The Master is one of the Doctors most iconic enemies. Having faced almost every incarnation of the Time Lord on screen, the Master has also been responsible for the death’s of more incarnations of the Doctor than any other villain in the series.
Despite this however it has now been four years since the renegade Time Lord last graced our screens, and personally I think he’s due a comeback against Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. In this list I am going to run through 10 actors that I think would be excellent as the villain.
This is assuming that John Simm (who is still as of the writing of this article the incumbent in the role) does not want to come back. Contrary to popular belief, Simm does not shun Doctor Who or its fans. Simm has said that he is very proud to have been a part of the franchise.
Nevertheless Simm generally seems to talk about the Master as though it’s in his past. If Simm did want to reprise his role, I would be more than happy, but since he does appear to have left, these are the men who I think would be good as his replacement.
10/ Michael Wincott
Michael Wincott is an actor known for playing mostly villainous characters. By far and away my favourite performance of his is as Topdollar, the main villain in “The Crow”. Topdollar is a truly loathsome character. Among his many crimes include stabbing his lackeys in the throat with swords, throwing young girls off of roof tops for fun and organising the rape and brutal murder of the main heroes girlfriend. To top it off he regularly sleeps with his sister too!
If Wincott were to be cast as the Master, I think he would take us back to the Peter Pratt/Geoffrey Beavers type of Master. Their version of the character was more gritty, vicious and in some ways more terrifying than the other Masters.
9/ David Warner
I was not sure whether to include Warner here, as I think he would be a great Doctor too. Warner has played the Doctor in two audio stories set in an alternate universe, and with Capaldi’s casting, the door has been opened for an older actor to play the role once again.
However I have still decided to list David Warner anyway, as he would be a perfect Master too.
Throughout his career Warner has played a number of charming, affable villains, though at the same time as his performance in Hornblower attests he could also bring a really fanatical side to the Master too. To date Warner has only had one on screen role in Doctor Who, but it was a relatively small one, so he could still play the Master and I think he would ace it.
8/ Jason Watkins
Watkins has been in Doctor Who before in the episode “Nightmare in Silver” in a very minor role. Personally I think he should be given a bigger part, even if he doesn’t get to play the Master, as he is a damn fine actor who was criminally wasted in that episode. Watkins is most famous for playing the evil Vampire Herrick in “Being Human”. In that role Watkins showed that he was perfect at playing the charming, intelligent, icy, sly villain who is a master at manipulating people. His Master would be comparable to Donald Pleasance as Blofeld in the sense of being physically quite small and weaj, but still a very commanding presence.
7/ Benedict Cumberbatch
Not an original choice I know. Cumberbatch was rumoured to play the role back in 2011. Many felt he would have been the perfect Master opposite Smith’s Doctor. Sadly however this never happened, and most fans appear to have given up on Cumberbatch as the Master.
I still say though that he could be quite a good match for Capaldi’s Doctor too. It might be quite good to have the Master played by a much younger actor than the Doctor.
Cumberbatch could easily play a villain. I was not too happy with his Khan, but I think that was just because he was miscast. He would be a much better fit for the Master. The only problem with Cumberbatch’s casting however is that it would feel like it was pandering to the fans wishes for a Doctor Who/ Sherlock crossover.
6/ Reece Shearsmith
Whilst primarily known as a comedic actor, Shearsmith is a very talented serious actor too, as evidenced by his stellar performance as the serial killer Malcolm Webster. Shearsmith is a lifelong Doctor Who fan too, and so I’m sure he’d be more than happy to play the Master. However if Shearsmith were given the role, due to his close friendship with Gatiss I suspect most people would probably think it was because of nepotism.
5/ Christopher Heyerdahl
Christopher Heyerdahl is a character actor who has been in a number of tv series, with his most famous role arguably being that of the twisted Demon torturer Alistair in Supernatural. Personally I found him to be the most frightening villain in the entire series. He would play the Master as a genuinely unhinged character like John Simm, but again it would be in a less sympathetic and more grotesque way.
4/ Charles Dance
Charles Dance is currently rumoured to play the Master in series 8. By this point if he doesn’t play the role, I imagine there will be a national outrage! With this in mind I don’t have to explain why Dance would be perfect do I?
Very few people are as menacing and have as commanding a presence as Charles Dance. Dance would be a real return to the Delgado type of Master, the older more charming villain, which would make him a great match against Capaldi’s Doctor, who I feel has a touch of Pertwee.
3/ Paul Darrow
Paul Darrow is best known for playing televisions greatest anti hero, Kerr Avon on Blake’s 7. Darrow would be a very ruthless Master. In complete contrast to Simm’s overly emotional performance, I see Darrow as being a very cold, practical Master who cares for literally nothing but himself. Somewhat similar to Jacobi’s brief performance, I always felt it was a shame we didn’t get to see more of Jacobi, (not that Simm wasn’t great.) With the casting of Capaldi as an older more ruthless Doctor, then I think Paul Darrow would be a brilliant match for him.
2/ Simon Templeman
Simon Templeman is an English actor, whose voice is probably better known than his name. He played the Vampire Kain in “The Legacy of Kain” video game series. He is also known for voicing Doctor Doom in the 1990’s “Fantastic Four” and”Incredible Hulk” animated series.
