When Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor regenerates into the 13th version of the heroic Time Lord on Doctor Who, fans will likely already know who is playing the part. As of now, in terms of betting odds, Phoebe Waller-Bridge has just shot to the top of the list of rumored new faces to play the time-traveling alien. If Waller-Bridge is cast as the Doctor, she will be the first woman to play the part.
On Tuesday morning, Inverse spoke with Matthew Shaddick at the betting site Ladbrokes who said that there had been “a big market move since yesterday,” meaning more money was being put on a new actor to take the Doctor Who role. “Phoebe Waller-Bridge was at 8/1 and is now at Evens: 1/1.” This makes Phoebe Waller-Bridge the runaway favorite at present.
Ladbrokes is the self-described “world-leader in online betting and gambling,” and in the time of Doctors past, the betting odds on various actors taking over the lead role on Doctor Who has been an incidental indicator of who will really get the part.
Back on March 3, Shaddick told Inverse that the odds of actor Kris Marshall being cast were 4/5, meaning there was 55% chance of him being cast in the role. “Sometimes that sort of activity can indicate that an announcement of some sort is imminent,” which is similar to the activity Ladbrokes is now seeing with Waller-Bridge. Could a casting announcement be coming?
To be clear, these odds are determined solely by how much money is being wagered on a particular actor. When Peter Capaldi was officially confirmed for the role on August 4, 2013, the Ladbrokes odds of him being cast were 1/4 two weeks before that date. “Initially, [Capaldi] was 10/1,” Shaddick said. “But right before he was cast, it was about 80%.” When pressed, Shaddick admitted that Capaldi “came late on the scene” and added that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Capaldi’s successor was “someone whose name hadn’t come up yet.” After rumblings of Kris Marshall, Damien Molony and others, Phoebe Waller-Bridge could be the latecomer everyone has been looking for.
But, future Time Lords are not sports teams or horses. The list of Doctor Who hopefuls was generated internally at Ladbrokes to begin with. “We had to come up with estimates beforehand,” Shaddick said, “Using names that journalists and bloggers had mentioned.” This means that the only reason there were betting odds on Tilda Swinton is because journalists and fans have suggested it would be cool. The media attention about Tilda Swinton being in the running was just a paradoxical tail-wagging situation.
Still, Phoebe Waller-Bridge has worked with incoming Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall before. In addition to starring in the acclaimed comedy Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge also has had a reoccurring role on Broadchurch, a series which Chris Chibnall also served on as showrunner.
Historically, Waller-Bridge’s recent increase in odds doesn’t mean she will get the role. After all, she’s also playing an unknown character in the Han Solo movie, so she might be too busy. Actors have moved from Doctor Who to Star Wars before, just usually not in that direction. That being said, a totally unknown actor could still get the role. Matt Smith, for example, seemingly came out of nowhere when he was cast in 2009. “I think I’m right in saying [Matt Smith] was a complete surprise and wasn’t even listed in our betting odds before he was announced,” Shaddick said.
For fans hoping for a woman to become the next Doctor, the odds are now pretty good. Just don’t forget that these odds don’t reflect reality just yet.