'Doctor Who' Lead Role Was Offered to Black Actor, Says Showrunner

Credit: Ray Burmiston/BBC
Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who and new companion Pearl Mackie

Although Steven Moffat says things "didn't work out," he thinks it would be "amazing" for the hit show to have two non-white leads.

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has revealed that the keys to the Tardis – currently occupied by Peter Capaldi – had previously been offered to a black actor.

Speaking to the official magazine of the hit BBC show, Moffat said that "for various reasons, it didn't work out," but added that this was "no excuse" not to include a more diverse cast.

The comments come just weeks after Pearl Mackie, whose father was born in the West Indies, was named the new companion, taking over for Jenna Coleman.

"We decided that the new companion was going to be non-white, and that was an absolute decision, because we need to do better on that. We just have to," Moffat said of the casting. "I don't mean that we've done terribly – our guest casts are among the most diverse on television – but I feel as though I could have done better overall."

The executive producer and lead writer, who is set to leave the show at the end of next year's season, added that he would love to see Mackie eventually joined by a black Timelord.

"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. "Two non-white leads would be amazing. In fact, a lot of people would barely notice."

Moffat said that the nature of certain shows, such as historical dramas, made diversity a challenge. "But Doctor Who has absolutely nowhere to hide on this," he said.

As for the actor in question, while Moffat didn't name any names, Paterson Joseph (Peep Show, Babylon) was heavily tipped to take the lead role in Doctor Who after David Tennant announced he was stepping down in 2008, revealing in a 2014 interview that he had auditioned. Matt Smith was eventually named as the 11th incarnation of the Doctor.