He has also had many prominent live action roles too. He played the evil spectre Parvayne in the “Angel” episode “Hellbound” as well as the Angel of Death on “Charmed” and also had a starring role on the American Sci Fi comedy “The Neighbours”.
Templeman has an amazing voice and can make a villain seem, affable, witty and charming, yet menacing at the same time. Like Dance, Templeman would be a return to the Delgado type of Master.
Templeman I think would be able to capture the Master’s sneering arrogance, and fanatical lust for power, just like he did with Doctor Doom.
Seriously imagine this guy playing the Master. With that voice he would just be perfect. I can imagine him meeting Strax and telling him he had a “very left brain personality”.
1/ Robert Carlyle
Now once again I wasn’t sure on whether to include him here, as Carlyle I think would also be a perfect choice for the Doctor too. Carlyle’s name has been linked to the Doctor many times in the past. He even expressed an interest in the role back in 2008.
Sadly though I don’t think we will ever see him as the Doctor now. Even if he is available after Capaldi leaves (which hopefully wont be any time soon.) I can’t imagine them casting him right after Capaldi. He would be too similar, another older, intense Scottish guy.
However that does not mean we can’t have him in Doctor Who at all, and I think he would be equally brilliant as the Master.
Carlyle is excellent at playing villains. He has played some of the nastiest villains on television and film. The last thing you ever want to be is at the mercy of a Robert Carlyle villain.
Here are some of the most horrible and disgusting ways Carlyle has killed people.
Its safe to say that Carlyle would probably give us the darkest version of the Master seen yet, which would match perfectly with Peter Capaldi’s darker Doctor. Out of everybody in this list Carlyle would be the best match for Capaldi. Both older, more experienced Scottish actors who are known for playing, darker,, angry intense characters.
That would be an epic showdown even outside of Doctor Who.
There is always the possibility that the Master may have already returned. It’s early days yet, but many people think think that the mysterious season 8 villain Missy is in fact the Master.
Personally I hope this isn’t true. I don’t think it would be a good idea to turn the Master into a woman for a number of reasons. Firstly I am not a fan of Time Lord gender bending. It’s not because I have a problem with transgender characters, but time lord gender bending is a different thing as it to me seems to contradict what we have seen before. I know there was that one line in “The Doctors Wife“, that said they can gender bend, but that was one line, and all of the Time Lords we have seen before haven’t.
The Doctor burnt out an entire regeneration cycle, Azmahel burnt out a whole regeneration cycle, The Master burnt out an entire regeneration cycle, Romana regenerated 3 times, Borusa regenerated twice, River regenerated twice, yet none of these characters changed sex? It also doesn’t seem logical as Time Lords do have a gender identity. Gender identity exists. I am not saying that men and women aren’t equal, but to say gender identity doesn’t is quite frankly, a denial of reality.
Also I don’t like gender blind casting either, again not because I have a problem with strong female characters, but because I think that it’s a lazy and boring way to offer better representation towards women. It’s much better I think to create new female characters like Xena, Buffy, Wonder Women etc rather than just briefly turn male characters into women. It’s almost as though writers today can’t be bothered to think up new female characters.
Also I don’t want Missy to be the Master as she refers to the Doctor as her boyfriend. Now again I have no problems with gay characters, I love Xena and Gabrielle, Willow and Tara and Jack and Ianto, but I am getting very bored with people always making out that the villain and the hero have to secretly be gay for one another. Batman and the Joker, Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, Buffy and Faith, and Xena and Callisto. It’s become an awful cliche, and most of the time it leads to nothing but childish gay jokes anyway, like 10 making the joke about the Master’s “beard” in “Timecrash”.
People often argue that there was always sexual tension between the Master and the Doctor in Classic Who, but there wasn’t. Roger Delgado and Jon Pertwee had always believed from the beginning that the Master and the Doctor were secretly brothers, and Ainley also believed this too. In fact it is implied in “Planet of Fire” that this is the case. Whilst Russell T Davies rubbished this in “The Sound of Drums”, the fact that the previous actors and writers in the role viewed it that way shows that they obviously didn’t play them as secret lovers!.
If they need to give the Doctor a female villain, then either bring back the Rani, or better yet invent a new female villain!
Personally I hope Missy is something new, as we could be doing with some more prominent new Who villains rather than just the Weeping Angels. So far we have only had one season where the main villain didn’t originate from the Classic Who.
I personally hope that Missy is the Time Lord Clara, who told the Doctor what TARDIS to steal, that we saw from The Name of the Doctor.
I think it would be interesting if this version of Clara, after having regenerated into Michelle Gomez’s form, fled Gallifrey and in a further desire to help the Doctor, began downloading the minds of people that the Doctor had failed to save into a Matrix like virtual world.
They could also have Missy be the one who brought Clara and the Doctor together, as she would need them to meet in order to be born too.
However those are just my opinions, and I am sure you have yours. Let me know what you think in the comments section.
I love your choices! Robert Carlyle would make a fantastic Master! He was well cast as Rumpelstiltskin on Once Upon a Time and after I saw him on that show, I wanted to see him as The Doctor! David Warner and Charles Dance would also be great choices, I love David Warner’s voice, it’s so sophisticated and commanding!
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