Doctor Who Doctors ranked by number of episodes

At 60 years old, Doctor Who is one of the longest-running science fiction shows on the planet, and over the decades has seen many great actors take on the lead role of the TARDIS travelling Time Lord, the Doctor.

From the classic series of Doctor Who which began in November 1963 with William Hartnell as the First Doctor all the way through the cancellation of the show in 1989 when Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh was lead actor to the 1996 movie with Paul McGann and the rebooted era of 2005 onwards when Russell T Davies brought the show back, Doctor Who has brought adventures in space and time to multiple generations.

And as we wait for a new era of the show, to begin with Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth and Millie Gibson joining him as Ruby Sunday in season 14 of the show, and wonder what will happen with David Tennant’s Fourteenth in the 60th anniversary specials in November 2023, we have a little time to ponder on some questions of Doctor Who-past.

We have already discovered who is the tallest Doctor Who Doctor, but now it’s time to understand who has spent the most time in the TARDIS in the last 60 years.

The following ranks the Doctors by the number of episodes they portrayed the Doctor as the lead in their own series. It does not include cameos or reappearances in other Doctor’s stories and does not include the rare occurrences of the actor playing a different character in the series.

So, as we continue to speculate about Disney+ deals and spin-off ideas, let’s discover who is the longest-serving Doctor Who Doctor…

The longest-serving Doctor Who actors ranked by episode count

13. Paul McGann

1 episode

Although Paul McGann played the Eighth and is well-loved by the Whovian fandom, he only got one solitary episode of the show to himself. It wasn’t a normal episode as it was a TV movie, and although he has popped up a couple of times on screen since in The Night of the Doctor and The Power of the Doctor and makes Big Finish audio adventures, plus fans hope for a return in the future – McGann only had one episode of his own in 96.

12. Christopher Eccleston

13 episodes

Christopher Eccleston played the Ninth Doctor Doctor in the series and was the first actor to portray the role in the modern era of the show after it was rebooted by Russell T Davies in 2005, the same man who returned in 2022 to reboot it again! Eccleston only played the lead role for one season of the show in 2005 leaving after 13 episodes to hand the baton onto David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor.

11. Colin Baker

31 episodes

Colin Baker was the penultimate Doctor of the classic Doctor Who era, playing the Sixth incarnation of the lead role between March 1984 and December 1986. In total, during his time in the TARDIS Colin Baker played the character for 8 stories across three seasons, leaving him with 31 episodes under his belt.

10. Jodie Whittaker

31 episodes

Jodie Whittaker broke new ground as the first female ever to take on the role of the Doctor full-time when she was announced as the Thirteenth Doctor back in 2018. Taking up the role from Peter Capaldi, Whittaker played the Doctor until the BBC’s 100th-anniversary special episode The Power of the Doctor in October 2022 and totted up 31 episodes of the show along the way.

The ranking continues on page 2