There was a sense of déjà vu surrounding the news that Matt Lucas’s Nardole was returning to Doctor Who in a recurring role. He’s a light entertainment star/comedy actor who first appeared in a Doctor Who Christmas special and has now come back for more. Echoes of Catherine Tate/Donna, anyone?
Much as when Tate was announced, the reaction from some fans was pretty hostile. Given that we all came to love Donna, it seemed a tad harsh, especially as tonight sees Nardole’s best episode yet – he’s quite cheeky at times (Doctor Who S10E06 “Extremis” Spoiler-Free Preview here, with our full review here).
And she’s not the only instance of a predominantly light entertainment star making an unexpectedly strong impact on the show. Forget the cringeworthy comedian guest stars (Hale & Pace, Rufus Hound, Ken Dodd), here are 10 who turned in genuinely impressive performances…
1 Frank Skinner
Perkins in “Mummy on the Orient Express” (2014)
Better known for: Room 101, Fantasy Football
The football-crazy, laconic Brummie played a mysterious engineer on the spacefaring version of the famous Orient Express. And wonderfully droll he was too, holding his own against the surly Twelfth Doctor. There was even a hint that he might be more than a mere engineer… perhaps a Time Lord himself? By the end of the episode the Doctor was inviting him aboard the TARDIS but sadly he declined.