Doctor Who: Michaela Coel Won't Be the Next Doctor, But Just Imagine

Welcome to Doctor Who Fantasy Football where we talk about casting rumours that are almost certainly not true. Michaela Coel has been on the list of possible new Doctors after Jodie Whittaker leaves. The rather elaborate rumour from weeks ago stated that Coel would not only take over as the 14th Doctor but also become the new showrunner after Chris Chibnall leaves. This is almost certainly not going to happen.

Doctor Who: Michaela Coel Won't be the Next Doctor - It Would be Cool
Michaela Coel in "I May Destroy You", not "Doctor Who", still courtesy of BBC Studios

If it does happen, it would be a big deal and make a big splash. There's never been a star who also became a writer and showrunner of Doctor Who before. It would only be for one season. This comes after Coel's triumphant, acclaimed series I May Destroy You has been nominated for Emmy awards. This is part of the usual pattern of the media picking whoever's hot at the moment and saying they're the next Doctor. The idea that she would both star in and write Doctor Who, possibly even direct some episodes, would certainly get the BBC a lot of hype.

This is almost certainly not going to happen. It has as much chance of happening as Phoebe Waller-Bridge becoming the next Doctor. Like Coel, Waller-Bridge is one of the hottest new writer-actors out there after Fleabag and Killing Eve. Their profiles are now higher than Doctor Who's. They're getting big offers and deals for the next shows they're going to create and star in, not to mention movie deals. To star in Doctor Who now is a step down in their careers. It would not raise their profiles at all.

But if Coel were to channel her considerable talents into Doctor Who, it could be very cool. She is the kind of writer-actor-director that only comes along once a generation. Her writing is uncompromising, unpredictable, insightful, surprising, funny, and fearless. Her previous show, the sitcom Chewing Gum, adapted from her original one-woman play, put her on the map with its portrayal of hijinks in South London council estate life. She channeled her real-life trauma into I May Destroy You, writing over 100 drafts of the scripts to get it absolutely right before production. This cannot happen with Doctor Who, since the show needs a quick turnaround and burns through ideas like toilet paper. However, given Coel's imagination and grasp of storytelling, she could create a fabulous season of Doctor Who, featuring new monsters, clever scripts, emotional stories that feel more real than usual, and with an amazing costume. We can only dream.

What's interesting is how Coel is now at the centre of geek pop culture speculation. She has been cast in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Fans are speculating who she might be playing. If Marvel Studios really wanted to make the internet explode, they should cast her as the new Black Panther.

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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