Doctor Who actors in the West End on stage
We take a look back at the previous actors to have played the Doctor and their assistants, as well as their stage careers.
Doctor Who actors on stage
Best known as one of Doctor Who’s companions, Jenna Coleman will return to the stage in 2019 to star in All My Sons at the Old Vic. After landing the role of Jasmine Thomas in Emmerdale in 2005, Coleman has appeared in television shows including Waterloo Road, Dancing on the Edge and Death Comes to Pemberley.
Known as River Song in Doctor Who, Alex Kingston recently starred in Admissions at Trafalgar Studios alongside Sarah Hadland. Her West End debut came in 2006 when she starred in a production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Garrick Theatre. In 2013, Kingston starred as Lady Macbeth in the Shakespearean classic at the National Theatre, opposite Kenneth Branagh in the title role. After West End success, she later reprised her performance on Broadway, making her New York stage debut.
Jodie Whittaker has become a household name after starring in Broadchurch. Her professional theatre debut came in 2005, when she appeared in The Storm at the Globe Theatre. Throughout her career, she has starred in Enemies and Awake and Sing! at the Almeida Theatre. Her last stage appearance was in 2012, when she played the titular character in Antigone, alongside fellow Doctor Christopher Eccleston. She is now the first female to play the Doctor since it first aired in 1963.
Playing the eponymous character from 2013 to 2017, Peter Capaldi’s stage career has appeared in plenty of West End productions, as well as stages across the country. In 1974, he made his professional debut in An Inspector Calls at the Fort Theatre, then starring in a national tour of Blood Brothers as Eddie. More recently, he played Professor Marcus in the stage adaptation of The Ladykillers. He performed in the premiere at the Liverpool Playhouse as well as starring in the show’s West End transfer at the Gielgud Theatre.
Matt Smith appeared on our television screen as the Doctor from 2010 to 2013, bringing a zany flair to the character. He has performed on numerous London stages, making his professional debut in 2004 in The Master and Margarita at the Lyric Hammersmith. Since then, he has played Lockwood in The History Boys, Guy in Swimming with Sharks at the Vaudeville Theatre and American Psycho at the Almeida Theatre. His last stage credit was in 2016 when he played Maxim in Unreachable at the Royal Court Theatre.
David Tennant played the Doctor from 2005 to 2010 and reprised his role in 2013 for the 50th-anniversary special. Making his professional theatre debut in 1989, he has starred in numerous productions with many taking place at either the Dundee Repertory Theatre or with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In recent years, Tennant has played Richard III at the Barbican Theatre, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at the Wyndham’s Theatre and the role of Hamlet at the Novello Theatre. In 2017, he played Don Juan in Don Juan in Soho at the Wyndham’s Theatre, written by Patrick Marber.
Cast as the doctor for the show’s revival in 2005, Christopher Eccleston only played the role for one series. His stage debut in London came in 1990 when he performed in Bent and Abingdon Square at the National Theatre, but more recently he played Creon in Antigone with Jodie Whittaker. Christopher Eccleston will reprise his debut performance with the RSC when he plays the title role of Macbeth at the Barbican Theatre.
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Starring as the Doctor in the 1996 film of Doctor Who, Paul McGann never led a series of the hit television show even though over nine million people watched the movie when it was released. Recent stage credits include Butley at the Duchess Theatre and Mourning Becomes Electra at the National Theatre.
Playing the Doctor over a period from 1987 to 1996, Sylvester McCoy holds the title of the longest-serving Doctor. In 2007, he played the Fool in King Lear to Ian McKellen in the lead role in Australia and London.
Taking on the role of Doctor Who from 1984 to 1986, Colin Baker has continued playing the role in over 20 audio dramas of the hit television show for the BBC. Making his stage debut nearly 50 years ago, he first performed in Plaintiff in a Pretty Hat at theatres in Cambridge, Wimbledon and Torquay. Other stage credits include Greg in The Mousetrap when the production toured the UK in 1982, as well as Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure from 1989, assuming the role from Jon Pertwee. He has also performed in a UK tour of Spider’s Web. Throughout his career, he has also performed in pantomimes across the country.
Well known for his 1981 to 1984 performance in the show, Peter Davison was the fifth person to play the Doctor. He has performed in many recent musicals including Spamalot at the Palace Theatre, Legally Blonde and Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre alongside Sheridan Smith and Imelda Staunton respectively.
In 1968, Tom Baker joined the National Theatre, later playing the Prince of Morocco in The Merchant of Venice and was cast by Laurence Olivier. He landed the role of Doctor Who from 1974 to 1981, making him the longest continual serving Doctor. Once he finished his work on the television series, he starred in Feasting with Panthers, She Stoops to Conquer and The Mask of Moriarty, playing Moriarty in Dublin. He also starred as Inspector Goole in An Inspector Calls.
Playing the Doctor for 124 episodes between 1970 and 1974, John Pertwee was destined for performing. He lent his voice to The Navy Lark on BBC radio and took on another title role as Worzel Gummidge. Pertwee was a much-loved comedic performer, who appeared in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1963. He also performed on Broadway in There’s A Girl in my Soup. He passed away in 1996, aged 77.
Patrick Troughton was the second Doctor, assuming the lead role from 1966 to 1969. He also reprised the role in 1973, 1983 and 1985, and passed away in 1987. His career included notable appearances in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Coronation Street and in the first episode of Inspector Morse. Troughton was cast as a direct replacement for William Hartnell.
Gracing the screens as Doctor Who for the first time on 23rd November 1963, William Hartnell was the original Doctor. First appearing in the theatre in 1926 in Shakespeare works including As You Like It, Hamlet and The Tempest, Hartnell began a stellar performing career, making over 60 film appearances. He played the first ever Doctor from 1963 to 1966, before Patrick Troughton took over the role. William Hartnell passed away in 1975.