past allies turned against him, because he suddenly looked and felt like someone who maybe didn’t have their best interest at heart?

Michael Sheen is a brilliant, versatile actor, who could turn the anger and frustration the Doctor would feel after such experiences into something gripping and intense – and before you knew it, we’d be at Trenzalore. The story practically writes itself.

Anthony Hopkins

Doctor Who Welsh Anthony Hopkins

You knew we had to go there. 75-year-old superstar (can we call him that? We just really want to) Anthony Hopkins should already have played the Doctor 10 times over if the role went to iconic British actors.

Hopkins is of course best known for playing Hannibal Lecter in the Hannibal movies (he won an Oscar for his performance in The Silence of the Lambs), but we can’t forget his quually memorable roles in adventure classics such as The Mask of Zorro, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Legends of the Fall.

Anthony Hopkins as Doctor Who? Now that would make headlines. Would he ever agree to it? Unlikely. But just for fun, let’s say that he did. Say he contacted the BBC and went, “Hey guys, mind if I take a spin in the TARDIS?” Not even Steven Moffat could overrule that.

Like with John Rhys-Davies, Hopkins as an older Doctor would bring us back to the good old days of classic Who. We’d have someone commanding, frail yet strong-willed, hardened from battle, and maybe a little bit tired of it all.

Don’t forget River Song’s words in season 5, upon seeing Eleven for the first time (for him): “It’s so strange when you go all baby-face.” Unless she was referring to John Hurt’s Doctor (or… unless this line means nothing because we’ll never see River again, but we refuse to accept the possibility), this strongly indicates that we will indeed see an older Doctor. So why not dream big?

As you can see, there is plenty of talented Welsh actors who would make great Doctors in future Doctor Who series. If the BBC’s stealthy publicity team has their way, we probably won’t learn the face of Twelve until Christmas 2013, so until then, we’ll have to keep speculating!

Which of these Welsh actors would you most like to see as the Doctor?

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Which Welsh actor could you see as the next ‘Doctor Who’?

  • disqus_QolNPkkrOR

    Rhys Ifans has been on wishlist to play the Doctor for a LONG TIME. I fell in love with his kookiness in ‘Notting Hill’, and he was fabulous as Xenophilius Lovegood. I watched him in ‘Neverland’ and it was a complete change from the weirdness I was used to- he was angry and conflicted and just fascinating to watch. I dunno- he just has this eccentricity and lightheartedness mixed with this mysterious depth that I think is so perfect for the Doctor.

    • The507thDoctor

      I agree! If you watch the Oasis video, The Importance of Being Idle, he acts incredibly Doctor-like throughout.

    • Amalia

      I never thought of him before, but I agree – he would be great!

  • Ailsa

    Ummm David Tennant was putting on an English accent for the role.

    • http://hypable.com Selina

      That’s true, I was thinking of the times his Scottish accent slipped through!

    • Just Sayin

      Duh. David Tennant’s Scottish. The one episode where they met the Queen (Where Torchwood Institute was first established), The werewolf episode, He was allowed to use his real Scottish accent for the first half of the episode.

  • Elsa

    I thought Sylvester McCoy was Scottish, with an Scottish accent…

    • http://hypable.com Selina

      Sylvester McCoy! Of course! I knew I was forgetting someone. Article has been amended.

  • http://www.twitter.com/themeels Amelia Brown


  • Lily

    Get on Twitter people: #VlavlaForDoctor ! :)

  • Merina

    HOLY SWEARWORDS MICHAEL SHEEN WOULD BE PERFECTION. Such a brilliant, versatile actor. Alexander Vlahos would be very much a fangirls’ choice, I feel…could he pull it off? Eek, I’m so excited to see who they pick, this time around!

  • http://twitter.com/rmdez Rebekah

    I don’t know about a Welsh actor but I’d like to see Jenna-Louise Coleman/Clara become the next doctor some how. That’s probably going out on a limb but we all like her so much already, it couldn’t hurt.

    • guest

      We all like her so much already???? What??? I personally like her, but alot of people, the majority from who I have talked to, don’t. I dont want a female doctor…It would feel wrong…I feel like gender is something that shouldnt just be changed…besides, he has been married all those times, and fathered kids. And I am a woman…so dont call me sexist.

      • http://twitter.com/rmdez Rebekah

        No worries. :) I prefer for him to stay male too. I’m just saying if they were to change up the gender now Jenna-Louise Coleman could be an easy transition for most since we’re already familiar with her and she has been well received so far.

