British-Egyptian actor Fady Elsayed is being hotly tipped in the UK media as the next Doctor Who in the BBC's long-running sci-fi series. A relative unknown, the actor could be stepping into the Tardis as the 14th Doctor, following Jodie Whittaker’s departure from the role later this year, after five years travelling through time.
But who is Fady Elsayed?
Elsayed was born at St Mary's Hospital, in Paddington, London, in September 1993 to Egyptian parents. At school, he emerged as a promising footballer – the Arsenal fan would eventually go on to reach semi-professional level – but the acting bug eventually won out in the battle between young Elsayed’s great passions.
He told Mojeh Men in a 2016 interview that he began appearing in school plays such as Grease and Guys and Dolls as a teenager but didn’t really see a way he could pursue acting as a career. At the age of 16, however, he joined The Young Actors Theatre in Islington, and things began to change. He began to land some extra work, including a small role in that traditional breeding ground for British acting talent, the long-running hospital drama Casualty.
In 2012, he landed his first lead role in Sally El Hosaini’s critically acclaimed My Brother the Devil. The film cast Elsayed alongside acclaimed French drama La Haine’s Said Taghmaoui and picked up awards at major festivals including Sundance, Berlin and London. Elsayed was hooked.
“That is when I fell in love with acting and knew I wanted to continue acting for the rest of my life,” he told Mojeh.
Elsayed's big break
Work began coming thick and fast. Elsayed soon took on a recurring role in popular British crime drama Silent Witness and enjoyed a stint as an Arabic-speaking vampire in the Showtime horror anthology Penny Dreadful. An intriguing-sounding turn as “Palestinian boy” in the Marc Forster-directed, Brad Pitt zombie thriller World War Z was sadly consigned to the cutting room floor.
Elsayed’s next two big beaks came in 2016. On the big screen, he landed the role of Wino in the third part of Noel Clarke’s acclaimed Kidulthood trilogy, Brotherhood. On the small screen, meanwhile, and perhaps significantly for the latest rumours, the rising star was cast as football-loving student Ram Singh in BBC 3’s Doctor Who spin-off Class.
The show was created by A Monster Calls author Patrick Ness, who also produced alongside Doctor Who showrunner and lead writer Steven Moffat, and producer Brian Minchin. Class was a hit with critics and Doctor Who fans, but didn’t really break through to a wider audience. The BBC cancelled it after one season, although it, and Elsayed, have since returned for two series of audio plays.
The actor clearly hasn’t been unduly perturbed by Class’s early on-screen demise. Since the show was dropped, he has appeared alongside Rosamund Pike, Tom Hollander and Stanley Tucci in the biographical drama A Private War. He also took recurring roles in Channel 4’s globally successful Iraqi thriller Baghdad Central and Sky Atlantic’s Little Birds, while last year it was announced that he will star in the coming second season of Gangs of London.
Elsayed was also recently cast in the coming DC tentpole Black Adam. Unfortunately, Covid-19 restrictions meant the actor was unable to travel to Atlanta to shoot his scenes and his role was recast.
A different Doctor Who
The latest Doctor Who rumours should go some way to easing the pain of missing out on his big DC break.
“Fady would be a very different Doctor – but that’s precisely what the creators want. He would also be one of the most attractive," The Sun quoted a show insider on Tuesday as saying. An official announcement of who will play the 14th Doctor is expected from the show's chief, Russell T Davies, imminently, with filming due to start in April.
Elsayed, a self-confessed Doctor Who fan, shouldn’t take anything for granted just yet, though. The Daily Mirror is adamant that another woman will take on the role – Whittaker was the first female Doctor in the show’s 59-year history. The newspaper claims that production notes for the next series of the BBC's sci-fi suggest a woman will be starring again, and tips It's A Sin's Lydia West to take over.
Whittaker herself has also called for West to take over the role. “If we had the power to choose I'm going to pick an actress who I think is really exciting and I think would be phenomenal, an actress called Lydia West. If I had the power," she told BBC Radio 1.
Of course, Whittaker doesn’t have that power, so it looks like Elsayed and the rest of us will just have to wait and see what Davies has to say.