For the Doctor’s next adventure, Chris Chibnall’s team have recruited a ‘Big’ guest star. (Do you see what we did there?)
The Doctor Who team have invested deeply this season is pulling together a stellar guest cast. Season premiere The Woman Who Fell to Earth even ended with a parade of future guest stars designed to elicit ‘Wow! I can’t believe they got them!‘ reactions. Left to last was perhaps the most surprising name of all – American actor Chris Noth. Noth guest stars in fourth episode Arachnids in the UK but it’s just the latest in a long line of roles.
The son of a CBS news reporter and a lawyer, Noth learned his craft at the Yale School of Drama. And he’s been in almost constant demand as an actor ever since. In a feat rare for an actor his career has spent moving from one high profile long running role to the next. He first came to the public’s attention as one of the original stars of unstoppable television juggernaut Law & Order. The show originated the format of splitting the drama between the initial investigation and the resulting prosecution. At the time it represented an innovate new twist of the procedural genre. Noth served five seasons from 1990 to 1995 as Detective Mike Logan, appearing in well over a hundred episodes of the top rated NBC show.
For almost twenty years, Noth brought Law & Order & Sex to the City of New York
Law & Order ultimately lasted twenty years in total and generated seven spin offs, and almost twelve hundred episodes between them. Including, of course, Chris Chibnall’s own Law & Order: UK starring Bradley Walsh. Law & Order is often regarded as a franchise that places ‘the formula’ above all else. But Noth’s early role as Logan played a vital part in securing its popularity and long life. As vital as, say, William Russell as Ian Chesterton in the early years of Doctor Who. In fact, Logan was so popular that he was the only Law & Order character to receive their own spin-off movie, and he later returned to spin off show Law & Order: Criminal Intent for three seasons from 2005-2008.
In between stints in the Law & Order universe, he came to global attention as the iconic ‘Mr. Big’ in international phenomenon Sex and the City. Noth’s success as the character was all the more remarkable in a show firmly focused on the female characters. Indeed, his character isn’t given a proper name until the very last episode – being one of the many male characters simply given an ironic, and faintly dehumanizing, nickname by the central fab foursome of Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda.
As the ‘bad husband’ in The Good Wife, Noth was a charismatic cad
But season by season, Noth’s Mr. Big became more of a central component to what was special about the show. And viewers obsessed over Big and Carrie’s competing ‘His-and-Hers’ commitment issues more and more each season. It’s hard not to believe that in the hands of a less charismatic actor, Big would have been cast aside on the trash heap of Carrie’s exes with in the first couple of seasons, never to be seen again.
Sex and the City came to an end (a couple of big screen movies notwithstanding) in 2008. Noth immediately leapt straight into yet another long lasting role. As Peter Florrick, the charming but corrupt politician, Noth was the adulterous ‘bad husband’ to Julianna Margulies’ The Good Wife. Much of the drama of the show’s seven seasons hinged on Margulies’ character, Alicia Florrick, dealing with the fallout from her husband’s fall and rise and fall again. Again, Noth ultimately appeared in over a hundred episodes across seven seasons. Along the way he deftly made Peter a total heel but also someone the audiences wanted to keep around.
Doctor Who episode Arachnids in the UK sees Noth swap the big cities of America for the spider infested streets of Sheffield
Noth followed the 2016’s final season of The Good Wife by joining the cast of Tyrant in its third season. Toth played General Cogswell, an American general in an uneasy alliance with a reluctant Middle Eastern President. For the first time in his career, however, his first season was also his last as Tyrant ended that year. However he quickly returned to familiar ground and a new lead role. In Gone, which premiered in the UK in March and will be on US screens next year, he plays FBI Agent Frank Novak – leader of the Bureau’s top missing person unit. This latest procedural unique selling point being Novak’s recruitment of Kick Lannigan (Leven Rambin), herself a child abduction survivor, as a special advisor to his team.
It can’t be understated how unusual it is for any TV actor to be in constant work, in high profile show after high profile show, for a continuous 28 year period – two years longer than the entire original run of Doctor Who. And Noth has accomplished it by his rare talent for combining charm, menace and humour. This makes him about as good a fit for Doctor Who as one could imagine.
But, still… Wow. I can’t believe they got him!
The Doctor Who adventure continues…
Doctor Who continues this Sunday at 6.55pm GMT on BBC One and at 8pm EST on BBC America with Arachnids in the UK by Chris Chibnall. Series 11 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), Bradley Walsh (Graham O’Brien), and Tosin Cole (Ryan Sinclair). Arachnids in the UK guest stars Chris Noth, Shobna Gulati, Tanya Fear and is directed by Sallie Aprahamian.
“Something’s happening with the spiders in this city.” The Doctor, Yaz, Graham and Ryan find their way back to Yorkshire – and Yaz’s family. Only something is stirring amidst the eight-legged arachnid population of Sheffield.