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August 10 2013

Almost the 11th Doctor? Sources tell the Daily Mirror that Chiwetel Ejiofor was offered the role back in 2009.

Oops, I think I need to delete this one. Didn't read it all the way through; now realizing that it's all speculation. :-(
I changed the link to the original source, so people can make their own minds up. Informed wisdom has it that Paterson Joseph was offered the role and then Matt Smith auditioned.
There were definitely rumours going around about Chiwetel at the time; whether that really means anything or not is unclear.
I don't trust rumors in the slightest. After the next Doctor was chosen, I found that article that had listed Chiwetel as having 7-1 odds of getting the part. All the actors they listed were more famous than the actor who did get the part, and he wasn't on their list at all. So I don't think the people making up the rumors had even the slightest idea who the makers of the show were actually considering.
Jaosn, I would trust some of them.

Doctor Who is a very leaky show. Chris Ecclestone's departure, David Tennant's casting, John Simm's casting and plenty of other surprises were all leaked to the press to the consternation of producers. Even the behind the scenes furore over Freema Agyeman not doing Torchwood: Miracle Day in favour of Law & Order: UK leaked. Eventually, Russell T Davies' book The Writer's Tale revealed that not only were all of these genuine leaks, but that the BBC was in a tailspin each time—attempting damage control, rewrites, and basically everything the papers' sources suggested.

Few seem to recall that Matt Smith leaked before the announcement ; no one bought the idea. He was just another young actor, and there were lists of tonnes of people his age who'd done one drama or another for the BBC circulating for a while. Matt was at this point most famous for being in Party Animals which no one watched. More recently, Peter Capaldi leaked before the announcement too. William Hill was so sure he had been cast that they stopped taking bets. He leaked, the same people say, in such a way as to suggest the final casting decision had recently been made. So even if Moffat says he was the only contender, he is a notoriously unreliable narrator of what goes on behind the scenes in Doctor Who; he said, for example, that Matt was definitely not leaving after Series 6, when that tidbit leaked(!) mid-year. It's fairly likely that the bookies were right, and Ben Daniels was also in the running up until the end. He outright refused to comment on the rumours, and actually stopped tweeting from the point at which Matt announced he was leaving the show.

So, given Neil Gaiman outright said a black actor was offered the part of the Eleventh Doctor, I'm confident it must have been Chiwetel. Like Benedict Cumberbatch, who was also Moffat's choice before Matt, he must have balked when he read the PR/public appearances/eternal rights to your likeness/lunchboxes package in his contract. Production sources say it was Chiwetel and I am inclined to believe them. Besides, who else could it have been? Paterson Joseph was never seen as particularly likely and he's also a much less versatile actor. I doubt it was Idris Elba or anyone of that stature.

Anyway, my point is: Doctor Who is very leaky. The odds are the quite reliable because William Hill is in the business of knowing who's likely to win, and there are plenty of people at the BBC with loose lips.
I see what you're saying, Liam, but I still say that the rumors aren't worth trusting.

For every rumor that turns out to be true, there are 9 more that aren't. If I needed surgery and someone suggested a doctor with a 1 out of 10 survival rate, "trustworthy" is not the word I'd use.
If I needed surgery and someone suggested a doctor with a 1 out of 10 survival rate, "trustworthy" is not the word I'd use.

Good thing that you now have 12 to choose from.
I think it could very well have been Paterson Joseph, since if that rumor *is* true, it means they were working their way through the cast of "Neverwhere" :)
If it's someone who confided in Gaiman, it's more likely to be someone he's worked with closely so Paterson Joseph or Lenny Henry. Joseph has said he was very close to being the 11th Doctor and would have accepted it. It's possible he's being diplomatic but it seems more likely that the story is true; they wanted him to audition and he was in serious contention but he lost it on the day to Smith who is, despite his age and competition, born for the role in a way nobody has been since Tom Baker. So I reckon Henry. He's just the kind of person JNT would have hit up in the late 80s and early 90s -- also, I have a hunch that Gaiman would be more circumspect about commenting if it was an actor currently in contention.

Cumberbatch never got to seriously pursuing the role I don't think; if I recall, he spoke to Tennant and realised it wasn't something he wanted to pursue because of its uniquely stratospherically high profile in the UK. I would guess Ejiofor is in a similar boat. I slightly doubt it ever got as far as him turning down an offer but I expect they made approaches. I'm sure if he's interested, he'd probably walk into the job over most competition. It's a tremendous shame as I think he'd be wonderful in the role. Hopefully one day he'll take it on.
I'd rather see Cumberbatch as the Master, myself.
For what it's worth, Neil Gaiman tweeted that this story was a complete fabrication (he later deleted that, saying "why give them the page views?")

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