EastEnders star Shane Ritchie had ‘availability check’ for Doctor Who lead role

EastEnders star Shane Ritchie has said he was once considered for the lead role in Doctor Who.

The 58-year-old actor who has had a long and varied career in the entertainment industry is probably best known to British TV fans as Alfie Moon in BBC soap opera EastEnders, a part he has played on and off since 2002. However, he could have been known for a coveted science fiction role if things had turned out differently, the Doctor himself, it appears.

“The deal was I’d go in [to EastEnders] for three months, see the reaction, and then they’d talk about renewing the contract,” Ritchie told RadioTimes.com when discussing his career in the early 2000s.

“It took off, so I signed a three-year deal – but what happened in the meantime was the papers had said I was only going in for three months… and then someone said, ‘We just want to know the availability for Shane Richie to play Doctor Who.'”

Added Ritchie: “Of course, it wasn’t the monster it is now, so I didn’t think any more about it. But there was an availability check and there was some interest. I think my manager had a meeting about it. But I’d signed up to [play] Alfie for three years.”

Of course the Ninth Doctor ended up being played by Christopher Eccleston, with David Tennant taking over as the Tenth after just one season.

However, Ritchie is now working with the Doctor Who universe, voicing the character of Time Lord Drax in the latest series of Big Finish audio stories, Connections, which is based around the adventures of the Eighth Doctor.

Earlier this month Big Finish announced a huge audio production to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who which will begin its release monthly in Spring 2023. And with three hour-long TV episodes starring David Tennant, Catherine Tate and Neil Patrick Harris to come in November, there’s plenty to keep Doctor Who fans busy until Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson kick things off for season 14 of Doctor Who around the festive season.