In the Dr Who time universe, there are supposedly only to be thirteen Doctors. We are up to No. 11 in Matt Smith. But was there a twelfth Dr Who? Well, technically yes, Peter Cushing in the two films, “Dr Who and the Daleks” (1965) and “Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150 AD” (1966). Cushing was an excellent Dr Who.
However, because it is the TV episodes that forms the canon, only the actors who appeared in the TV episodes by the BBC forming the continuity of the rejuvenating Doctors one after the other, are counted. This is not strictly true – hey, we’re dealing with Time Lords, so we get Time Warp – as Paul McGann the “eighth Doctor” was also only in a movie (one episode) in May 1996 (“Doctor Who,” 1996) which was launched to try and rejuvenate the franchise after its TV lapse in 1989.
The 1996 McGann movie was a British/ Canadian/American attempt to introduce the Doctor to American audiences. It rated well in the UK but not the States and the intended USA TV series was never made. However, because McGann’s Who was:
- a continuity of the others, just in a film concept,
- it was created as a rejuvenation of the TV franchise and intended as a US TV series,
- bridges the TV hiatus 1989 -2005 TV renewal (starring Christopher Eccleston, the Ninth Doctor),
- and is extensively covered in other media, books and comics, dvds, etc, McGann is included.
Cushing starred in two movies (1965, 66) and McGann in only one (1996) so Cushing has perhaps the better claim (he was also much better). However, McGann’s character fits inside the continuity whereas Cushing’s sits outside it; that is why Cushing is not added, and McGann is, making up the eighth of the “Eleven Doctors.”
If we want to get technical, Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean) also plays Dr Who, in “Dr Who and the Curse of Fatal Death” (four episodes I think) but again, these were a spoof for charity, and sit outside the canon.
See also: 11. The Eleven Drs Who