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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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 Voldemort’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. 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. 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.


  1. Jordan Richardson Author

    I can't believe you missed Christopher Eccleston in 'The A Word.' He plays the grandfather of a child on the autism spectrum. It's a heartwarming show.

  2. Hendrik Little Author

    How can it be a "surprising role" for Catherine Tate when it was one she played before she was in the show and was probably one of the main reasons she got to be in the show in the first place? Jesus.

  3. Mykael Nyx Author

    I know it was a bit part really, but you should have mentioned Peter Capaldi being in World War Z. And I'm only saying that because I find it funny that Doctor Who was listed in the credits as WHO Doctor.

  4. MineKurtMininer Author

    I hoped #1 was Bellie Piper so we have the whole doctor timeline backwards from 6 to 1 Arthur Williams, Matt Smith, Karen Gillian, David Tennant, Christopher Eccelston, and Billie Piper

  5. MineKurtMininer Author

    Oh by the way about Karen Gillian she was also Ruby Roundhouse from the new jumanji movie with Jack black, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Heart, and one of the Jonas brothers

  6. Phantomwar 2376 Author

    with matt smith you missed out that he played the role of skynet in the last terminator movie, and eccleson in the 2 G.I. Joe movies

  7. Layanord 2561 Author

    Christopher Eccleston is also a Marvel character, he's the villain in Thor the Dark World.

    Like if you still remember that movie.

  8. Harneev D Author

    Donna's wasn't really that surprising cause shed be straightforward and is always is on the verge of rage just look at season 4 thir really similar

  9. Francis Gilbert Author

    NOPE! watch mojo you have done it wrong again. U do not watch the show.
    Claire Higgins playing Gina Colby on the Midsomer Murders episode Death in a Chocolate Box, as a murdering psychopath.
    Who is Claire Higgins??? Do your job and find out

  10. Justin Wallace Author

    Catherine Tate in the Catherine Tate show is hardly surprising.
    The show is named after her for crying out loud
    Half are these aren't surprising as if you looked at the ads for these shows and movies you'd see a photo of them on the poster

  11. Roger Lynch Author

    4:39 Yes, Coleman is an exellent actress, point accepted but outside of the English speaking world she is rather unknown even to most German Dr. Who viewers, thinking her in the role of Oswald cool but don´r really know her real name.

  12. Medieaval Beabe Author

    The t is silent in Madame Cholet. It’s pronounced show-lay.

    And how do you not know how to pronounce era?

    Also, Amy a popular character? I hated her! Nebula rocks, though!

  13. jerry2357 Author

    Bernard Cribbins’s best role was as Perks in the 1970 film of The Railway Children.

    I’m surprised you didn’t include the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton’s performance as Father Brennan in the 1976 horror film The Omen.

  14. Monty Python the Flying Circus Author

    What about the series “Blackpool” with David Tennant & David Morrissey – well worth giving it a watch

  15. gengen One Author

    Oh my God! He was her husband not her fiance at the end of the show. Her husband! Do not think people are listening? Do you not think people listening to this know their Doctor Who? This is why I do not subscribe!

  16. Sean Riddolls Author

    They skipped Peter Cushing !
    Cushing was in Star Wars (1977) as Grand Moff Tarkin.
    and in both Doctor Who films (1965/1966) as the Doctor.

  17. XoverBit Author

    Your forgot Ecclestone in Heroes. He starred "Claude" in 5 episodes!
    And also David Tennant in Good Omens (but this series was released after your upload :D)


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