A Brief History Of Time (Travel): Doctor Who (1996)

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I was browsing this website, and I found this, which is the most comprehensive breakdown of the production of the TV Movie that I’ve ever come across – bits and pieces I’d heard before, but a lot of it was new information to me, so I figured I’d share.

Potential casting choices for the Doctor:

  • Rowan Atkinson
  • Jeremy Brett
  • Robbie Coltrane
  • Timothy Dalton
  • Ralph Fiennes
  • Ian McKellen
  • Ben Kingsley

There’s plenty of others, too – three of them actually went on to be the Doctor, with John Hurt, Christopher Eccleston, and Peter Capaldi having been considered at some stage or another. (Capaldi isn’t actually on that list, but he mentioned it in an interview a while ago. Moffat was there with him, and was quite surprised!) There’s also a couple of future Masters on there – Derek Jacobi and Jonathan Pryce – as well as a couple more Curse of Fatal Death Doctors, with Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant having been considered. Couple of Americans too – Jeff Goldblum, Aidan Quinn, Gary Sinise and also, weirdly, Rob Lowe. Which I suppose wouldn’t have been weird at the time, but I’ve only ever seen him as Chris Traeger, which is a weird image!

Before Paul McGann, Liam Cunningham was the frontrunner for quite a long time. (Davos from Game of Thrones)

Potential Casting Choices for the Master:

  • Ben Kingsley
  • Steve Buscemi
  • Jim Belushi
  • Christopher Lee
  • Tom Selleck
  • Jeff Goldblum
  • Jonathan Pryce (who was the Master later on anyway)

Lots of Star Trek alumni were considered for the Master, actually – Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Leonard Nimoy (who was at one point considered to direct), Michael Dorn, Scott Bakula, and Patrick Stewart.

Also quite a lot of weird choices. Musicians, mostly. You’ve got David Bowie, Sting, Mick Jagger, as well as Tom Waits and Phil Collins. (I don’t know much about those last two, but they complete the set of musicians.) Another weird one is Chevy Chase, who I can only picture as Pierce from Community. Can you imagine that? If the TV movie had ended up being Chris Traeger vs Pierce Hawthorne. Mental.

For quite a while, the frontrunner was Christopher Lloyd, as in Doc Brown, but Fox weren’t keen on the idea, because of the cost of hiring him. In the end though, Eric Roberts was paid a higher salary, so it’s all moot anyway.

They were also going to include a ‘big name’ actor as Borusa, who’d be the Doctor’s (and the Master’s) grandfather in this series. Some of the names they kicked around were Peter Cushing, Richard Attenborough, Alec Guinness, and Anthony Hopkins, but the frontrunner was Peter O’Toole – and he was actually willing to do it!

It is rather insane to think about all the different talent that was at one point connected to the TV movie. I mean, I’ve enjoyed it each time I’ve watched it, but it’s hardly the most amazing thing ever – they were just so ambitious to try and get these people to do it, weren’t they?

Very, very strange to think about what might have been. Anything on there strike you guys as being weird or interesting? Or even (whisper it) better than what we got?

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