According to a tabloid report, Martin Clunes was almost the new Doctor Who, until he pulled out in a dispute over pay.

Ther versatile 47-year-old star of Doc Martin apparently pulled out of the Christmas special, The Next Doctor, four days before filming began and was replaced by David Morrissey.

Producers had wanted to give Clunes the permanent role, according to the Daily Mirror.

On Monday, Clunes’ agent admitted he had been approached for the Doctor Who Christmas special, but denied there was a dispute over cash and that the deal collapsed four days before filming.

But a source told the Daily Mirror: “Talent comes at a price and the show could simply not afford Martin. It’s a shame as he would have been perfect.”

The Doctor Who role went to relatively unknown 26-year-old actor Matt Smith.

Clunes’s first ever job in TV was in Doctor Who in 1983, alongside Peter Davison as the Time Lord. Talking about the role on Parkinson, Clunes once joked: “I thought that I was brilliant. I do remember thinking at the time, ‘pretty good stuff, Clunesy’.”

A Doctor Who spokesman said: “We don’t comment on casting.”

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