The lead role in Doctor Who was offered to a black actor who turned it down, one of the BBC One show’s writers has said.
Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman – who has scripted editions of the programme – said he still hoped a non-white star would take the role one day.
He made the revelation on his blog shortly after Peter Capaldi was announced as the next regeneration of the Time Lord, but said it felt like a ‘missed opportunity’.
“Would I like a person of colour as the Doctor? Absolutely,” he said, and went on: “I have no doubt there will be. I know one black actor who was already offered the part of the Doctor, and who turned it down.”
Gaiman did not make it clear whether it was for the latest round of casting or during a previous search, such as when Matt Smith won the role as the 11th Doctor. Doctor Who’s executive producer Steven Moffatt suggested he only ever had Capaldi in mind.
“Yes. The list went ‘Peter Capaldi’ – it was a very short list,” Moffatt said when the new Doctor was announced at the weekend.
Gaiman said the part should go to the most suitable actor regardless of skin colour.
“Paterson Joseph was the Marquis de Carabas in Neverwhere, because he aced the auditions, and beat all the other actors, mostly white, who tried out for the role. I’d want that kind of performance at the audition for the Doctor. And there are certainly actors good enough out there that it feels like a missed opportunity.”
He added: “I was rather disappointed that Paterson Joseph didn’t get it last time, although I’ve loved Matt’s 11.”