  • http://www.youtube.com/mapthestars Mapthestars

    I love Rhys Ifans, Iwan Rheon, Alexander Vlahos and Michael Sheen! I think all four of them can bring something really special and different to the character, but my vote, out of the four, had to go to Michael Sheen. He’s such a brilliant actor and although he’s been in a rather recent episode of Doctor Who we did never get to see his face, so I would still love to see him. Not to mention just think of everybody saying “House got into the TARDIS again” if he got casted as the doctor! I would love it.

  • Alex

    Is it too much to ask for a ginger?

  • http://blackrapture.tumblr.com/ thegoodshipdestiel

    Obviously none of these people will happen because it will always be someone we have barely heard of, if at all. But I would love a Welsh Doctor and if I got to pick from this list it would by Rhys Ifans – he is amazing! Seriously cannot stand speculation though, I think it is pointless. Love this article though.

  • amy

    I would love to see Alex Vlahos as the Doctor! Yes, he’s even younger than Matt, but I think he would be fantastic! And, as you said, he already wants the role. #VlaforTheDoctor

  • Firefly

    Alexander Vlahos?? Seriously??!! No way. He was go in Merlin bur come on, Rhys Ifans should be number one! Or

    Michael Sheen

  • Kate

    I think they’ll cast a mostly unknown actor. Of these I think I like Alexander Vlahos; never seen him in anything, but the fact he’s shown interest in the role is nice. The others are far too well-known.

    As for non-Welsh actors I’ve always dreamed to have Harry Lloyd. A suggestion I saw on tumblr had Harry Treadaway. Never heard of him or seen him in anything, but he has a look I like. Also, a ton of people have been suggesting Domhnall Gleeson.

  • http://www.twitter.com/matsemann08 Mats L

    Are the actors of the Doctor usually known/famous before they get their role?

  • c_r_gauthier

    Michael Sheen would kinda remind me of David Tennant.

  • Michela

    I voted for Alex Vlahos, with honourable mentions for Matthew Rhys and Gareth David-Lloyd. ;-P

  • dillonmays

    While I’m all for a Welsh actor, I don’t see any of these people suitable enough for the role, sadly.

  • http://ravenclaw1991.tumblr.com/ ravenclaw1991

    Alexander Vlahos definitely. Though, now that its come to my attention, Iwan Rheon would be cool too. I totally forgot all about him. :)

  • bddrivn

    Since I live in the USA, I don’t get to see Doctor Who very often, but that won’t stop me from voting for Alex. He’s so incredibly talented and I agree that he’d bring in a new, younger crowd to watch Doctor Who. He was awesome as Mordred in Merlin and I really hope he will be in this series. Fresh blood for an old classic.

  • Sagrario Martinez

    I would like Rhys Ifans, as the new Doctor Who ;D

  • grapes9h5

    Iwan has to stick with Thrones!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Stacie

    I voted for Ioan Gruffudd simply because I love him, haha! But I think out of that entire list the person with the most potential is probably Alexander Vlahos.

  • Sara

    uhh Alexander Vlahos!!!!! Let it happen please!!!

  • RussellTurner

    All of those options were terrible… maybe except Loan Gruffudd

    • Alanna

      That’s funny, I was coming here to say that Ioan Gruffudd was the only bad choice on the list….

  • Ella

    so white :(

  • Laura Cain

    Rhys Ifans! What a great call, he would be amazing. Although I do like the idea of Michael Sheen a lot, especially after having seen Tron :) I do think, and I don’t want to sound derogatory to the Welsh, but that the accent might not be as easily understandable internationally as the english one.. Especially if it’s quite broad.

  • Cassandra

    I hope the Sorting Hat is paying attention.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Stuart/100001006449261 Daniel Stuart

    Who knew Wales was entirely populate by white men?

  • Laurelin

    Rhys Ifans!!!

  • Kat

    Although I’m of the opinion that it would be brilliant to see female and/or POC Doctor, I certainly wouldn’t complain to see Alex Vlahos with the role.

  • Elphaba Thropp

    I really want an unknown actor to play the Doctor. Someone so good, but we’ve never heard of him, so Doctor Who won’t just be another thing for him! I’m strict enough that I don’t want a female Doctor (and definitely not an American), but I would be fine with Scottish, Welsh, or English.

  • Amanda

    holy crap, Gareth David-Lloyd.

  • brotherscharles

    Eric Idle

  • lilsarz

    I think Nathaniel Parker would make an amazing Doctor!

