Harry Melling as Gilli in the BBC fantasy series “Merlin”. (Photo: BBC)
Harry Melling is best known for his role as Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter films. (Or probably best known as Dudley. It’s a safe bet that only the most hard-core Potter heads knew his actual name prior to right now.) Like most of the other Potter actors, he grew up onscreen, but unlike his co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, he’s generally kept a low profile in the years afterward. That’s finally starting to change, and a big, splashy role as the lead on Doctor Who could be a natural next step for his career. (You’d certainly know his name after that.)
Post Potter, Melling appeared in a handful of TV roles, including on Garrow’s Law, Merlin and The Musketeers. He’s got a significant role in upcoming film The Lost City of Z. And he’s done some solid theater work, including King Lear and Hand of God.
He’s young, very easy on the eyes, and comes with a built-in fanbase of young viewers, thanks to the Potter phenomenon. If the BBC really does want to go back to a Matt Smith-era set up, with a younger Doctor to splash on merchandise and encourage teen girls to swoon over, then Melling is a perfect choice. No really. Why? Let’s just say he definitely doesn’t look like Dudley anymore. At. All.
Melling even has an existing connection to Doctor Who, though he’s never appeared in the show. He’s the grandson of Patrick Troughton, who played the Second Doctor in the 1960s. Troughton died before Melling was born. But the young actor has already said he’d like to follow his grandfather’s footsteps into the TARDIS. Talk about a perfect casting story!