47 Days of Doctor Who–Day #34: Favorite Recognizable Guest Star

Welcome to Day 34 of my 47-day series about the revival version of Doctor Who (2005-present). I’ve come up with 47 topics / questions to answer, all of them basically positive and upbeat about the program. Each day (or as often as I can actually write these–so far so good!) I’ll pick one of them at random (using this convenient random number generator) and then write up an answer.

Why 47? It’s my favorite number.
Why Doctor Who? It’s my favorite show.
Why the modern day Doctor Who only? Simply because I remember it better.
Why only positive stuff? Because really, I write enough snark.

So, today, we spin the Random Number Generator, and it lands on 30, which means
today’s topic is

“Favorite Recognizable Guest Star”

So by this, I’m talking about guest stars in the program who are independently famous, or at least were recognizable to me from something other than Doctor Who when I saw them in the show the first time.  A lot of people who should be contenders for this don’t count though, simply because I was too oblivious to recognize them (like Diana Rigg or Hugh Bonneville) or I didn’t get to know them until later (like Simon Pegg or Andrew Garfield).  In fact, as I ran through the series in my mind I only came up with 5 or 6 possibilities.

A runner-up for this category is Christopher Ryan, who played the Sontaran General Staal in The Sontaran Strategem.  He was great in the part, just like he was good back in the original series as the creepy alien Kiv in the original series.  But I honestly can’t remember how much I actually “recognized” when I first saw the two-parter.  So my choice is someone else…

Colin Salmon as Dr. Moon, Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead

Since Doctor Who, Colin Salmon has become known within geekdom for his part as Walter Steele in a bunch of episodes of Arrow, and maybe for being in the TV version of Limitless.  But I remember him as the co-star of Season Two of Prime Suspect, the gripping mystery drama starring Helen Mirren.  IMDb informs that this was actually Salmon’s first credited role in TV or movies, and even though it was a good 16 years before he showed up in Doctor Who, the guy stuck out to me instantly, with his distinctive look and voice.  I guess it helped that he showed up in a bunch of the Pierce Brosnan James Bond films in the meantime.

Anyway, the guy was one of the many great parts of Silence of the Library.  He played Dr. Moon, a character you assume at first is a super-creepy villain, but turns out to be computer program doing his best to help a little girl save thousands of people.  It’s actually a pretty minor part that could have been easily forgettable, but became striking and memorable simply by the strength of Salmon’s presence and craft as an actor.

Another runner-up to this category was Timothy Dalton as Rassilon in the End of Time two parter.  He was certainly recognizable, and one of the better parts of that story, but ultimately not as cool.

Click here for a master list for this series.


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