Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Merlin And Doctor Who Connections You May Not Have Noticed Before

"Doctor Who" and "Merlin," two of the most popular genre series of the last 15 years to come out of Britain, offer adventure for fans of both serious science fiction and high-concept fantasy. 

The long-running BBC icon "Doctor Who" was revived in 2005 and has been running continuously ever since, cycling through five different lead actors thanks to the main character's unique "regeneration" ability. From Christopher Eccleston to Jodie Whittaker, the new "Doctor Who" brought the franchise back to prominence and made it a desirable place for distinguished English actors to showcase their talents. 

"Merlin," which launched in 2008, ran for five seasons and proved itself more than a simple adventure, expanding and adapting the Arthurian legend for TV. It likewise featured some serious talent in front of the camera.

Since the shows ran side by side for years, a number of actors appeared on both. We've found the parts where the two shows have crossed and put together this list of actors who you might not have known connect the two franchises.

Tom Ellis

You may know him best as the devil himself on "Lucifer," but before he was breaking hearts in hell, actor Tom Ellis appeared in both "Doctor Who" and "Merlin." 

In 2007, he appeared in "Doctor Who" when David Tennant was the series' star. Ellis played NHS doctor Thomas Milligan in the episode "The Last of the Time Lords." Milligan is the boyfriend of The Doctor's then-companion, Martha Jones (played by Freema Agyeman), but is killed in the episode by The Master. Thankfully, The Doctor resets all of time, erasing an entire year, and Milligan returns alive and well. Martha ends their relationship sometime down the road. 

Over on "Merlin," Ellis joined the cast as King Cenred, monarch of the kingdom that borders Camelot. Unlike in "Doctor Who," Ellis' role in "Merlin" recurs, and he plays a role in a number of episodes during the show's third season. Though Cenred brokers peace with the land of Camelot, he breaks the truce more than once and even leads an entire army into a major (but failed) assault on the kingdom. Though "Merlin" has ended its run, "Doctor Who" continues, and Ellis — whose dream has always been to play The Doctor — could always return.

Donald Sumpter

British character actor Donald Sumpter played more than one part on "Doctor Who." On The Doctor's homeworld of Gallifrey, he played the latest incarnation of Rassilon, the President of the Time Lords. The character had appeared twice before on the long-running series, most recently in 2009, when he was played by Timothy Dalton. Six years later, Sumpter assumes the part in "Hell Bent," when the 12th Doctor returns to his homeworld and overthrows him. 

This wasn't Sumpter's first time in the TARDIS. His first role on "Doctor Who" was all the way back in 1974, when he appeared as Royal Navy commander Ridgeway, a submarine captain who leads the search for a group of aquatic Silurians in the serial "The Sea Devils."

Sumpter also joined "Merlin" when he took the role of The Fisher King in the episode "Eye of the Phoenix." Ruler of The Perilous Lands, he's a sorcerer who longs for death but is unable to die. Merlin encounters The Fisher King when he and Arthur come to his castle to find the Golden Trident. The Fisher King gives them several prophecies and a vial of water from the Lake of Avalon, an important gift to aid them in their quest. In the end, Merlin thanks The Fisher King by using the Phoenix Eye to give him what he's always wanted: everlasting rest in death.

Eve Myles

Actress Eve Myles debuted in the "Doctor Who" franchise in its first season back on the air after a decades-long hiatus in 2005. Alongside Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston, Myles appeared in the episode "The Unquiet Dead" as Gwyneth, a young clairvoyant servant. In the episode, the Doctor and Rose Tyler join forces with none other than Charles Dickens in Victorian England after a series of unexplained incidents involving reanimated corpses terrorizing the city. Myles did not return to the role, but she must have impressed the BBC, because soon after she was cast as Gwen Cooper, a key character on the "Doctor Who" spin-off series "Torchwood."

Years later, Myles had a slightly larger role in the pilot of "Merlin." In fact, she played more than one character in the same episode: the aging sorceress Mary Collins and her younger enemy, Lady Helen. Collins takes her revenge for the death of her son by murdering beloved singer Lady Helen and then using a magic spell to impersonate her. Disguised as Lady Helen, Collins is able to get into Camelot and act on her plan to kill the young Arthur. Ultimately, Merlin kills Collins by using his magic to crush her with a chandelier.