  • Frederick

    Personally like to see as Doctor 12 and 13

    1/ Simon Baker (mentalist) from Oz but no accent

    2/ Matthew Baynton (Horrible histories)

  • Ian

    Your suggestions are great, but I would like to see Alan Davies (Jonathan Creek, Qi) play the role.

  • Louise Hypher

    Alex Vlahos is a relative unknown, but he has a great breadth of talent, a keen sense of humour and can be very physical. I have seen several of his other roles in various productions, including an online series “All Shook Up”. Even though he is very young, I think he has the talent to pull it off.

  • DarrlynM87

    I have a crazy idea, how about a person of color? Every Doctor Who has been a white man so why not change it up? Or maybe a woman? My pick would be Idris Elba

    • http://hypable.com Selina

      I did mention Idris Elba in the article. But he’s not one of the options, because he’s not Welsh.

      • DarrlynM87

        I know he’s British, this was more in response to the the whole who should be the next Doctor Who in general

        • http://hypable.com Selina

          I definitely think Idris Elba would make a great Doctor. The good thing about him is that he can be commanding and wise, and yet he’s also very funny (though his comedic style is very different from what we’ve seen on DW so far – but that isn’t altogether a bad thing).

          • DarrlynM87


  • Brendan_Brando

    Great list! With the exception of J.R.D and Sir Anthony Hopkins I think they would all make great choice. And those two only because of the excessive amount of running involved as the Doctor. ;) Nothing to do with their ability as actors. When I found out Matt was leaving I compiled my own list of actor I’d like to see take the role. http://nerditis.com/2013/06/01/doctor-who-only-time-will-tell-regeneration-suggestions/
    What do you think?

  • melody

    Rupert Penry-Jones
    He was born Rupert William Penry-Jones in London to Welsh actor Peter Penry-Jones and English actress Angela Thorne.[1] His brother Laurence Penry-Jones and sister-in-law Polly Walker are also actors.[1]

  • John Julian

    Welsh or not, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Simm, Simon Pegg,,,yes, I know John Simm was “The Master,’ and in fact, his performance as the Master makes him an EXCELLENT transition Doctor to John Hurt.

    Of the above actors John Rhys Davies and Anthony Hopkins could pull -off ANY role!

    “Mr. Fantastic” – no. I like his work, but would NOT want Jessica Alba as his Companion either.

    Michael Sheen looks too much like Sylvester McCoy.

    Alex Vlahos, was great in Merlin, but too young for the weight the 12th Doctor must carry.

    Iwan Rheon – maybe.

    Rhys Irfan, also a maybe.

    What one cannot overlook is how BIG this role has become. It demands someone who can carry the load of the Time War (Eccleston…we hardly knew ye!), the massive grief of losing so many loved ones and being the last of his kind, etc.etc. dotdotdot

    BTW – where’s Jenny?

    The bar is set so high! When Eccelston left we were afraid, VERY afraid! Then Tennet, who was so commanding we thought no one could match his performance, and then Matt starts with “The Eleventh Hour” and Amelia Pond and we knew everything was OK….

    and here we go again….if Moffat selects the next Doctor, it will be fine.,,I hope!

  • Musician

    I’ve seen Sheen play trustworthy roles. One of my favorites was when he played Tony Blair, and that wasn’t a villainous (except for some Brits) or sleazy role. Also, I would argue that he was pretty trust-able when he played the Lycan leader in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. That may sound weird, but he’s basically the protagonist, and he’s pretty sympathetic.

    • Musician

      Also, I really don’t want the guy who plays Ramsay Bolton to play the Doctor. I try to defend actors when people get all stuck on typecasting, but I would not be able to watch Game of Thrones or Doctor Who anymore if Bolton was also the Doctor. I would just keep listening for Tardis engines in GoT and screams from torture in DW. Also, there is something inherently menacing about the actor–which I’m sure he carefully cultivated to play roles–that goes a little farther than I think the Doctor should.

  • Samma

    omg Michael Sheen. Yes. If only so we can hear the laugh from breaking dawn again.

    But really, Rhys Ifans.

    • Musician

      Michael Sheen is so, so superb. He would be spectacular.

  • Rachel Whelen

    Oh no now I’m imagining John Noble as the Doctor. He would be so perfect sigh.

  • amber

    how do I voteeeee? I WANT ALEX

  • Sam

    Oliver Kieran Jones. Enough said.

  • Lucy

    #VlaForTheDoctor ;)

  • Amelia

    Matt Smith is the most doctory doctor out there, and i love him, the thought of him leaving is making me depressed…

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