Sunday, 30 August 2015

How many actors have portrayed the Doctor?

If you have even a passing interest in Doctor Who you'd think this was a nice simple question, right? Certainly I did. I thought there could be a few random one-off cameos that I might miss, but essentially I'd have spent thirty seconds counting out some names on my fingers, then added in a few toes, and probably have been confident enough in my final answer that, although I might not be exactly right, I wouldn't make myself look like a dick.

Unless, of course, a dick is the kind of person who tries to name all the Doctors by counting on his toes.

Regardless, I’d have been confident right up until the point I wandered into WHSmith and a magazine stood up on the shelf and screamed at me.

This magazine

Before standing in that newsagent, flicking through this mag, pretending I was about to buy it, I would have said 14.

• William Hartnell
• Patrick Troughton
• Jon Pertwee
• Tom Baker
• Peter Davison
• Colin Baker
• Sylvester McCoy
• Paul McGann
• Christopher Eccleston
• David Tennant
• Matt Smith
• Peter Capaldi

• Peter Cushing (from the old Dalek movies)

• John Hurt (who played the War Doctor in a recent TV special)

But looking in the mag I was somewhat shocked to see what it had to say. It's been put together by the teams behind Total Film and SFX from Future Publishing, and they clearly know a thing or two. And not just about the Doctor. As the cover makes abundantly clear, there are profiles in there for 100 different sci-fi characters, and many of these contain interesting and unusual snippets of info that I hadn't heard elsewhere. There's an article comparing clone cop 'Dredd' with cyborg cop 'Alex Murphy', another about sci-fi characters who have switched gender, and plenty of interesting facts about other fan favourites. For instance did you know:

• The town of Riverside in Iowa has put up a plaque celebrating it as the future birthplace of James T Kirk on 22 March 2228

• And in every episode of Firefly, somewhere in the background onboard Serenity, there's a hidden 'Han Solo in carbonite' toy?

In among all these greats the Doctor gets an exceptionally respectable third place. The makers of the magazine have scoured all the actors who've played him in stunts or documentaries or in weirdee time warp bits, or on stage, or who've played characters who are arguably the doctor in another incarnation etc. and added them all up into one big list spanning four pages. They've managed to come up with one for every year of the TV show's history. And that's a grand total of 52. That's right, it's so unexpectedly high I had to put it in bold.

It's going to be a logistical nightmare if the BBC ever tries to make the 52 Doctors TV special.

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