Mark Williams

Actor Mark Williams may have been part of both "Doctor Who" and "Merlin," but his two characters could not be more different. Appearing first in an episode of "Merlin," Williams voiced the title character in the Season 3 episode "Goblin's Gold." A nasty and mischievous character, the goblin possesses the body of Gaius–Camelot's resident doctor–and proceeds to use the physician's status in the kingdom to hoard gold. He invents fictitious maladies and sells fake cures, but it's not long before he's found out by Merlin and Gwen, who force the goblin out of Gaius' body.

"Doctor Who" fans will recognize him as the father of 11th Doctor companion Rory Williams from the episode "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship." An absent-minded, somewhat dull-witted everyman, he joins the adventure when he's unwittingly picked up by the TARDIS when The Doctor comes looking for Rory. In the episode, he and Rory, Amy, The Doctor, Queen Nefertiti, and big game hunter John Riddell discover the secret of a starship on a collision course with Earth. He reappears in the episode "The Power of Three," in which a series of mysterious cubes appear all over Earth.

Angel Coulby

"Merlin" series regular Angel Coulby played the legendary female heroine Guinevere, servant of Morgana and future Queen of Camelot. When the series begins, Merlin doesn't think she's a suitable partner for young Arthur, but she eventually proves herself more than a worthy companion to the once and future king. Guinevere is shown as a hero in her own right and every bit Arthur's equal, the duo working together to save the kingdom and fend off its many rivals. Coulby starred in the series through its entire five-season run, appearing in all 65 episodes. 

Before she donned the crown on "Merlin," Coulby appeared in a 2006 episode of "Doctor Who" alongside 10th Doctor David Tennant. In the episode "The Girl in the Fireplace," the Doctor meets Madame de Pompadour, whom a race of clockwork robots are visiting in the past. Using time windows aboard their ship, they appear at different points in her life, thinking that her brain holds the key to fixing their ship. Coulby plays a small role in pre-revolution France as a friend of Madame de Pompadour. They share a conversation about her romantic prospects.

Warwick Davis

Best known for his many roles in the "Star Wars" saga and a couple of memorable parts in "Harry Potter," actor Warwick Davis got his start in medieval fantasy with "Willow." He returned to the genre in "Merlin" episode "Eye of the Phoenix," playing Gettir, a dwarf who guards the bridge that Arthur and Merlin need to cross to get to the lands ruled by The Fisher King. Gettir has knowledge of Arthur's quest and even of the Eye of the Phoenix itself, imparting some of his wisdom to the young adventurer. Though we only glimpse a portion of his powers in his encounter with Gwain, Gettir is also a powerful sorcerer.

Three years after his appearance in "Merlin," Davis joined "Doctor Who" in the 2013 episode "Nightmare in Silver" in the series' seventh season. In the episode, which was written by acclaimed comic book author Neil Gaiman, Davis is a chess-playing dwarf named Porridge, a mysterious figure who winds up being much more than he appears. The Doctor arrives for a vacation in an interstellar theme park only to find it deserted except for Porridge, who is later revealed to be Ludens Nimrod Kendrick Cord Longstaff XLI, a powerful emperor.

Sarah Parish

Actress Sarah Parish appeared under heavy makeup and prosthetics in parts she played in both "Doctor Who" and "Merlin." In the 2006 Christmas special of "Doctor Who," the star played the episode's main villain, The Empress of the Racnoss, who resembles a vampire crossed with a spider and possibly an overcooked lobster. Though she delivered the performance with aplomb, she wasn't exactly thrilled with the prosthetics, telling the Express UK that she'd hesitate to return to the role: "I don't know whether I'd be a spider again because that was pretty uncomfortable." 

Still, the experience didn't seem to stop her from taking on another royal role that required some major makeup. Three years after that, Parish donned a different disguise to play Lady Catrina in "Beauty and the Beast," a two-part episode in the second season of "Merlin." For parts of the episode, she appears as a human noblewoman in a flowing royal gown, but she's later revealed to be a troll using the real Catrina's face to enter Camelot, cast a spell over Uther Pendragon, and become Queen, albeit only briefly. 

Adetomiwa Edun

Star Adetomiwa Edun appeared first in "Merlin" before his one-off role in "Doctor Who." In the medieval adventure series, he played Sir Elyan, Guinevere's brother and one of Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. Elyan is a noble warrior who sacrifices himself to save Arthur from Morgana by falling on an enchanted blade meant for the future legendary king. A recurring character throughout the series beginning in the third season, Elyan appeared in a total of 21 episodes. Edun's part in "Merlin" was his first major role, too, and it catapulted him to more and bigger work, including parts in "Bates Motel," "Young Wallander," and, of course, "Doctor Who."  

