I put all the Doctor Who actors into the correct order for you

So I’ve contributed for the first time to the Guardian’s “ – Ranked!” series with a subject dear to my heart. “Every Doctor Who episode – ranked!” was a step too far, as was “Every Doctor Who companion – ranked!”, but I have produced a top twenty of the people to have played the Doctor.

You can read it here: The greatest Doctor Who – ranked!

It was incredibly fun to do, and also fraught because, as you know, whenever you write one of these lists – which the Guardian does bill as “an entirely subjective countdown of a pop-cultural subject” – you know you have poked the hornet’s nest of fandom. And yes, there was a spreadsheet involved.

If you’ve ever read my the six sentences I hate writing about Doctor Who blog post from 2020 you will know that one of the pitfalls of this kind of exercise is that there are always twisty things that fans really care about but which have to be a simplification for a mainstream audience.

One example straight away from today’s list is we say it features “every two-hearted Time Lord so far” but it doesn’t include the Morbius Doctors, there is on-screen evidence that Hartnell’s Doctor only had one heart, Cushing’s Doctor was a human, and so on and so on, and someone is definitely going to point that all out to me in the comments as proof that I am an idiot. Yay!

Also classifying these things is like a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff. You just want to do all the “main” Doctors, right? OK, sure. So are we including John Hurt’s War Doctor, who fits into the main known chain of consecutive regenerations, but not including Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor, who has appeared in more episodes than he did? And if you are including Jo Martin, then you need to put David Bradley in. So wait, now you are only including two of the people who have played the First Doctor and ignoring Peter Cushing and ignoring the pineapple-eating Richard Hurndall? And so it goes on …

Anyway I’ve been lucky enough to already see the previews of Space Babies and The Devil’s Chord, episodes one and two of Ncuti Gatwa’s new series, and you are in for a wild ride when the series starts next weekend. Enjoy!