The former I.T Crowd actor has been associated with this role for much of the last decade, and its not hard to see why. His trademark sardonic wit would bring a restrained humour to the role, studded with the quirk and eccentricity synonymous with, but not exclusive to Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor. The skill for Ayoade would be channelling Smith’s energy but pairing it back to portray a calmer and more rational Doctor, quick to quip, and a little stubborn.
There is no doubting he would be up for it though, with recent voice work in The Mandalorian (2019-2020), Soul (2021) and Early Man (2018) solidifying both his proficiency in making a role his own, and his seriousness about working in children’s media. With his ever-sarcastic and deprecating presentation of The Crystal Maze (2017-) and the 2020 BAFTA’s bringing him back into the public subconscious, its little surprise that he’s the most popular choice to take over the role of the Doctor.
Fresh from the success of her unfairly snubbed I May Destroy You , Coel will undoubtedly be looking for a new project, and Doctor Who presents an opportunity for her to further diversify her credits, after previously testing the waters of sci-fi in Black Mirror and cameoing in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). With her previous work focusing on her own upbringing in East London, if Coel could mature the brash comedy of Chewing Gum and bring it to the Doctor, a uniquely energetic and impulsive incarnation could be born.
Perhaps more importantly, since the 2005 reboot Doctor Who has been an increasingly inclusive show, yet much of its history remains grounded in white male actors, patriarchal character roles, and misogynistic writing. Casting a young black woman in the titular role would represent a further shift in the importance of the role, and build on Jodie Whittaker’s legacy; further highlighting the role of the Doctor as accessible to all, regardless of gender, or any other previously excluding characteristics.
Whilst the previous two options are likely candidates to take over from Whittaker, Malkovich is my outside pick to take on the role. Since the shows inception in 1963 no-one has quite matched William Hartnell’s original incarnation for hostility, abrasion and pragmaticism; traits that Malkovich has portrayed in abundance. Despite his distinct Americanism, Malkovich has been involved in a diverse range of both British (Crossbones) and French (Poirot, Johnny English) roles, highlighting his ability to produce convincing accents, and experience in taking on historic roles and making them his own. Malkovich’s Poirot was very different to David Suchet’s, and his work on The ABC Murders presents the impertinent and downtrodden characteristics he communicates so well. Malkovich’s Doctor would be less passionate and approachable than Peter Capaldi’s, but a little more 21st century than Hartnell’s.
Conceptually, Doctor Who feels tired, partly attributable to the energetic similarity of the ‘reboot’ Doctor’s. With the very foundations of the show challenged by the lore-changing Series 12, and fans ostracised by Chris Chibnall’s direction, Malkovich could offer stability by taking the show back to its roots with a modern take on the curbed enthusiasm and dogged stringency of Hartnell, perfect for a darker and existential Doctor following the revelation of the 'Timeless Child'.