'Doctor Who' To Feature 'Downton Abbey' Guest Star & Other Familiar Faces

Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor (Photo: BBC)

​Legendary sci-fi series Doctor Who took New York Comic Con by storm last weekend, promising guest stars galore, including several Masterpiece favorites from Downton Abbey and more.

Doctor Who is one of the longest-running series in history, having been on the air for over fifty years. Its popularity is such that, like Star Trek, it predates the surging mainstream popularity of comic conventions, which have sprung up in the last decade across the United States. Due to the nature of the show, particualrly its rotating cast of characters, it is also one of the most popular, with guest star appearances, signings, photo opportunities, and of course cosplay.

This year's New York Comic Con, one of the country's largest, coincided with Doctor Who's Season 11 premiere this past weekend. Naturally, the new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, was on hand, as were showrunner Chris Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens. The premiere episode aired during the the con in Madison Square Garden's Hulu Theater, watched by 5,000 fans, many of whom were dressed like the 13th Doctor. (It was a virtual small army of 13th Doctors. They outnumbered all the other Doctor cosplays by a 2-1 margin.)

 

But the big news out of the broadcast was that, unlike the simulcast that played over the air on BBC America, the NYCC airing included an extra next time trailer, featuring all the guest stars for the upcoming season. (The 8 p.m. airing on BBCA did include this trailer, but that wouldn't be for hours later.) The roster of faces familiar to fans of PBS and Masterpiece are just more reasons this season is a must watch.

Alan Cumming, host of PBS' Masterpiece Mystery had already let slip he was going to be a part of the new season, but the rest of the roster has been carefully kept under wraps. The biggest names to join Cumming are Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes from Downton Abbey), Vinette Robinson (Sgt. Sally Donovan from Sherlock, Black Mirror), Julie Hesmondhalgh (Broadchurch, Coronation Street), and Mark Addy (Great Expectations, Game of Thrones).

But that's not all. The rest of the list includes Chris Noth (Sex & The City), Ben Bailey Smith (Law & Order UK), Lee Mack (Have I Got News For You), Shane Zaza (Happy Valley), Shobna Gulati (River City), and Shaun Dooley (Broadchurch).

 

This wasn't the only Doctor Who panel either. Earlier that weekend, the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant (Broadchurch), the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith (The Crown) and fan favorite companion River Song, Alex Kingston (Upstairs Downstairs) had done their own panel at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Both panels gave shout-outs to PBS for being the original network to bring Doctor Who to the states. 

In Chibnall's words, "We’re really proud of it... We are standing on the shoulders of giants of television." Whittaker added: “Its so hard to convey how proud you are and be something and not share it with the most important people, the fans. Without it [the fans]....there isn't it."

Doctor Who Season 11 airs on BBC America on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET.