7 stars who appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before they were famous

Posted Filed under

Many Doctors and companions have gone on to great (but not greater, of course!) things after leaving Doctor Who.

The show is often also lucky enough to nab up-and-coming young actors for guest roles before they make their way to fame and fortune.

Some of them played fan favourites and Who viewers got to see their potential before the rest of the world. Others only turned up in parts so small you probably never even knew it was them. Either way, the makers of Doctor Who spotted something in these young talents and gave them an early break.

So read on for seven household names who appeared in Doctor Who before they were famous…


Jonny Lee Miller

Doctor Who Jonny Lee Miller

British actor Jonny Lee Miller’s breakout role was in Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting in 1996, which led to a highly successful career in the US (including a brief marriage to Angelina Jolie). He can currently be seen as Sherlock Holmes in Elementary.

But we bet you didn’t know that, 14 years before Trainspotting, a nine-year-old Miller appeared in Doctor Who. He turned up in 1982’s Peter Davison classic ‘Kinda’, known for its intelligent writing, Buddhist themes and big rubbery snake monster.

Young Jonny plays one of the natives of the planet Deva Loka.


Martin Clunes

Doctor Who Martin Clunes

Strangely enough, that story’s sequel ‘Snakedance’ also featured a future star in an early role.

While he wasn’t as young as Miller in ‘Kinda’, Doc Martin himself Martin Clunes appeared in the show when he was a sprightly 21. He played Manussan prince Lon, who is possessed by the Mara (the aforementioned rubbery snake monster). Clunes actually gave a very good performance – but his Doctor Who stint is best remembered for the hilarious headgear he wore for the part.

Years later, it was rumoured that Clunes was approached to play the Eleventh Doctor. We like to think he would have brought the hat back with him.


Marc Warren

Doctor who Love and Monsters elton Marc Warren

Yes, we know that Marc Warren had already been in Hustle for years before he played Elton Pope in 2006’s Doctor-lite episode ‘Love & Monsters.’ However, it is a little known fact that the actor appeared as an uncredited extra in a classic Doctor Who story.

That story was ‘Battlefield’, one of the final serials produced in the original run. Fans know it as the one which teamed the Seventh Doctor up with the Brigadier for the only time as they came face to face with figures from Arthurian legend.

If you can spot Marc Warren anywhere in the adventure you have better eyes than us. We promise he is in there somewhere, though!


Andrew Garfield

Andrew Garfield Doctor Who

Before he was stopping supervillains in New York as The Amazing Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield was helping the Doctor defeat the Daleks in old timey Manhattan instead.

He appeared as young Tennessean Frank in 2007’s two-parter, ‘Daleks in Manhattan’ and ‘Evolution of the Daleks’. Just three years later he got his big Hollywood break in 2010 biopic The Social Network.

We don’t get to find out much about Frank. Not even his surname. But could it be… Parker? And maybe a certain descendant of his got bitten by a radioactive spider?

We’re calling it – Spider-Man exists in the Doctor Who universe!


Carey Mulligan

Doctor Who Blink Sally Sparrow

If you are going to have an episode with a minimal amount of the Doctor, you need a stand-in lead with enough charisma and talent to fill in for him. It makes a lot of sense, then, that the star of ‘Blink’ went onto have a prosperous movie career.

After playing Sally Sparrow in the Steven Moffat modern classic, Carey Mulligan went on to find stardom in 2009’s An Education, for which she was nominated for an Oscar. More success followed in the likes of The Great Gatsby, Suffragette and Far From the Madding Crowd.

In fact, Carey Mulligan’s had more hit movies than Sally Sparrow has DVDs…


Felicity Jones

Felicity Jones Doctor Who The Unicorn and the Wasp

The eponymous jewel thief the Unicorn from Agatha Christie-inspired episode ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’ wasn’t actually that great a thief – seeing as the Doctor stopped her stealing Lady Eddington’s necklace.

However, the actress who played her, Felicity Jones, has since managed to steal herself an Oscar nomination for her role as Stephen Hawking’s wife Jane in biopic The Theory of Everything.

Jones will return to the purview of sci-fi fans this year in latest Star Wars film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. She will again need to call on some of the Unicorn’s know-how as her character will be charged with stealing the plans for the Death Star from the Empire.


Colin Morgan

Doctor Who Midnight Colin Morgan

Before landing the lead role in hit BBC fantasy drama Merlin, Colin Morgan appeared in David Tennant’s 2008 Doctor Who episode ‘Midnight’ – otherwise known as ‘The One with the Creepy Copycat Lady.’ He plays Jethro, the teenage son of Val and Biff Kane.

Coincidentally, Morgan’s Merlin co-star Tom Hopper was also in Doctor Who before landing his most famous role as Sir Percival. Hopper played Jeff, he of the dodgy internet history, in Matt Smith’s debut ‘The Eleventh Hour.’

And, speaking of Matt Smith, he was also in the running to play Merlin before his own most famous role as the Doctor!


Which other stars appeared in Doctor Who before they were famous? Let us know below…

> Follow Christian Bone on Twitter.

> Read more of Christian’s musings on TV, films and books over on his blog.