When Peter Capaldi was announced as the Twelfth Doctor and the new star of Doctor Who this weekend, there were a handful of fans upset that the BBC hadn't cast a person of color, once again making the Doctor a white man.
That small-but-vocal group of fans, along with a similar group who feel the Doctor could or should regenerate as a woman, had begun to get a little traction in the media in the time since it was announced that Matt Smith will be stepping down as the Eleventh Doctor at the end of the year, but most fans--even those who wanted it--didn't think there was any serious chance of such a major change just now.
According to best-selling comics writer Neil Gaiman, though, it could have happened--he's just not totally clear as to whether it was Capaldi's role, Matt Smith's or someone else's that was once offered to a black actor.
Asked on his Tumblr whether he thought a non-white actor would ever get the role, Gaiman (who has done some writing for the series) replied:
Of course. (I thought I’d said that I was disappointed that it didn’t happen this time, and that there are some amazing actors out there. I was rather disappointed that Paterson Joseph didn’t get it last time, although I’ve loved Matt’s Eleven.) And yes, I have no doubt there will be. (I know one black actor who was already offered the part of the Doctor, and who turned it down.) Just as there will be a female Doctor.
A number of black actors were rumored to be under consideration for the role of the Twelfth Doctor, although once Capaldi was announced, the word has come down that nobody else was seriously considered for the role this time around. Could this mean that Gaiman is referring to something that's stayed under wraps for years--at least since Matt Smith's time began?