Doctor Who is one of the longest-running science fiction series in the world and throughout the years it has not only had many different actors play the Doctor and their companions – but it has also seen some big name guest stars join the show for single episodes, multiple episodes and Christmas specials.
They played opposite many of the modern Doctor Who leads from Matt Smith and David Tennant to Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker – but there’s also a Tom Baker cameo to spot in the list too! They come from the pen of Steven Moffat, Russell T Davies and Chris Chibnall too.
Here we countdown some of our favourites from across the years, as our celebrity stars play historical figures like James I, evil villains like The Dream Lord and the The Master – as well as surprising the audience by playing the character of the Doctor themselves.
10. Kylie Minogue
The Australian actress and popstar is one of the biggest entertainment stars on the planet, and that’s why it was perhaps a surprise to see her in the 2007 Christmas special Voyage of the Damned opposite David Tennant. She played Astrid Perth, a waitress on a version of the Titanic and was getting on pretty well with the Doctor until things went wrong for her character.
9. John Cleese
This may remain one of the shortest guest appearances in the show, but with the international fame of John Cleese, this is certainly one for our list. The Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star are in the art gallery in the Tom Baker episode The City of Death broadcast in 1979. The Doctor and Romana don’t seem interested in hanging around, but that doesn’t stop us from seeing the comedy actor enjoying the art.
8. Alan Cumming
Alan Cumming is an extremely popular actor who many have even suggested should one day take over the role of the Doctor himself (maybe one day?), but for now fans will have to make do remembering his excellent performance as King James I in The Witchfinders from series eleven of the show. He brought a great mix of wit and personality to a gripping story that did Doctor Who history episodes very well indeed.
7. Jo Martin
At first, we thought she was just a human tour guide, but then when the reveal happened that Jo Martin was the Doctor – well, it solidified an extremely brilliant moment in space and time and one of the best-ever guest appearances in the science fiction show. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of Jo Martin again soon as the pilot of the TARDIS, but for now, we’ll chalk her down as one of the best guest stars.
6. Timothy Dalton
Playing Rassilon, Lord President of Gallifrey, the former 007 James Bond actor was certainly a high-profile guest for the show to have in 2009 Christmas special. He may not have had that much time on screen compared to some of the others in this list, but that which he had was used to excellently portray the leader who has gravitas and power oozing from every syllable he speaks.
5. Andrew Garfield
Spiderman himself appeared in two episodes as Frank in 2007, Daleks in Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks. This was a couple of years before he went on to become Spidey, but still, a huge name to have been in the science fiction series – and fans will always remember where they were when they saw the man from Tennessee who hitchhiked his way to New York in the show.
4. Derek Jacobi
One of the finest actors of the modern age, Jacobi is a star of stage and screen – and so what a treat it was for sci-fi fans to have him in Doctor Who. He appeared in Utopia with a story that had a serious twist when we found out that he was actually playing the master. And what better person to take on such a seriously good role than one of the national treasures of our acting nation.
3. Toby Jones
It may have only been a brief appearance as The Dream Lord in the episode Amy’s Choice, but the appearance of Toby Jones in Doctor Who was an incredibly impactful one. A character full of villainous mischief and with many tricks up his sleeve, Jones played the character brilliantly and brought a whole new level to what was already an excellent episode. Bravo.
2. Carey Mulligan
It’s often voted the best-ever episode of the modern era, and Blink, written by Steven Moffat is certainly a stone-cold classic when it comes to the genre, and at the centre of the episode was a fantastic performance by Carey Mulligan playing Sally Sparrow. In a relatively Doctor-lite episode, Mulligan is the star of the show in a brilliant guest performance that will always be remembered by fans as one of the very best.
1. John Hurt
The late great John Hurt will forever have a special place in the hearts of the Doctor Who community. One of the greatest actors of his generation, it was a privilege to have him, if only for a short time, as part of the Whoniverse, playing the War Doctor. Entering the show at the end of season seven in The Name of the Doctor, before also appearing in The Night of the Doctor and the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, Hurt was magnificent and will forever be known as one of the greats of the series.