Doctor Who is the main character in the widely acclaimed Sci-fi television show Doctor Who. The name is an alias used by a time-traveling alien who specializes in shuttling between time and space alongside his companions in what is known as TARDIS – a fictional spacecraft and time machine employed on the Sci-fI TV show. The lead character in Doctor Who belongs to a group of time travelers classified as the ”Time Lords” who originate from the planet known as Gallifrey. Do you know that since the inception of the show in 1963, every actor who played Doctor Who the Doctor cannot reprise their role? The concept of changing the lead character is tied to the narrative employed in devising the plot. The Time Lords have a regenerative ability embedded in their biological set up which allows them to incarnate or take up new physical forms after they experience serious injuries or even death.
The narrative technique explained above has been used a total of 12 times since the show started hence the continuous change of actors who play the role. The Doctor character ever since the show started has continued to gain more popularity making it a fan favorite. The popular British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, nickname it “Britain’s favorite alien”. It was also ranked on the list of “100 Greatest TV characters” as published by Channel 4.
Presently, the character is being portrayed by popular English born actress Jodie Whittaker. Read on as we categorically rank these actors from best to worst in terms of their performance in portraying the title character of the BBC television program. This list may likely not to include Whittaker as her tenure in the franchise has not expired. Jodie joined the series on December 25, 2017, and has since spent close to two years.
Every Actor Who Played Doctor Who Ranked From Best To Worst
1. Patrick Troughton
Patrick Troughton is arguably the best actor to have played the character of The Doctor. He is believed to have set the template for the success stories of the character. The English actor was the second person to have ever played the Doctor in the popular Doctor Who sitcom. He took over from William Hartnell who was the series’, original take-off actor. Patrick’s reign as The Doctor started on October 29th, 1966 and ended on June 21th 1969. The popular actor also featured in other productions under the Doctor Who franchise, some of which include The Web of Fear, The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors, and The Two Doctors.
2. Tom Baker
The next name that comes to mind definitely has to be that of Tom Baker. He portrayed the fourth incarnation of The Doctor in the series. The superb performance of the English born actor earned him the longest tenure in the history of the role. His tenure began on June 8th, 1974, and ran for almost 7 years before it was cut short on March 21st, 1981.
Baker also portrayed the character of the curator in The Day of the Doctor which was released in 2013. Other notable appearances of the star actor include Disney Time, The Pescatons, Christmas Sketch, Genesis of the Daleks, The Evil of the Daleks, Doctor Who Night, and Destiny of the Doctors.
3. Matt Smith
Matt Smith is a Primetime Emmy Award nominee and widely celebrated English actor. Smith is the eleventh actor to take up the role of The Doctor in the Doctor Who franchise. He made his debut on the television series on January 1st, 2010, on the first episode of the fifth series of the franchise titled, The Eleventh Hour. He stayed on for almost four years as the title character before he finally left the show on December 25th, 2013. His last appearance was seen in the episode titled The Time of the Doctor. The veteran actor is also notable for several appearances on T.V commercials, films, stage plays and he has even featured in some video game franchises.
4. Peter Capaldi
Fourth on the list of best Doctor Who actors happen to be Peter Capaldi, a recipient of the prestigious British Academy Television Award and a notable veteran actor. He was featured on Doctor Who as the twelfth actor to play the Doctor character. Many believe that Capaldi was a suitable replacement for Matt Smith as the former took over the day the latter left. His first and last episodes were a Deep Breath and Twice Upon a Time.
The actor is also popular for featuring in other productions ranging from television, online games to commercials. Some of these include The Day of the Doctor, The Magician’s Apprentice amongst others.
5. Jon Pertwee
John Devon Roland Pertwee is popularly known as Jon Pertwee although he is no more, Pertwee was a force to reckon with during his acting days. Born on July 7, 1919, in London to an English Family, he went against all the odds to carve a niche for himself in the entertainment industry. Pertwee was the third actor to take up the responsibility of portraying the Doctor Who character. He was a major part of the franchise in the early 70s spending roughly about 4 years and 5 months with them. The English actor’s last appearance was on the Planet of the Spiders released in 1974.
Some other appearances by the talented actor include the trailer for The Ambassadors, Seven Keys to Doomsday, The Five Doctors, The Paradise of Death, Devious and most recent before his demise Surprise Surprise.
6. David Tennant
There is no Doctor Who die-hard follower that won’t be familiar with the name David Tennant who played the 10th incarnate of The Doctor character starting from June 15, 2005. He made his debut in The Christmas Invasion episode. The Scottish born actor also featured on Journey’s End which was released on July 5, 2008. Tennant’s other notable appearances include Children in Need Special, The Infinite Quest, The Day of the Doctor as well as the game, Attack of the Graske.
7. Paul McGann
Paul McGann is a veteran English actor well-known for his role in The Monocled Mutineer. He portrayed the 8th incarnation of the Doctor Who lead character, a role he assumed on May 27, 1996. McGann’s performance of the role earned him wide praise and positive reviews. He also featured on the audio version of Big Finish Productions, Shada webcast and The Night of the Doctor.
8. Sylvester McCoy
Sylvester McCoy is a known Scottish actor who served as the seventh person to play the Doctor Who character. He joined the franchise on September 7, 1987, and after spending approximately two years and five months, he left on December 6, 1989. McCoy starred as the 6th doctor in Time and the Rani. Other appearances by the talented actor include Search Out Science, Doctor Who, Dimensions in Time, Death comes to Time amongst others
9. Christopher Eccleston
Up next on our list is Emmy Award-winning actor Christopher Eccleston. The English born actor’s spell on the franchise was the shortest ever. The 10th incarnate of The Doctor spent just 2 months and some weeks on the series starting from March 26th, 2005, up until June 18th, 2005.
10. William Hartnell
Many would have thought William Hartnell the first and greatest actor to portray the title role in Doctor Who but it does not seem so. He was brought onto the series on November 23rd, 1963, featuring on An Unearthly Child episode. Hartnell left the franchise on October 29, 1966, having stayed close to three years. He later starred in the television series The Three Doctors which ran from December 30th, 1972, up until January 20th, 1973.
11. Colin Baker
Colin Baker falls among the worst actors who have played the title character in Doctor Who. However, he still ranks higher than his predecessor Peter Davidson. Baker who was the sixth actor to have ever played the Doctor character started out on the final episode of the 21st season of the franchise titled, The Twin Dilemma released sometime in March 1984. In spite of his not too impressive portrayal of the Doctor, Colin was able to land notable roles in several other productions including television, radio, and computer game franchises. Some of his other appearances can be seen in Jim’ll Fix It- A Fix with Sontar, Slip back, Dimensions in Time and in the popular computer game, Destiny of the Doctors.
12. Peter Davison
Well, it is definitely no surprise that Peter Davidson ranks last on our list despite having played The Doctor character for almost three years. He assumed the role of the character on March 21st, 1981, and his reign came to an end on March 16th, 1984, after The Caves of Androzani episode was released. Although he has put in a good number of years into cultivating his career that hs lasted decades, he was the fifth actor to play the title role in Doctor Who and was not able to meet the standard set by his predecessors. However, he has featured in some other acting gigs and game franchises such as Dimensions in Time and Destiny of the Doctors.