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Steven Moffat Reveals BBC Offered ‘Doctor Who’ Role To Black Actor

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has revealed that the role of The Doctor was once offered to a black actor before Peter Capaldi, but for reasons unknown “it didn’t work out.” Moffat also said that the series may have two non-white leads after Capaldi departs because the show “needs to do better” with showcasing diversity.

“The part has been offered to a black actor, but for various reasons it didn’t work out. Should the Doctor be black? Should the Doctor be a woman? So long as the Doctor is still the Doctor, anything is possible,” Moffat told Doctor Who magazine.

His comment stirred speculation about who exactly turned down the role. According to The Radio Times, sources who “worked on the show during the transition from Russell T. Davies to Steven Moffat claim Chiwetel Ejiofor was offered the part of the 11th Doctor.” They allege that the 12 Years a Slave star turned down the role after an agreement with the BBC couldn’t be reached, so the part was offered to Matt Smith.

Ejiofor will feature in the upcoming Doctor Strange film starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Benedict stars as Sherlock on the British-American crime drama series that was created by Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Steven also told Doctor Who magazine that the casting of Capaldi’s new companion, Pearl Mackie, whose father is from the West Indies, highlights the success of diversity on the show. He has previously pointed out that the series has some of the most ethnically diverse guest stars.

“I certainly don’t think there’s ever been a problem with making the Doctor black, which is why it should happen one day,” he said.

Moffat has previously expressed his disappointment that a black actor wasn’t chosen to replace Matt Smith. It is conceivable that a black actor, or even a woman, could play The Doctor, as the Time Lord can regenerate into any human form. Steven believes that unlike historical dramas, science fiction gives writers the freedom to explore a vivid world and one more reflective of the society we live in today.

Moffat will step down as lead producer at the end of Season 10, and will be replaced by Chris Chibnall who is most known for creating the ITV detective drama series Broadchurch, starring former Time Lord David Tennant. Doctor Who series 10 will star Capaldi on the final run of his contract.

Peter confirmed on June 3 that Season 10 starts filming in two weeks. He made the announcement while attending Dallas Comic Con in Texas alongside series co-star Michelle Gomez and his former companion Jenna Coleman. Gomez is rumored to be returning, and fans were left disappointed recently after John Barrowman hinted at reprising his role as Captain Jack, only to later deny that he’s taking part in the upcoming new season. “I have not filmed nor been asked,” John said in response to a fan’s amateur trailer.

Barrowman last appeared as Captain Jack in the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood in 2011. He has since portrayed the character in audio plays and this November he’ll reunite with co-stars Gareth David-Lloyd and Eve Myles for the audio play Torchwood: Outbreak, reports Digital Spy.

Meanwhile, the latest Doctor Who spinoff titled Class, starring Katherine Kelly, Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins and Vivian Oparah, will air on BBC Three later this year.

Doctor Who Season 10 will kick off in 2017.

[Photo by Richard Shotwell/AP]