For more than 50 years, Doctor Who‘s titular character has been portrayed by a white dude.
That may change in 2018 when new showrunner Chris Chibnall reports to duty with the Thirteenth Doctor.
Since Peter Capaldi early this year announced his departure from the long-running BBC program, fans have speculated about his successor: Kris Marshall, Tilda Swinton, Olivia Colman, and David Harewood remain odds-on favorites.
But most big-name actors aren’t likely to give up a Hollywood career just to run around Cardiff six months a year, wielding a light-up screwdriver and fighting green-screen aliens.
The BBC, however, has at least one very willing candidate.
Sacha Dhawan (left) and Mark Gatiss (right) (@sacha_dhawan via Twitter)
Sacha Dhawan—who, along with Gwendoline Christie, Hayley Atwell, Andrew Scott, Alex Kingston, and Danny Dyer, boasts 25-to-1 odds among UK bookmakers—is keen to take the TARDIS controls.
“Oh my God, I’d absolutely love to,” the Manchester-born actor told RadioTimes. “I SO would love to.”
Only 33 years old, Dhawan has been acting nearly half his life, starting with small-screen appearances in City Central, Out of Sight, The Last Train, and Weirdsister College.
American viewers may recognize him from M. Night Shyamalan’s forgotten After Earth, Jack Bauer reboot 24: Live Another Day, Jeremy Piven vehicle Mr. Selfridge, or as Ajay in the latest season of Sherlock.
He also snagged a recurring role as Davos/Steel Serpent in the new Marvel TV series Iron Fist (now streaming on Netflix).
“I’ve worked with [frequent Doctor Who collaborator Mark Gatiss] quite a lot, and I think I’d bring something really exciting to it,” Dhawan said of the part of the Thirteenth Doctor. “It’d be incredibly nerve-wracking to do, to be honest. It’s quite a lot of pressure.”
“When the list came out,” he said, referencing the novelty betting records, “I was so honored really that I was even considered. And that alone was kind of good enough. But who wouldn’t want to do it? It’s Doctor Who.”
Dhawan is already part of the Whoniverse: In 2013’s An Adventure in Space and Time (penned by Gatiss), he played Waris Hussein, the British-Indian director known for his work on the first Doctor Who serial, “An Unearthly Child,” in 1963.
“We were on set, and Peter Capaldi came on, and he was making some notes and stuff,” Dhawan recalled to Radio Times. “And I was like, ‘Oh, he’s the guy from… What’s he doing on set?’
“And Mark [Gatiss] said, ‘Oh no, he’s a huge Doctor Who fan, he just kind of wanted to come and have a look.’ I didn’t know then, but he obviously ended up being the next Doctor.”
Chibnall, still in the throes of the final season of Broadchurch, has promised himself a vacation before diving into the new job. Which means you can stop holding your breath for news of the next Doctor.
Still, fans can hope that the show’s five-decade trend will get a modern update next year. After all, Missy the gender-bending Master is one of the best new characters in recent history.
“I think it’s time that we celebrate that it should maybe be something different. I don’t know what the answer is—I guess it’s the right person for the job,” Dhawan said. “But I think it’s time to flip the character on its head slightly—and I feel that’ll very much happen this year, whether or not it’ll be someone of race or gender.
“I’m keen to see what the [BBC] do,” he added.