Update: In response to this news, Grant has tweeted that this is not true. “Nothing against Dr W but I’m not. No idea where the story came from.”
Our earlier story:
The long-running series Doctor Who may have found its next doctor, in the form of actor Hugh Grant. According to the Daily Mirror, Grant is apparently the top choice for the sixtieth anniversary of the show, which brings back showrunner Russell T. Davies. A source described as a TV insider was quoted as saying that Grant would “bring a fresh feel to the role” and that “he offers many attributes – great actor, British, award-winning, Hollywood A-lister and excellent at comedy. Conversations are in progress.”
Doctor Who first premiered on the BBC in 1963 and follows a central Time Lord, the Doctor, who works with a companion to help the universe. William Hartnell was the first actor to play the doctor, and recent actors who have portrayed the lead character include Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Peter Capaldi.
The idea to cast Grant also involves an apparent expansion plan for the series: “the vision is that the show can be a Marvel-like product, building franchises around the Doctor and other key characters in his many lives. With the utmost respect to the BBC, in the past attempts like Torchwood were made on a very limited budget in locations around Wales. Now the world is Russell’s oyster.”
Davies returned to the show in 2005 and helped make it a success after a sixteen-year hiatus. He left in 2009, and ratings have since gone downhill. Jodie Whittaker became the first female doctor, the thirteenth incarnation overall, in 2017, and was reported last year to be leaving the show in 2022. She will be departing along with current showrunner Chris Chibnall, who took over from Steven Moffat in 2018.
Grant has actually played the doctor before, albeit only in a 1999 Comic Relief special. The actor has made a career for himself out of romantic comedies like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill. In recent years, he earned acclaim for his performances in the films Florence Foster Jenkins and Paddington 2. He has also appeared in other television series, earning Emmy nominations for A Very English Scandal and The Undoing.