Doctor Who is a British institution, and while it’s made household names of the actors who take on the mantle of The Doctor, it’s also cast many stars in guest roles. So, with that in mind, we took a journey through the iconic modern era run of the beloved BBC show, and found 32 famous actors who played a minor role in this time lord’s journey.
While we know and love Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton on one of Netflix’s best series, Bridgerton, and as Fiyero in the Wicked cast, you might not be aware that he was in Season 8 of Doctor Who in the episode “Time Heist.” He starred alongside Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor, playing the hacker Psi.
Brett Goldstein appeared in the Season 11 episode “The Tsuranga Conundrum '' alongside Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor. During the episode that saw The Doctor and co. stuck on a spaceship while an enemy tries to destroy it, and the Emmy-winning actor played the head nurse Astos. Then, two years later, Goldstein became a household name when he joined the Ted Lasso cast as the beloved grouchy player-turned-coach Roy Kent.
Before Carey Mulligan starred in movies like Drive, Promising Young Woman and Maestro, she played the young Sally Sparrow in the Season 3 episode “Blink.” Not only is this episode one with some of Doctor Who’s best quotes, but it’s also one of the most iconic stories in the show’s history as David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor took on the Weeping Angels.
In one of Doctor Who’s best episodes, and Matt Smith’s first as the Eleventh iteration of the time lord, Olivia Colman played “Mother,” a woman who is taken over by Patient Zero in “The Eleventh Hour.” After that, the actress, of course, went on to win an Oscar for The Favourite, and she starred in various other successful projects including the film The Lost Daughter, and the series Broadchurch and The Crown.
Long before James Corden was hosting The Late Late Show, he guest starred in two of Matt Smith’s episodes as his pal and flatmate Craig, most notably in the Season 5 episode “The Lodger.”
He may be best known as The Amazing Spider-Man and for films like The Social Network and Tick, Tick…Boom! but before all that, Andrew Garfield starred alongside David Tennant in two Doctor Who episodes, “Daleks in Manhattan” and “Evolution of the Daleks.” He played Frank, a boy who gets the Doctor to help get rid of the Daleks.
In one of the most moving episodes of Doctor Who, “Vincent and The Doctor,” Bill Nighy plays Dr. Black, who works at the museum where Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portrait is held. Before starring in the emotional Matt Smith-led episode all about the aforementioned painter, Nighy was best known for movies like Love, Actually and Pirates of the Caribbean. Since then, he’s been in films including About Time, Emma. and Living, which he got an Oscar nomination for.
You know Daniel Kaluuya? That’s right, the star of Jordan Peele’s movies Get Out and Nope and the man who won an Oscar for Judas and The Black Messiah. Well, before all of that, he played Barclay in Season 4 of Doctor Who in the episode “Planet of the Dead,” where he helped the Tenth Doctor fix an engine after a double-decker bus they were on got stuck in a very sandy place.
Before she entered a galaxy far, far away in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story or received her Oscar nomination for The Theory of Everything, Felicity Jones guest starred on Doctor Who. In 2008, she played Robina Redmond opposite the Tenth Doctor in the episode “The Unicorn and the Wasp,” which was a fun take on Agatha Christie and her mysteries.
While you don’t see Sir Ian McKellen in Doctor Who, his voice is undeniable, as he was the man behind The Great Intelligence in Matt Smith’s 2012 Christmas special “The Snowmen.” This special appearance was just another feather in this iconic British actor’s cap in the world of genre as he’s best known for playing Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films as well as Magneto in the X-Men movies.
Obviously, we know Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, an integral character in the Game of Thrones cast. However, she also starred in another series that’s considered a British institution when she appeared in four of Peter Capaldi’s Season 9 Doctor Who episodes – “The Girl Who Died,” “The Woman Who Lived,” “Face the Raven'' and “Hell Bent” – as Ashildr (AKA Me) the immortal Viking.
In Doctor Who’s 2010 Christmas special, “A Christmas Carol,” the Eleventh Doctor finds himself with a very Scrooge-like character named Kazran Sardick, played by the late Michael Gambon. The actor also played the antagonist’s father Elliot Sardick. Of course, before this, he also starred in another tentpole fantasy franchise by playing Albus Dumbledore in six of the eight Harry Potter movies.
In the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, John Hurt joined Matt Smith and David Tennant as a regeneration of the time lord named the War Doctor, who lived between the eighth and ninth versions of The Doctor. He was, of course, played by the late great John Hurt, who was known for iconic films like Alien and The Elephant Man. He was a legendary British actor, and he played a pivotal role in the long-running BBC series.
From the beloved and star-studded rom-com Crazy Rich Asians to Marvel’s The Eternals, Gemma Chan’s star has grown immensely over the last few years. However, before that, she played geologist Mia Bennett in the 2009 episode “The Waters of Mars” alongside David Tennant’s Doctor.
David Tennant plays the demon to Michael Sheen’s angel in Good Omens, but before they shared the screen together, the Aziraphale actor voiced a House on the show that made his co-star a household name. During Matt Smith’s run as The Doctor during the episode “The Doctor’s Wife,” the actor known for Frost/Nixon and Masters of Sex voiced the evil entity that lived just outside the universe.
