“Veteran character actor” is a phrase that could have been applied to nearly every Doctor of the classic era at the time of their ascendancy to the role. Whether it applies to the current era depends mostly on whether you consider Eccleston and Tennant character actors or Matt Smith a veteran. I think we can safely use it to describe Peter Capaldi. It’s also perhaps the best possible way to describe Paterson Joseph, setting him within the mold of the current and previous Doctors.
To American Anglophiles, Joseph is probably most recognizable for his role in Peep Show, where the played the reckless and wonderfully awful Alan Johnson. Joseph was set up by the writers to steal the scene with a well delivered one-liner, and Joseph never failed to deliver. He also showcased a skill at physical comedy. He’s worked in more traditional comedies like The Green Wing, and showed considerable dramatic chops, most recently alongside Brit Marling in Babylon.
If the producers are contemplating having a darker, more dangerous take on The Doctor (something akin to the Cartmel Master Plan, say), then Joseph’s turn on HBO’s The Leftovers is worth looking at. As Holy Wayne, Joseph swings rapidly between terrifying and comforting, managing to appear unhinged and odd even within the parameters of the very odd story. While some performers, perhaps weighed down by subject matter or writing, at times strained disbelief, Joseph never did so, despite being a more extreme character. Granted no iteration of The Doctor will ever be as dangerous as Holy Wayne, but it’s a good example of Joseph’s range.
Joseph has appeared in numerous genre productions including the 10-years too late Aeon Fluxx and Nick Frost lead Star Trek spoof Hyperdrive, so he’d be no stranger to science fiction. In fact, he’s also had a brief turn in Doctor Who as Rose Tyler’s game show nemesis in two parter “Bad Wolf” & “Parting of the Ways”. However, to get the most comparable role he’s played you might need to consider 1996’s Neil Gaiman penned Neverwhere. Gaiman reportedly has described Joseph’s role, The Marquis de Carabas, as an idealized version of The Doctor and even commented that Joseph would be ideal for the job.
What would he bring:
Presence, experience, range. Joseph has these to spare. The fact that he’s more commonly played supporting roles would allow him and Chris Chibnall to create their own Doctor without the concern of baggage from previous performances. Joseph would also be the second member of the Royal Shakespeare Company to take the mantle of the Doctor after David Tennant (Sylvester McCoy, also a member, only became so well after he left the Tardis), which could lend some critical legitimacy to the part.
What complications are there:
Joseph now has a major role in NBC’s Timeless, which may be renewed for additional seasons causing scheduling conflicts. His character is “in the field” less often than the leads, so that may not be an insurmountable problem. Besides, one thinks if NBC was keen on renewing, they’d said something by now.
The bigger question is whether he would want the role. He was the bookies favorite to take the role after David Tennant, and may even have turned it down at the time. He’s been asked about playing The Doctor in multiple recent interviews and while he never outright rejects the idea, he also tends to demur in way that’s hard to tell if he’s reluctant to put himself forward or is trying to politely signal disinterest.
An appealing choice with unquestionable ability who may not want the job.