He made an appearance in the 2016 Christmas special "The Return of Doctor Mysterio." In that episode, Edun played Mr. Brock, the head of a mysterious multinational corporation that's really just a front for a race of alien brains known as the Shoal of the Winter Harmony. Eventually, Brock himself becomes too suspicious for their liking and is killed, with his body overtaken by one of the aliens.

Michelle Ryan

In 2009, actress Michelle Ryan played a role in the "Doctor Who" Easter special "Planet of the Dead" as a one-time companion to David Tennant's 10th Doctor. She appears as Christina, one of a group of passengers aboard a London bus that's transported to an alien planet along with The Doctor (and fellow guest star Daniel Kaluuya). As it turns out, though, Christina is no ordinary Londoner: she's a British aristocrat turned notorious criminal on the run from DI McMillan, who's on her tail when the bus mysteriously disappears.

But two years earlier, she'd played a major role in the first season of "Merlin" as the scorching-hot sorceress Nimueh, more commonly known in Arthurian legend as the Lady of the Lake. Of course, in the BBC dramatization, Ryan's character departs wildly from legend, and serves as the primary villain for the show's first season. The vile witch feels wronged by King Uther, against whom she plans to take revenge. Eventually, Merlin kills Nimueh in the season finale.

John Hurt

Legendary actor John Hurt needs no introduction. In 2013, he joined "Doctor Who" as a forgotten incarnation of The Doctor himself called the War Doctor, revealed in the lead-up to the 50th anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor." In that episode, he crosses paths with the 10th and 11th Doctors, and, with their help, succeeds in averting the annihilation of his entire race by sealing them off in a pocket universe.

A few years before becoming a part of "Doctor Who," Hurt became a part of the Arthurian legend in "Merlin" when he provided the unmistakable voice of the Great Dragon. The last of his kind, his name is later revealed to be Kilgharrah. He's been imprisoned in a cave by Uther Pendragon, who slaughtered the rest of his race after outlawing magic and sorcery. Kilgarrah speaks to Merlin and helps guide him in the ways of magic early on in the series before being freed from his captivity beneath Camelot.

Colin Morgan

The 2008 BBC series "Merlin" starred Colin Morgan as a young version of the title character, an inexperienced wizard in a kingdom where magic has been outlawed. Because of King Uther's laws against sorcery, Merlin is forced to keep his magic a secret, with only court doctor Gaius and Lancelot aware of his powers. Morgan plays a dual role of sorts, as Merlin keeps a magical alter ego in reserve, transforming himself on occasion into "Dragoon the Great" — a wise old sorcerer who has been declared an outlaw of the kingdom, sought by Uther and his son. Over the course of the show's five seasons, Merlin becomes increasingly powerful and experienced in magic, slowly becoming the great wizard of Arthurian legend.

Before he played the title character in "Merlin," Morgan had already appeared in the "Doctor Who" franchise. In the 2008 episode "Midnight," The Doctor (Tennant) and Donna (Catherine Tate) visit the resort world called Midnight, where they encounter a boy named Jethro Cane (Morgan), a rebellious, angry teen who seems to take pleasure when the tour group's shuttle breaks down and strands them in a perilous situation.

Georgia Tennant

More than just a guest star on "Doctor Who," actress Georgia Tennant (née Moffett) is the daughter of Peter Davison, the actor who played the Fifth Doctor in the early 1980s. In a nod to her real-life parentage, she appeared in the 2008 episode "The Doctor's Daughter" as—you guessed it—the daughter of 10th Doctor David Tennant. (Technically, she's not the Doctor's biological daughter, but rather offspring created via DNA sampling by a progenation machine). It gets weirder: Georgia and Tennant went on to marry in real life. She is thus both the Doctor's daughter and the Doctor's wife. 

A year after playing Jenny, Georgia appeared in an episode of the second season of "Merlin" titled "Sweet Dreams." The actress played another daughter, this time a pampered young princess named Vivian who comes to Camelot with her father, King Olaf, while he's negotiating a peace treaty. While under a spell, Arthur falls in love with Vivian, which is all part of a plan by King Alined to sabotage the peace talks.

Anthony Head

Many may recognize Anthony Head as Rupert Giles from the long-running supernatural teen drama "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." In 2008, he joined the main cast of the BBC fantasy drama "Merlin" as Uther Pendragon, King of Camelot and father of Arthur. Responsible for killing the dragons and outlawing magic in the kingdom, he's the reason Merlin must hide his sorcery. A ruthless king and stern father, he's far from the noble, iconoclastic leader his son Arthur will one day become. Eventually, his own daughter Morgana will betray him, leaving him distraught before she ultimately sees to his end. His death in the fourth season is not his final appearance, as his spirit carries on, influencing events in the fifth and final season.

Over on "Doctor Who," Anthony Head played a villain in the second season of the revived series in 2006. In the episode "School Reunion"–best known now for the return of 1970s companion Sarah Jane Smith, which led to her own spin-off–he guest-starred as Mr. Finch, headmaster of Deffry Vale High School, which is being overrun by unusual bat-like creatures. Finch is later revealed to be a Krillitane named Brother Lassar, who had taken over the school as part of a plan to grow his people's powers to limitless heights. In an effort to thwart the Doctor, Lassar offers to bring back the Time Lords if he succeeds in becoming a god.

Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson starred for all five seasons of "Merlin" as the Camelot's physician Gaius. He's skilled in the ways of magic, a rarity in the court. He served King Uther Pendragon with such fealty that when he began the Great Purge–banning magic and killing dragons and wizards alike–Gaius gave up sorcery altogether. As the young wizard Merlin grows older, Gaius helps mentor the boy and is one of the select few aware of his magical abilities. He even uses his own powers illegally on occasion to help him. Ever loyal to Camelot, he stays with the kingdom through the reign of Queen Guinevere, even after his student Merlin has left its borders.

On "Doctor Who," Richard Wilson appeared in the first season of the revived series in one of the most celebrated episodes of the Ninth Doctor's tenure. In "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" (a story often collectively referred to simply as "The Empty Child"), Wilson appeared once again as a resident doctor. This time, he plays Dr. Constantine, a physician working at Albion Hospital. A boy with a mysterious injury is brought to recover there, but winds up turning the other children and Dr. Constantine into a horde of zombie-like creatures with gas masks for faces. Perhaps the most chilling episode in recent "Doctor Who" history, "The Empty Child" made Wilson a "Doctor Who" legend.

Liam Cunningham

Perhaps most recognizable to audiences as Davos Seaworth on the HBO fantasy series "Game of Thrones," Liam Cunningham is also part of both "Merlin" and "Doctor Who." 

On "Merlin," Cunningham played the role of the druid Ruadan in the two-part episode "Arthur's Bane." A powerful sorcerer and ruthless warrior, Ruadan and his daughter Sefa ally themselves with King Uther's embittered daughter Morgana in her attempt to get revenge on her father. He ultimately sacrifices his own life to save Sefa, whom Uther sentences to death after she's caught infiltrating Camelot.

In the 2013 episode of "Doctor Who," Cunningham starred as Captain Zhukov, commander of a Russian submarine operating at the height of the Cold War between Russia and the United States. The story, appropriately titled "Cold War," sees Zhukov's sub unearth an ancient Ice Warrior who crash-landed on Earth centuries ago and sat frozen in ice ever since. Discovered by a Soviet scientist (David Warner), the Ice Warrior is brought aboard and gets loose, proceeding to terrorize the ship before attempting to use the sub's nuclear warheads to wipe out humanity. Thankfully, the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) are there to help thwart its deadly plans. 

Tom Hopper

Actor Tom Hopper had a recurring role on "Merlin" as the knight Percival. Debuting in the final episode of Season 3, he plays a major part in the series' final two seasons. When we meet him, he's accompanying Lancelot (Santiago Cabrera) while answering Merlin's call for aid after Morgana's coup of Camelot. A mighty warrior, Percival aids Arthur in his quest. Percival earns Arthur's respect and becomes a Knight of the Round Table, an unusual honor considering that he's not high-born. Through the remainder of the series, he fights alongside Arthur, proving himself a kind and generous knight. He remains in Camelot after Arthur's fall.

In "Doctor Who," Hopper played a small but important role in the debut of the 11th Doctor in the Season 5 premiere, "The Eleventh Hour." In the episode, he plays Jeff Angelo, a friend of new companion Amy Pond. The Doctor barges in on him at home and grabs his laptop, which is needed to save the world from the visiting Atraxi. After the Doctor makes a snide remark about what Jeff was doing on his computer, the Doctor uses it to send a signal across the globe that helps locate the villainous Prisoner Zero.