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Top 10 Surprising Roles by Doctor Who Actors


Written by Sean Harris They may have travelled all of space and time, but they still find ways to surprise us. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top ten surprising roles by Doctor Who Actors! For this list, we’re counting down the best and most unexpected acting roles for anyone who has starred in Doctor Who. We’re only ranking actors who have appeared since the 2005 series reboot, and only those with main recurring roles. Let’s save the likes of Jyn Erso for another list. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Surprising Roles by Doctor Who Actors


They may have travelled all of space and time, but they still find ways to surprise us. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top ten surprising roles by Doctor Who Actors!

For this list, we’re counting down the best and most unexpected acting roles for anyone who has starred in Doctor Who. We’re only ranking actors who have appeared since the 2005 series reboot, and only those with main recurring roles. Let’s save the likes of Jyn Erso for another list.

#10: Catherine Tate as Nan
“The Catherine Tate Show” (2004-07)

We start with one of this countdown’s most famous faces, but a surprising role nonetheless. If you only know Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, David Tennant’s straight-talking but well-meaning final companion, then Joannie ‘Nan’ Taylor may come as quite the shock. Before DW, Tate was known for “The Catherine Tate Show”, a comedy sketch show featuring a range of outlandish characters, with Nan as one of the regulars. An elderly woman always on the edge of rage, she’s an endless supply of unmentionable expletives and unbridled intolerance. God knows how she’d react if she ever travelled through time.

#9: Bernard Cribbins as The Narrator
“The Wombles” (1973-75)

Forty years after starring alongside Peter Cushing in the 1966 Doctor Who feature film, “Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.”, Bernard Cribbins was re-inducted into the Who universe as Donna Noble’s grandfather, Wilfred Mott. In the intervening time Cribbins led a celebrated acting career, but if you grew up in the ‘70s he’ll forever be immortalized as the voice of “The Wombles”. Cribbins narrated both series of the classic kids’ TV show, guiding audiences through the environmentally friendly adventures of Uncle Bulgaria, Orinoco, Tomsk, Bungo, Madame Cholet and everyone else on Wimbledon Common.

#8: Matt Lucas as Mr. Toad
“The Wind in the Willows” (2006)

This TV adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s cherished children’s tale didn’t impress all critics, but Matt Lucas’s turn as Toad of Toad Hall was widely applauded. An actor well known for extravagant roles, not least as Doctor Who’s Nardole, he brings childlike excitement to the part as one of literature’s least reliable automobile enthusiasts. Lucas lavishes Toad with a well-rounded accent and an infinitely expressive manner, to bring to life a riverside creature whose heart is in the right place, even if the car he’s driving rarely escapes without at least a little damage.

#7: Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria
“Victoria” (2016-)

As Clara Oswald, Jenna Coleman travelled with the eleventh and twelfth Doctors through all manner of time periods. Away from the TARDIS she’s best associated with one era in particular. Coleman debuted as Queen Victoria in 2016, spearheading one of the year’s most popular and acclaimed TV shows. She also turned heads with a racy role in the award-winning miniseries “Room at the Top”, but her ongoing stint as the second-longest ruling monarch in British history has cemented her as a household name. From the insides of a Dalek to head of the British Empire, it’s been quite the journey.

#6: Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter
“Legends of Tomorrow” (2016-)

As Amy Pond’s loveable fiancé Rory, Arthur Darvill was one of the main players during Matt Smith’s time at the TARDIS helm. Since then, Darvill has impressed a whole new audience as Reverend Paul Coates in the hard-to-watch West Country whodunit “Broadchurch”, and tried his luck across the Atlantic with a spot on the hit US show, “Legends of Tomorrow”. In the DC superhero series, Darvill plays Rip Hunter whose special power is, wait for it, time travel! There’s no disappearing police box to zoom around in this time, but we’re sure The Doctor would be very proud regardless.

#5: Matt Smith as Mr. Collins
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (2016)

Another who’s put in a right royal performance since DW, former Time Lord Matt Smith played a young Prince Phillip in “The Crown”. But a role in this adaptation of a Jane Austen parody raises eyebrows even further. Smith is one of an all-star cast in “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, including Lily James, Lena Headey, Charles Dance and Suki Waterhouse. The movie proved a box office bomb, but Smith still gets the odd amusing one-liner. An alternate history the like of which Doctor Who is famous for, fans did not see this one coming.

#4: Karen Gillan as Nebula
“The Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014)

After putting in a popular performance as the eleventh Doctor’s first full-time companion, Karen Gillan made waves within other sci-fi circles, with a recurring role in the MCU. As Nebula, an adopted daughter of Thanos, Gillan was introduced in “Guardians of the Galaxy” before starring in the sequel, with the actress almost unrecognizable. First of all, she’s bald; secondly, she’s blue. And she’s not exactly well-intentioned. Gillan memorably de-wigged at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, proving her commitment to the role and putting her days as Amy Pond firmly behind her.

#3: David Tennant as Barty Crouch Jr.
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005)

The tenth Doctor and one of the show’s best loved incarnations, David Tennant might’ve found it difficult to shed his hero rep after three series, nine specials and five years in the TARDIS. But, his other roles have included some stand-out villains, including Jessica Jones’ mind-controlling nemesis. He puts in an even crueler cameo as Barty Crouch Jr. in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”. As one of Voldermort’s most loyal Death Eaters, he cuts a scary, slithery figure, hell bent on delivering Harry to his master. And he almost succeeds. Better luck next time, Barty.

#2: Christopher Eccleston as John Lennon
“Lennon Naked” (2010)

After just one season as the ninth Doctor, and the first of the series reboot, Christopher Eccleston somewhat controversially left DW amidst concerns that he’d be typecast. This role as cultural icon John Lennon is perhaps the most unexpected of all his past parts. A Manchester man playing a Liverpool legend, he charts Lennon’s often unpredictable life in the post-Beatles years. He’s not the only Time Lord to have played a Beatle, and we might’ve included Eccleston as Dougal Siepp in “The League of Gentleman”, but this turn as Lennon seems to epitomize the actor’s determination to try different things.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Freema Agyeman as Larissa Loughlin

Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker

Michelle Gomez as Sue White

#1: Billie Piper as Belle
“Secret Diary of a Call Girl” (2007-11)

Another first series star and another who was keen to shake off her Doctor Who persona, Billie Piper stepped out as Belle, a glamorous London call girl, just one year after her dramatic parallel universe separation from David Tennant. Belle, real name Hannah Baxter, loves her job as a high-class prostitute, and judging by a continuous rotation of clients, she’s pretty good at it. With raunchy scenes, racy dialogue and frequently flirty fourth wall breaks, what would the Doctor say? Well, Tennant’s successor Matt Smith knows more than most. If that doesn’t make you question the fabric of our reality, nothing will.
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