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Neil Patrick Harris joins Doctor Who in (another) mystery role

Returning showrunner Russell T. Davies alarmingly says Harris will play "the greatest enemy the Doctor has ever faced"

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Neil Patrick Harris joins Doctor Who in mystery role
Neil Patrick Harris
Photo: Bruce Glikas (Getty Images)

In today’s “news that will make you go, ‘Huh?’”, Neil Patrick Harris has been cast in the landmark 60th anniversary season of Doctor Who. The actor will reunite with returning showrunner Russell T. Davies, with whom he previously worked on It’s A Sin.

In a statement that has become typical of these buzzy Who casting announcements, Davies said, ​​“It’s my huge honor to open our studio doors for the mighty Neil Patrick Harris…but who, why, what is he playing? You’ll just have to wait. But I promise you, the stuff we’re shooting now is off the scale. Doctor beware!”


“My current gig. Never looked more dashing,” Harris himself wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of his yet-unnamed character. “Thank you for inviting me into your Whoniverse, @russelltdavies63 . I’ll try my hardest to do my worst. This Doctor has no idea what’s in store. And even if he does… Who cares? Ha ha ha HA ha-ha-ha!”

Davies also shared the photo to Instagram, adding this foreboding tease: “Neil Patrick Harris, welcome to Cardiff! Playing the greatest enemy the Doctor has ever faced. Such a great actor, such a great man, it’s an honour and a hoot. Have fun.”


Greatest enemy EVER? On a list that includes Daleks and Cybermen? And surely the role of the Doctor’s nemesis, The Master (most recently inhabited by Sacha Dhawan) wouldn’t be going to Neil Patrick Harris, of all people?

Previous Masters have been great aesthetic foils to their Doctors (think Peter Capaldi and Michelle Gomez). That doesn’t seem like it would be the case with the new Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Harris, based on the character picture. He looks a bit like an old-timey engineer with sort of a Benjamin Franklin vibe going on. Frankly, it’s giving one of Count Olaf’s many disguises on A Series Of Unfortunate Events.

Harris is probably the biggest American actor to ever appear on the iconic British sci-fi series. Previous Yankee TV stars to encounter the Doctor include Shameless’ Justin Gatwin and most recently (and rather unfortunately), Sex And The City’s Chris Noth.


There’s been a lot of news from the Who-niverse of late, but much of it is still shrouded in mystery. Gatwa is set to take over the role of the Doctor, but of course, we don’t yet know the circumstances of Thirteen’s (Jode Whittaker) regeneration. Ten (David Tennant) and his companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) are also slated to return, though we don’t know how they fit in, particularly given how their stories ended. Heartstopper’s Yasmin Finney was also cast as a character named “Rose,” but Davies was coy as to what connection, if any, this Rose has to the iconic Rose Tyler (Billie Piper).

For Who fans, those questions may feel a bit more pressing than whatever’s going on with Neil Patrick Harris, but it’s increasingly clear that Russell T. Davies is pulling out all the stops for his triumphant return to the Tardis.