Ben Daniels in Season 2 of period drama “The Paradise”. (Photo: BBC)
Ben Daniels apparently keeps getting this close to playing the Doctor. Rumors surrounded him back during the Twelfth Doctor’s casting – his name just kept coming up in story after story. (He too was a bookie’s favorite at one point. So watch out, Ben Whishaw.) And according to an interview he gave Digital Spy back then, there was a reason for that. Because he almost got the part. Obviously, Daniels was ultimately edged out by current Doctor Peter Capaldi. But it sounds as though he got quite close in the Doctor Who casting sweepstakes. Just not close enough.
Daniels boasts an extensive resume, with performances in everything from period dramas to muder mysteries to procedurals. He starred opposite former Doctor Who companion Freema Agyeman in Law and Order UK, and had major recent roles in The Paradise, House of Cards, Flesh Jamaica Inn and the latest series of The Hollow Crown. Currently, he’s starring on FOX’s TV adaptation of famous horror movie The Exorcist. The show didn’t exactly kill it as far as ratings go, so there’s no guarantee it’ll return for a second season. Maybe Daniels is about to need a new job? Of course, it’s equally likely that The Exorcist sitting in production limbo while Who casting decisions get made might take Daniels out of the running entirely. But who knows? The world of television is real weird.
Daniels is a huge fan of the show, apparently. In fact, he’s the kind of fan that both watched it as a kid (Pertwee enthusiast) and also when it came back with Christopher Eccleston in 2005. So if we have to have another Doctor who’s both white and male, well. At least let the part go to a fan who might infuse the role with something layered and interesting. While Daniels is a bit older than it would seem the BBC is aiming for at present, he’s still very dishy. (Shallow, I realize, but true.) There’s something to be said for a slightly more distinguished gentleman kind of vibe. It could definitely work.