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Hugh Grant, Judi Dench and more: 5 stars who were almost 'Doctor Who'

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Ben Daniels (House of Cards, The Paradise) was briefly the bookies' favourite to become the new star of Doctor Who and has now revealed to Digital Spy that he was indeed in the running before the role went to a certain Peter Capaldi...

> Ben Daniels on Doctor Who: 'I was approached to be the 12th Doctor'

Of course, Daniels isn't the first actor to come close but fall just short of Doctor Who stardom - here's five more stars who we very nearly saw at the TARDIS controls...

Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant

© WENN



When Russell T Davies was looking for a big name to help relaunch Doctor Who in 2005, he first turned to Grant, the king of '90s Brit rom-coms. While "highly flattered", Grant turned down the role of the ninth Doctor - eventually taken by Christopher Eccleston - for fear that the revived sci-fi drama would turn out to be a flop.

Hugh later admitted to regretting his decision once he actually saw new Who - but by then it was too late. At least he got to strut his Time Lord stuff in Steven Moffat's 1999 comic relief sketch The Curse of Fatal Death.

Bernard Cribbins

Bernard Cribbins collects his OBE

© PA Images



Cribbins has twice delved into the worlds of Doctor Who - first opposite Peter Cushing in 1966 film Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2150 AD and later with David Tennant as loveable Wilfred Mott - and once even came close to playing the show's title role, as he explained to DS earlier this year...

"I did go along for an interview when Jon Pertwee left," he explained. "I sat there with the producer and he said, 'What can you do?'. I said, 'Well, I was a paratrooper, so I can fight…' and he said, 'Oh no, no, no, no fighting at all!'

"Of course, Tom Baker got the job and one of the first things he did was knock somebody out!"

Richard Griffiths

Richard Griffiths

© PA Images / Kathy Willens/AP

Richard Griffiths



Griffiths was a perennial favourite of the Doctor Who casting team. The late Withnail and I legend was considered to take up the reins when Tom Baker left, and - had Doctor Who continued past its original expiry date of December 1989 - he was also in line to replace Sylvester McCoy...

Bill Nighy

Richard Curtis and Bill Nighy

© PA Images / Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Richard Curtis and Bill Nighy



Another pre-Eccleston candidate for Doctor number nine, Nighy was named as an early favourite of showrunner RTD. One tabloid even got overexcited and printed Nighy's name instead of Eccleston's when the casting was finally announced...

Still, Bill eventually popped up in Who - re-teaming with his Love Actually chum Richard Curtis for an uncredited cameo in the acclaimed episode 'Vincent and the Doctor' - and recently had some nice words to say about the 12th Doc, Peter Capaldi.

Judi Dench

Dame Judi Dench
James Bond Skyfall World Premiere held at the Royal Albert Hall- Arrivals
London, England

© WENN / Lia Toby/WENN.com



Yes, Dame Judi could have been the first female Doctor. Back in 2003, Jane Tranter - then the BBC's controller of drama commissioning - wanted Dench at the helm of the TARDIS.

It might be hard to imagine Dench dashing down corridors with Billie Piper, but if her run as James Bond's boss M has proved anything, it's that Judi's steely and stern enough to have even the Daleks quaking in their casings.

Hugh, Bill, Bernard... would any of them have worked as Doctor Who's lead? Share your thoughts below!

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