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Hugh Grant is in secret talks to play Doctor Who in a mega-money move to rebuild ratings.
The Four Weddings And A Funeral star is being wooed by screenwriter Russell T Davies, who
is returning to the flagging BBC show.
A TV insider said: "Russell wants him to bring a fresh feel to the role. He’s a great award-winning actor, a Hollywood A-lister and excellent at comedy. Conversations are already in progress."
Hugh turned down an offer from Davies to star as the ninth Doctor in 2005. But in 2007, Hugh said he regretted it. He admitted: "It’s only when you see it on screen you think, ‘Damn, that was good, why did I say no?'"
Davies will return in time to celebrate the show’s 60th anniversary next year.
Sources claim he hopes to build a "multiverse" around him, spreading the show’s
attraction through spin-offs. His vision is said to be backed by BBC chiefs and Sony Pictures TV bosses, who bought a majority stake in the independent production company Wolf Studios, which makes the show.
The insider added: "The vision is it can become a Marvel-like product, building franchises around the Doctor and other key characters."
Davies, who was responsible for Doctor Who’s revival, left in 2009 and was succeeded by Steven Moffat then Chris Chibnall – but ratings dived.
Jodie Whittaker’s last shows as the 13th Time Lord will air this year.
The 60th anniversary is seen as the "first step" to getting the show back in the public eye.
David Tennant is thought to be returning for two episodes, after reuniting with Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi for a special.
The insider said: "The new Doctor will then be unveiled in 2024." Stars including Danny Dyer and Michael Sheen have been touted recently as replacement Time Lords, but the BBC has declined to comment.
Talking to The Guardian about her departure last year, Jodie said: "Once they’ve decided on the next Doctor and announced that, then it will become really real.
"The way they shot the last day was brilliant, because they shot it in order, and we never do that.
"I knew my last shot was my last shot when I filmed it, which was necessary for my head to make sense of it, she explained.
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- Doctor Who
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