Ten People Whose Doctor Who Casting Surprised Us

The big news this past week was that singer/songwriter Foxes (Louisa Rose Allen) has been cast for a one off role in Doctor Who Series 8 and will contribute a track especially for the episode.

(Slightly off topic, this is pretty fantastic. She provided the hook for one of the biggest tracks in the US last year, also picked up a Grammy!) We’ll see if the acting skills are up to snuff later this year, but this is a great time to take stock of some other ladies and gents who have played a role in Doctor Who but aren’t really known as actors.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Lily Cole

Lily Cole

You’ll remember her from the memorable role in The Curse of the Black Spot as the sea siren/computer programmed ship doctor. She never utters an actual word, but she plays the part to perfection. It would be interesting to see a story revisit the race that created the ship she was assigned to.

Cole has, apparently, since decided to focus on acting instead of modelling, so maybe the experience (as well as that on The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) impacted on her in a positive way!

Meredith Vieira

Meredith Vieira

And riding in on her personal mammoth…

Known in the US as a honored newscaster/game show host, Meredith Vieira made a guest appearance (as herself!) in the Series 6 finale, The Wedding of River Song. It’s American airing also coincided with her announcement of her departure from the Today Show, an eventful weekend to be sure!

Kenneth Kendall

Kenneth Kendall

Reaching back all the way to the First Doctor story The War Machines, popular news anchor Kenneth Kendall played himself in a short segment. Kendall also went on to do a similar role in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kendall is of note because of his legacy as the first on air television newscaster on the BBC (that is to say he’s the first that was seen reading the news. There were newscasters that had read the news on the telly but not seen).

Hale and Pace

Hale and Pace

Comedian duo of Gareth Hale and Norman Pace, known for their comedy sketches, guest starred on the final Seventh Doctor story, Survival. They portrayed shop keeps Harvey and Len. After their “show closing performance,” the duo returned to sketch work, and as of last year, are touring Australia with their production company.

Ken Dodd

Delta and the Bannerman

From stand-up to The Tollmaster, comedian Ken Dodd guest starred in the ’87 classic, Delta and the Bannermen. Dodd had only one other film role after his appearance on Doctor Who, but has sold millions of comedy albums worldwide.

Anne Robinson

“You are the Weakest Link, g’bye!”

While Robinson never had a live role on Doctor Who, she provided her voice to the role of “Anne Droid” in the Series 1 two part finale. She finished her stint as the long running host of The Weakest Link in 2012. Now, she can be seen on BBC 1, watching dogs or something.

Courtney Pine

Courtney Pine

With the casting of Foxes, it’s prudent to remember another musical guest on the show: Courtney Pine! The renowned Jazz musician played himself in the ’88 episode, Silver Nemesis. This was his only credited acting role, but if you’re doing what you’re famous for, is it really acting?

Alexei Sayle

Revelation of the Daleks 2

Once told a tabloid that he wanted to be the first “Socialist Doctor,” Sayle played the DJ in the Sixth Doctor story, Revelation of the Daleks. The comedian is also noted for a minor role in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as the Sultan.

Leee John

Leee John

No, that’s not a spelling mistake.

The singer-songwriter played the one-off character of Mansell in the Peter Davison story, Enlightenment. John was a last minute replacement in the episode. He is best known for the soul classic, “Body Talk.”

And finally…

Billie Piper

Billie Piper 1

Okay, okay; I know many of you read that and are confused. Was Piper technically an actress prior to playing Rose Tyler? Yes, but only two roles and was still mainly thought of as a pop star prior to her time with Doctor Who. Of course, she’s proved herself a pretty great actress and was superb as the Moment in The Day of the Doctor.

What do you think, dear reader? Did we miss any one that should have been on the list? Let us know!


“That’s bacon! Are you trying to poison me?” And from that line on, I’ve been unable to stop watching, reading, musing about the Doctor. As a recent transplant to the Whoniverse, I’ve been trying to soak up as much Who-related knowledge as possible. That journey has taken me from the Tenth Planet to the Fields of Trenzalore and gently set me at the edge of my seat for what’s next. It’s an honor to be here and I plan to bring a unique perspective. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey alongside me.

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