New Study Ranks The Most Popular Doctor Who Actors

As actor Ncuti Gatwa debuted season 14 as the Fifteenth Doctor two weeks ago, a new ranking has revealed the most loved actors who have previously played the iconic titular role. 

As actor Ncuti Gatwa debuted season 14 as the Fifteenth Doctor two weeks ago, a new ranking has revealed the most loved actors who have previously played the iconic titular role.  

According to the results, David Tennant is the most loved Doctor Who actor with 9,066 votes, followed by Matt Smith with 7,996 votes.  

On the opposite end of the study, the short-lived Eighth Doctor actor Paul McGann sits at the bottom of the list with a mere 3,210 votes. 

A new report has revealed the most popular Doctor Who actors after the new season’s release on the 11th 

The study, researched by the company QR Code Generator, looked at public votes for their favourite Doctors on Ranker, naming the best-loved actors across the show’s nearly 60-year-long tenure. There is currently no data for Ncuti Gatwa, meaning the poll focused on those who have previously played the role.

In first place is Scottish actor David Tennant, who had 9,066 votes and played the Tenth Doctor from 2005 to 2010. The actor stated that the show initially inspired him to get into acting, and landing the role as the Doctor was his dream. Playing the titular character gained him mass popularity and changed his life for the better; Tennant even met his future wife – actress Georgia Tennant, who played the Doctor’s daughter Jenny- on set. 

Matt Smith takes second place with 7,996 votes. Smith played the Eleventh Doctor from 2010 to 2013. At just 26, he was also the youngest actor to ever play the role. Like Tennant, Smith gained recognition for his role, and when it was time for him to leave after three series, he was presented with a Sonic Screwdriver prop from the cast and crew. 

Christopher Eccleston claims third place with a total of 6,420 votes. Eccleston played the Ninth Doctor, reviving the show in 2005 for a single series alongside companion Rose Tyler, played by Billie Piper. Eccleston brought the series back to life after its hiatus and only had a contract for one year as the Doctor as showrunners didn’t know whether the revival would succeed. Thankfully, the show proved very popular, and the rest is history. 

In fourth place is Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor, with 6,320 votes. During his time as the Doctor, the original series received some of its highest average viewership figures at 9.04 million – this jumped to 10.69 million for the fourteenth season in 1976. His trademark colourful scarf and love of jelly babies have made his take on the Doctor a classic one that even younger audiences can appreciate. 

Ranking fifth most loved is Peter Capaldi, with 5,819 votes. Another Scottish actor embodying the role, Capaldi previously appeared on the show in 2008 in the episode ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ during Tennant’s tenure as the Tenth Doctor before being announced as the new actor in 2013.


Doctor Who’s best-loved Doctors, ranked 


Following Capaldi, the Third Doctor actor Jon Pertwee places sixth, amassing 3,939 votes. Pertwee played the role between January 1970 and June 1974, and his tenure was the first to be broadcast in colour.  

In seventh place is the Fifth Doctor actor Peter Davison, who gained 3,601 votes. Following him is the First Doctor actor William Hartnell, who debuted the show in 1963 and currently has 3,597 votes on the site.  

The Second Doctor actor Patrick Troughton places ninth most loved after gaining 3,544 votes in the poll. Troughton began his tenure as the Doctor in 1966 for four years until 1969.  

In tenth spot is Sylvester McCoy, who played the Seventh Doctor from 1987 to 1989. He currently has 3,373 votes.  

Jodie Whittaker, the most recent Doctor and the only woman to ever play the role, ranked eleventh place with 3,309 votes, behind Colin Baker with 3,287 votes.  

Lastly, Paul McGann ranks thirteenth with 3,210 votes. McGann played the Eighth Doctor in a 1996 film version that was intended to bring the Doctor Who series to America but ultimately failed. Despite this, his Doctor has enjoyed a long run of Big Finish audio episodes which have proved quite popular. 

Commenting on the findings, CEO of QR Code Generator Marc Porcar said:  

Doctor Who has amassed many fans worldwide thanks to its ability to continually reinvent the roles of the Doctor and their companions.”  

“Whilst the show has struggled in recent years to gain the viewership it has previously had, the 2023 Christmas special proved hopeful after exceeding 1.79 million streams and a 4.73 million overnight rating. It will be interesting to see whether the newest season can retain these figures, with some suggesting it is possible – especially considering the return of writer Russell T. Davies. Davies held the role of showrunner and writer during the tenures of Eccleston and Tennant, both of whom are well loved, placing highly in the rankings.

“One of the key factors behind the show’s appeal is its ability to reinvent itself constantly, and fans are eager to see a dramatic shift from Whittaker’s role. The announcement of Ncuti Gatwa taking on the role of the Fifteenth Doctor has created a considerable amount of buzz, and after the Christmas special last year, fans are eager to see more of Gatwa’s fresh take on the Doctor.” 


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Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at:
3 Comments on this post.
  • Dominic Walsh
    21 May 2024 at 3:34 pm -

    Ncuti is awesome. Paul McGann was my first Doctor so he will always be special to me.

  • dalek01012
    21 May 2024 at 3:59 pm -

    I was quite surprised that McGann was not higher up the list to be honest as he’d been higher placed on my list and Jodie would have been bottom under Colin Baker. As she had the same issues in her run than Colin had in his. Poor writing.

  • Dominic Walsh
    21 May 2024 at 4:21 pm -

    In fairness Jodie is amazing at interacting with the fans. If Neil Gaiman or Jane Espenson had been writing for her Doctor Jodie probably wouldn’t have faced the issues in her tenure that she did as you say.

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