'Doctor Who': All the Actors Who Have Played The Master Including New Actor Sacha Dhawan

After last year's Doctor Who New Year's Day special saw The 13th Doctor (played by Jodie Whittaker) take on arch foes the Daleks, the closing moments of "Spyfall" revealed the return of another classic villain on the BBC series as The Master unveiled himself to the 'fam', as now played by new actor Sacha Dhawan of Iron Fist, who becomes the first person of color to play the evil Time Lord.

Dhawan takes on the role from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina's Michelle Gomez, whose 'Missy' version of The Master died in "The Doctor Falls" after her former incarnation (John Simm) killed her, disgusted that his future self would ever help The Doctor (Peter Capaldi). Derek Jacobi also portrayed the character in the rebooted series, while Anthony Ainley and Roger Delgado are among the actors who played The Doctor's greatest foe in the classic series.

All the actors who have played The Master in Doctor Who

Sacha Dhawan

At the end of "Spyfall," O, the former spy whom The Doctor has been working with, revealed that he is actually The Master, hiding in plain sight as a 'spymaster.'

Though Dhawan will best be known to American audiences for his role in Netflix's Iron Fist, Dhawan was among the British actors who had their breakout in The History Boys, in which he starred alongside James Corden, Dominic Cooper and Russell Tovey. He has also starred in TV series like 24: Live Another Day, Line of Duty and Mr. Selfridge.

michelle gomez the master
Michelle Gomez as The Master in "Doctor Who" BBC

Michelle Gomez

The first female Master, setting the ground that would allow The Doctor to change his gender a few seasons later, 'Missy' appeared in 15 episodes across the entire Peter Capaldi era, from his first adventure "Deep Breath" to his penultimate episode "The Doctor Falls". Among her 'achievements' were bringing together The Doctor and Clara (Jenna Coleman) and the murder of Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson, who also starred in The History Boys alongside Dhawan).

Scottish actor Michelle Gomez's biggest U.S. role to date is as the evil Mrs. Wardwell in Netflix's Sabrina reboot, though other roles include Gotham and cult British comedy series like Bad Education and Green Wing.

john simm the master
John Simm as The Master in "Doctor Who" BBC

John Simm

The result of the first ever on-screen regeneration for The Master was John Simms' Master, sometimes known as 'Mr. Saxon' after Harold Saxon, his disguise when he became the Prime Minister of The United Kingdom during David Tennant episode "The Sound of Drums." So far, he is the only Master of the modern Doctor Who era to face-off against two different incarnations of The Doctor, taking on both the Capaldi and Tennant versions of the character.

Though Simm's big American breakout was to be the now-cancelled Game of Thrones prequel, he is a fairly big star in his native U.K. thanks to critically acclaimed series like Life of Mars, The Catch and Collateral.

During this era, the young Master, who appeared in a number of flashbacks, was played by William Hughes.

derek jacobi the master
Derek Jacobi as The Master in "Doctor Who" BBC

Derek Jacobi

The "Professor Yana" incarnation of The Master, who appeared in David Tennant adventure "Utopia," was the first version of the villain seen in the modern version of the show. Old and living at the end of the universe, his identity was hidden from even himself until Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) inadvertently revealed it to Yana, turning him back into his old, evil self.

Doctor Who is one of over 150 appearances Sir Derek Jacobi has made onscreen, with appearances in everything from Gladiator to Nanny McPhee.

eric roberts the master
Eric Roberts as The Master in "Doctor Who" BBC

Eric Roberts

The only American so far to play The Master, Eric Roberts played the character in the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie, which starred Paul McGann (and, briefly, Sylvester McCoy) as The Doctor. This new version emerged after the villain was exterminated by the Daleks. His last request was to have The Doctor escort his ashes back to the Time Lords' home planet of Gallifrey, which is revealed to be part of a plot that sees The Master's energy transfer into a new body.

That body was that of the extremely prolific Roberts, whose 550+ credits as an actor include Runaway Train (which netted Roberts an Oscar nomination in 1986), The Dark Knight and Suits.

At the start of this Doctor Who TV movie, Canadian actor Gordon Tipple briefly plays a pre-execution Master.

anthony ainley the master
Anthony Ainley as The Master in "Doctor Who" BBC

Anthony Ainley

Ainley is the actor whose Master has faced off against the most Doctors, appearing alongside Tom Baker , Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy in a number of dastardly (and sometimes completely ridiculous) disguises. Prior to his work on Doctor Who, Ainley appeared in classic British dramas like Upstairs, Downstairs and films like The Land That Time Forgot and James Bond movie You Only Live Twice.

geoffrey beever the master
Geoffrey Beevers as The Master in "Doctor Who" BBC

Geoffrey Beevers

In Tom Baker episode "The Keeper of Traken," Geoffrey Beevers plays an old and disfigured Master, who assimilates the body of Tremas (Antony Ainley) (yes, that is an anagram of Master) rather than regenerate. The actor has had an over 50-year career on TV and film, including appearances in the films Miss Potter, Legend and Clash of the Titans, and voices the character in the majority of the Doctor Who Big Finish audio dramas.

peter pratt the master
Peter Pratt as The Master in "Doctor Who" BBC

Peter Pratt

The first actor to play this deformed Master, however, appeared in earlier Tom Baker adventure "The Deadly Assassin." Peter Pratt was best known for appearing onstage in Gilbert and Sullivan productions, but appeared in Doctor Who under the heavy prosthetics of this incarnation of the character.

roger delgado the master
Roger Delgado (left) as The Master alongside Jon Pertwee as The Doctor in "Doctor Who" BBC

Roger Delgado

Still The Master to appear in the most episodes (37), Roger Delgado was the first incarnation of the character, who fought Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor and introduced the renegade Time Lord and shrink-ray-user to audiences for the first time.

derek jacobi the master doctor who
The Master (voiced by Derek Jacobi) in "Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka" BBC

Other versions of The Master

Technically, the official list of actors who have played The Master onscreen also includes an actor named Norman Stanley, who played a masked version of the character in Episode 3 of Delgado's first appearance in the role, "Terror of the Autons."

The wider universe of Doctor Who (in which canonically The Master has had over 20 regenerations) has also seen a number of other actors take on the role in takes of varying canonical legitimacy. Among the Masters who have played the character for Big Finish are Alex McQueen (who also starred alongside The 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi in The Thick of It), Yee Jee Tso (who appeared in the 1996 Doctor Who movie before voicing the character) and Mark Gatiss, who played an alternate-Earth version of the character.

Derek Jacobi holds the distinction of being the only actor to play two different versions of The Master after he also voiced the character in "Scream of the Shalka," a 2003 animated episode of Doctor Who released by the BBC on its website and starring Richard E. Grant. The Two Popes actor Jonathan Pryce, meanwhile, played the character in the Comic Relief "Curse of Fatal Death" spoof, starring Rowan Atkinson (and, in brief regenerations, Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Joanna Lumley).

Doctor Who Season 12 airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on BBC America

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts