A list of all the actors who have played Doctor Who since the series began on 23 November 1963 when William Hartnell starred as the very first doctor. Since then 13 actors have played the enigmatic timelord, and we list them all here along with how many episodes each actor was in, and for how many years, along with some other interesting facts.
Tom Baker (born 20 January 1934) is an English actor and was the fourth Doctor Who. He played the role from 1974 - 1981, starring in 172 episodes over 7 series.
Baker left school at 15 to become a monk, but after 6 years lost his faith and left, completing his national service with the Royal Army Medical Corps and then joining drama school before becoming a professional actor in the late 60's after his first marriage. He joined the National Theatre in 1968 and whilst there, he was recommended by Laurence Olivier for the role of Grigori Rasputin in the film Nicholas and Alexadra (1971) which was his first big film break, and one which saw him nominated for two Golden Globes. It was in 1974 that Baker took over from Jon Pertwee to become the Fourth Doctor, after the Doctor Who producer Barry Letts saw Baker in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973).
Baker went on to become the longest serving actor in the part, and he is one of the most popular of all the Doctors, with many of the stories from his early period being considered Doctor Who classics.
David Tennant (born 1 April 1971 ) is a Scottish actor and the tenth Doctor Who, playing the role from 2005 until 2010, and starring in 47 episodes over 3 series.
In 2006, readers of Doctor Who Magazine voted Tennant "Best Doctor" over Tom Baker who had been the recurring favourite over the years. Also during 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010, Tennant won the National Television Awards award for Most Popular Actor, and in 2008 was voted the 16th Sexiest Man in the World in a Cosmopolitan survey.
A firm fan favourite, Tennant himself was a Doctor Who fan admitting that he owned his own toy Tardis and starring as the doctor was a dream come true.
Tennant is married to actress Georgia Tennant, who is daughter of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison. They met when Georgia played his genetically engineered daughter in the episode "The Doctor's Daughter" in 2008, and were married in 2011 and have 5 children.
Patrick Troughton (1920 - 1987) was an English classically trained actor and the second Doctor Who, playing the role from 1966 until 1969, and starring in 119 episodes over 3 series.
Troughton started acting at school and eventually winning a scholarship at the John Drew Memorial Theatre on Long Island, New York.
When the Second World War began, his father arranged for his return onboard a Belgian ship which hit a sea mine and sank off the coast of Britain. However Troughton escaped in a lifeboat along with everyone else and returned home where he would join the Royal Navy in 1940, and join the war against the Nazis, going on to win medals for his service and being Mentioned in Dispatches "for outstanding courage, leadership and skill in many daring attacks on enemy shipping in hostile waters".
After the war he returned to acting, becoming the first actor to play folk hero Robin Hood on television, and going on to star in many tv shows and films before taking on the role of Doctor Who in 1966. He eventually left the show 3 years later as he found the schedule too grueling, plus had a fear of becoming typcast by the role. He was eventually replaced in 1970 by Jon Pertwee, another Second World War veteran who also served in the Navy.
Troughton died of a heart attack in 1987, two days after his 67th birthday whilst attending a science fiction convention in America.
His son Michael Troughton is an actor who appeared in the 2014 Doctor Who Christmas Special 'Last Christmas' as Professor Albert.
Jon Pertwee (1919 - 1996) was an English actor and the third Doctor Who. He played the role from 1970 until 1974, and starred in 128 episodes over 5 series. He was the third oldest actor to take on the role, at the age of 50, with his final episode when he was 54.
Like his Doctor Who predecessor, Jon Pertwee also served for the Royal Navy in World War Two, and was lucky to escape going down with HMS Hood after the German Battleship Bismarck sank it not long after Pertwee had been transferred off to go for Officer training. All but 3 men of the HMS Hood were lost from the attack. Pertwee went on to work for British Naval Intelligence, alongside Ian Flemming who eventually would write the James Bond novels.
Apart from his Doctor Who role, Pertwee was very well known for his TV role as the Scarecrow Worzel Gummidge in the late 70's and late 80's, and in fact, when he died in 1996 in Connecticut, USA, following his instructions a toy Worzel Gummidge was affixed to his coffin before his cremation.
Jon Pertwee left his role as Doctor Who in because of typecasting though he also said the death of his friend and co-star Roger Delgado (The Master) and the departure of co-star
Paul McGann (born November 1959) is an English actor who played the Eighth Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who television film.
McGann had signed a contract to appear in a new Doctor Who series as the Eighth Doctor, with the movie acting as a pilot, but the series never happened a new one wouldn't return until 2005.
Peter Capaldi (born 14 April 1958 ) is an Scottish actor and the twelfth Doctor Who, playing the role from 2013 until 2017, and starring in 40 episodes over 3 series.
