Jacob Anderson stars in Doctor Who epic Flux as recurring character Vinder. Not just Game of Thrones’ Grey Worm, where else may have seen (and even heard) Anderson before?
This week on Doctor Who the Doctor will be coming face to face with potential new ally Vinder for the first time. We briefly met Vinder in The Halloween Apocalypse as the sole crewmember of Outpost Rose. Assigned (sentenced?) to a long stint keeping watch over some interstellar phenomenon he’s among the first to realize the Flux has started. With his subplot just one of the many plot plates thrown in the air with total abandon by Chris Chibnall, we’ll have to wait and see what role he’ll ultimately play in events. But what of the actor that plays him, Jacob Anderson?
Possibly the most charming surprise about Jacob Anderson is that despite growing up in the so-called ‘wilderness years’ of 1990-2004, he was already a huge Doctor Who fan long before Russell T Davies’ vision exploded onto our screens. Thanks to a babysitter with a Doctor Who VHS collection, he was raised on a diet of old school classics. The first regeneration he ever saw wasn’t Eccleston erupting like a volcano in The Parting of the Ways. No, it was Pertwee gently roll back and mixing into Tom Baker in Planet of the Spiders. While the McCoy era and Ace made a particular impression on him.
But long before putting himself up for Doctor Who, Bristol born Anderson’s was exploring musical ambitions, and his music career still runs parallel to his acting. Moving to London at just seventeen, he was signed by Columbia Records and has released a number of singles and albums under the name ‘Raleigh Ritchie’ including 2016’s You’re a Man Now, Boy and 2020’s Andy. He’s also collaborated with the likes of Typesun, Plan B, and Stormzy. Most notably he sang vocals on Stormzy’s Don’t Cry for Me.
Anderson is now stranger to genre TV and movies, battling aliens, zombies and serial killers throughout his career. Even the odd… Underwater Menace
But his music has always co-existed with his acting career. He began appearing in significant guest star roles even as a teenager. In ITV’s answer to Doctor Who’s return, Primeval, he was Lucien, a basketball player who works with Abby (Hannah Spearritt) to escape the sealion/ape hybrid from the future that’s keeping them in its larder. And as if that doesn’t sound amazing enough, the episode’s called Underwater Menace. (Yes, really!)
Other early genre roles include the movie Demons Don’t Die, as one of a group of teenagers who make a suicide pact only to find themselves the targets of a brutal serial killer instead. While he was one of the residents of a London street facing alien invasion in short film The Swarm. (Presumably no relation to the Flux villain.)
The Almost Rory – The Doctor Who companion was one of the roles Anderson missed out on in his early days
After the standard apprenticeship of British actors, guest starring in Doctors, The Bill, Silent Witness, and Casualty, among others, more significant roles began to come Anderson’s way. These included off beat sitcom Episodes, which featured Matt Le Blanc as an exaggerated version of himself. Anderson took on the recurring role of Kevin, one of Le Blanc’s co-stars on show-within-a-show Pucks! But it’s wonderful to think of the job that got away during this period. In 2009, Anderson was among those auditioning for the role of Rory Williams in Series Five of Doctor Who! And what a different world that would have been…
Then he established his connection with future Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall as one of the murder suspects in Broadchurch, the older boyfriend of the late Danny’s sister. Coincidentally, this reunited him with future Doctor Jodie Whittaker as his girlfriend’s mother for the second time, having also portrayed a similar relationship in Royal Wedding. With his other co-stars also including the Tenth Doctor himself, David Tennant, and Arthur Darvill – the man who beat Anderson to the part of Rory – it’s no wonder Anderson now talks about having to hold in his excitement and fannishness around them.
Meanwhile, the two seasons of Channel 4’s The Mimic also featured Anderson in one of the main roles. The cringe comedy focused on a lifelong under-achiever (Terry Mynott) desperate to impress the son he never knew (Anderson).
Anderson’s Game of Thrones role as the leader of the Unsullied army remains his most famous character to date
Then came Anderson’s most high profile gig to date: international behemoth Game of Thrones. First appearing in Season Three, his character Grey Worm ultimately featured in almost half the total episodes in the dragons-and-zombies epic. An impressive feat in a show with such a high mortality rate, where not even the major characters were safe.
Leader of the Unsullied, an army of freed slaves, Grey Worm was one of the most trusted advisors of Daenerys Targaryen as she played her long game to invade the Seven Kingdoms and reclaim her father’s Iron Throne. And Anderson was in the thick of it throughout. Sometimes in action packed battle sequences and sometimes in grand throne rooms discussing affairs of state. Stoic and with a loyalty to his Queen so fierce at times he seemed about to combust, Grey Worm was a major departure from Anderson’s years as cocky and witty teenagers.
Anderson joins the Doctor Who family as the “adventurous and dynamic” Vinder in Series 13
Now that Game of Thrones is over, Anderson is leaving fantasy land to cross back to the science fiction side of the street for Doctor Who Series 13. Thanks to the notoriously tight lipped Doctor Who promotional team we know very little about his new character, Vinder. We know from Anderson’s New York Comic Con appearance that Vinder is “fun, adventurous and dynamic.” The promotional photo of Vinder also indicates that Vinder is either from the future or an alien world (or both) — or if he is from contemporary Earth he’s somehow been out in time and space for a while already. And with his blaster at his hip and his rugged gilet, he exudes that Han Solo style space piratical cool. So we can expect a very different Jacob Anderson than the one Game of Thrones fans might expect.
But the patches on his overalls and jacket also suggest a type of uniform. Could he be an agent of some body with goals which overlap with the Doctor’s? Or perhaps he’s just a member of the crew of a ship which first encounters the eponymous menace, the Flux? There’s really not very long left now until we find out…
Doctor Who: Flux continues this Sunday at 6.10pm on BBC One, and on BBC America in the US, with Chapter Two: War of the Sontarans
The Doctor has an unexpected encounter with one of her deadliest enemies when the Sontarans become a new faction in the Crimean War. As the British army goes into pitched battle with the warlike aliens, the Doctor and her companions seek the help of renowned nurse Mary Seacole (Sara Powell), while an ancient temple hides mysterious secrets.