Richard E. Grant
With over 140 credits to his name, including Gosford Park and Hudson Hawk, Richard E. Grant is a legendary British actor. In Doctor Who he played an equally iconic role as the antagonist Dr. Simeon in the Eleventh Doctor-led Christmas special “The Snowmen.” After that, the actor who played a variant of Loki in Marvel’s most timey-wimey show, returned to Dr. Simeon for the Season 7 episode “The Name of the Doctor.”
As one of the first big actors to guest star in Ncuti Gatwa’s run as the Fifteenth Doctor, Jonathan Groff joined the cast for a Regency-era episode. Before making a brief appearance on Doctor Who, Groff made a name for himself on Broadway in shows including Merrily We Roll Along and Hamilton. He also voiced Kristoff in both Frozen films, and starred in David Fincher’s series Mindhunter. Talk about range.
During the Thirteenth Doctor’s run, Stephen Fry played a role in the Season 12 episode “Spyfall" as C, the head of MI6. An iconic character actor, Fry has over 190 credits to his name, and he is best known for films like Wilde and V for Vendetta.
Long before he was choosing to accept missions with Tom Cruise in the Mission: Impossible movies and leading Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy – which is Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End – Simon Pegg guest starred on Doctor Who. He played The Editor in Season 1 of the modern era, and went up against Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth generation of the time lord.
Yes, you read that right, Australian pop icon Kylie Minogue, singer of “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” and “Chiggy Wiggy,” did star in a 2007 episode of Doctor Who titled “Voyage of the Damned.” During Season 4, she was featured alongside Tennant’s Doctor as Astrid, an alien waitress.
Helen McCrory played Rosanna in the 2010 Doctor Who episode “The Vampires of Venice.” The Peaky Blinders star joined Matt Smith’s Doctor as the leader of the Saturnyns. Along with the two iconic BBC shows, the actress also played Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies and starred in The Count of Monte Cristo.
In the episode “Amy’s Choice,” Toby Jones played the Dream Lord. This spooky villain that comes from the darker side of The Eleventh Doctor is another fun character in Jones’ cap, as he also voiced Dobby in the Harry Potter films and played Dr. Zola in the Captain America movies as well as Claudius Templesmith in The Hunger Games.
Neil Patrick Harris
Joining the episode of the three-part 60th Anniversary special, Neil Patrick Harris played the Toymaker and witnessed the historic bi-generation. The How I Met Your Mother alum faced off against David Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor as well as Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor.
Yep, you read that right, James Bond was in Doctor Who too. Timothy Dalton – who played 007 in License to Kill and The Living Daylights – guest starred in the Tenth Doctor’s 2009 episodes “End of Time” parts one and two where he played The Narrator and Lord President Rassilon, the founder and first leader of The Doctor’s home planet, Gallifrey.
In “End of Time,” Brian Cox wasn’t seen on screen with David Tennant, however, you can hear him, because he voiced Elder Ood, who is of an alien race the Doctor works to protect. While you don’t see Cox physically in the episode, you can see him as the patriarch of the Succession cast, Logan Roy, and you can check out movies of his, including Troy and Manhunter.
Letitia Wright’s future is as the Black Panther, but prior to playing Shuri in the MCU and starring in other fun projects, she appeared in the Season 9 episode “Face the Raven” with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. In Doctor Who, she played Anahson, an orphan looking for her mother.
While Gugu Mbatha-Raw is best known for travelling through time and space as Ravonna Renslayer in Loki, she also played Tish Jones in four episodes of Doctor Who’s fourth season alongside David Tennant. The actress who played Martha’s sister in these episodes then went on to star in many films, including Belle, and series like The Morning Show.
You likely know Thomas Brodie-Sangster as the kid from Love, Actually or from his work in The Maze Runner movies and The Queen’s Gambit. However, he also starred in a pair of Doctor Who episodes in Season 3 alongside David Tennant as Tim Latimer, a schoolboy from 1913.
The host of The Traitors and star of The Good Wife, Alan Cumming starred as King James I in the Season 11 episode “The Witchfinders.” In the episode featuring the Thirteenth Doctor, this star of stage and screen played the king of a nation that was in the midst of a witch trial when the time lord showed up.
Iain Glen played Octavian in the 2010 Doctor Who episodes titled “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone.” While the actor made a name for himself on Game of Thrones as Jorah, Daenerys’ protector, he was trying to protect his team and The Doctor from the Weeping Angels in this set of Matt Smith-led episodes.
Anthony Head played Rupert Giles in 123 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Uther Pendragon in 43 episodes of Merlin. He also portrayed the evil headmaster Lassar in one episode of Doctor Who – “School Reunion” – back in its second season alongside David Tennant.
You likely remember Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm from Game of Thrones or Louis de Pointe du Lac in the series Interview with a Vampire. In the midst of all that, he joined Season 13 of Doctor Who for a recurring role as Vinder, a pilot and guardian who watches from Observation Outpost Rose and worked with the Thirteenth Doctor across seven episodes.
As you can see, the list of actors who have made minor appearances on Doctor Who is long and wickedly impressive. From legendary actors like Ian McKellen and Olivia Colman and modern TV staples like Jonathan Bailey and Brett Goldstein, it’s hard to believe that all these folks aided (or tried to stop) The Doctor on their wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey journey through time and space, but they all did!