A lifelong fan of the show, Capaldi revealed in an interview that he had been invited to audition for the 1996 Doctor Who film but didin't go, as he didn't think he would get it. He would later feature in a the 2008 "The Fires of Pompeii" episode with the tenth Doctor (Tennant) and his companion Donna Noble, and he also starred in Torchwood in 2009.
His final episode was the 2017 Christmas special "Twice Upon A Time", in which he was replaced by Jodie Whittaker.
Christopher Eccleston (born 16 Feb 1964) is an English actor and was the ninth Doctor Who. He played the role from March 2005 - June 2005, starring in 13 episodes over 1 series.
When Doctor Who was brought back to our screens in 2005 by fan Russell T Davies, It was Eccleston who played the doctor, making him the first actor to play the role who was born after the series had began. He left the role after just one series because of the fear of being typecast.
Eccleston was voted "Most Popular Actor" at the 2005 National Television Awards for his portrayal of the Doctor
Matt Smith (born 28 October 1982 ) is an English actor and the eleventh Doctor Who, playing the role from 2010 until 2013, and starring in 44 episodes over 3 series.
Matt Smith is the youngest actor to ever play Doctor Who, being just 26 when he got the role. He is also the first Doctor to be nominated for a BAFTA for Best Actor in his role as Doctor Who.
Smith left the role at the end of the 2013 Christmas special, a decision he would later regret, wishing he had stayed longer, owing to wanting to work longer with co-star Jenna Coleman.
Sylvester McCoy (born 20 August 1943) is a Scottish actor and was the seventh Doctor Who. He played the role from 1987- 1989, starring in 42 episodes over 3 series.
Took over from Colin Baker in 1987, and as Baker declined the invitation to do the regeneration scene, McCoy wore a wig and played the part himself. He remained on the series until it ended in 1989, though did make later appearences in a 1993 charity special, and at the beginning of the Doctor Who TV movie starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor.
McCoy plays the wizard Radagast alongside Ian McKellen in The Hobbit (2011).
Jodie Whittaker (born 17 June 1982 ) is an English actress and the thirteenth Doctor Who, playing the role since October 2018.
She is the first ever woman to play the title role of Doctor Who, with many fans showing their support for having a female as the doctor, though a "sizeable minority" were unhappy, with many criticising the casting of a female i nthe role as an eexercise in political correctness.
Whittaker has so far starred in two series, and although not confirmed, it is believed that she will be leaving the role after her third series is over.
William Hartnell (1908 - 1975) was an English actor and the first ever Doctor Who, playing the role from 1963 until 1966, and starring in 134 episodes over 4 series. He remains the second oldest actor to ever play the doctor, playing the role between the age of 55 and 58.
Hartnell was a stage and television actor who was approached for the role after Verity Lambert, the shows producer, had seen his performance in This Sporting Life. Unsure at first as it was pitched to him as a children's show, he eventually decided to as it took him away from the gruff military parts in which he'd become typecast, and also as he had grandchildren and knew the part would be popular with them and other children. It became the role in which Hartnell is most remembered for.
Throughout his time as the Doctor, he wore a wig as the character had long hair, and he described himself as a cross between the Wizard of Oz and Father Christmas.
Hartnell's health started to fail and affected his ability to learn his lines, and this combined with the fact that he did not have a good relationship with a new production team on the show led to Hatnell leaving in 1966, after suggesting Patrick Troughton should be the next doctor.
The producers had come up with the idea of the doctor regenerating his physical form as a good way of changing actors, and so Hartnell was the first Doctor Who to regenerate, as the doctors form change from himself into actor Patrick Houghton, the new Doctor Who.
Hartnell's health continued to decline during the early 70's and he passed away in his sleep in 1975 at the age of 67.
Peter Davison (born 13 April 1951) is an English actor and was the fifth Doctor Who. He played the role from 1981 - 1984, starring in 69 episodes over 3 series.
Davison regularly appeared in British sitcoms and dramas, first becoming a household name after landing the role of Tristan Farnon in the popular vet series All Creatures Great and Small.
He joined Doctor Who in 1980 on a 3 year contract, succeeding Tom Baker, and at the age of 29 became the youngest actor to play Doctor Who, a record he kept for 30 years until the 26 year old Matt Smith took on the role.
Peter Davison's daughter Georgia Moffett played Doctor Who's daughter in "The Doctor's Daughter"(2008) where she met David Tennant (The Tenth Doctor) who she would later marry in 2011.
Colin Baker (born 8 June 1943) is an English actor and was the sixth Doctor Who. He played the role from 1984 - 1986, starring in 31 episodes over 3 series.
Baker joined Doctor Who in 1984, though he had appeared in the role of Commander Maxil in the Doctor Who story Arc of infinity (1983) before he got the starring role. He was later replaced by Sylvester McCoy, but due to falling out with the BBC, Baker did not do the regeneration scene, which is something he would later regret.
In 2011, Baker accepted the presidency of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society after winning more votes than all the other candidates combined.