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Researchers Combine 13 Actors To Find The Average Look Of Doctor Who’s Leading Man

Hello Sweetie

We’ve seen it before with a redditor photoshopping Batman and Superman actors to see what kind of superhero that would create, but this time a team of psychologists took it upon themselves to study the many faces of the Doctor. Just in time for his next regeneration! 

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The Doctor has had many faces, and while we may be partial to one or another, psychologists at Aberdeen University’s Face Lab decided to show us his “real face.”

“Cutting-edge ‘face averaging’ technology, developed at the institution as part of research into face recognition, was employed to create the average face of Doctor Who,” they wrote in their official release. “Images of the 13 actors who have filled the time- travelling hero’s shoes – from the inaugural Doctor, William Hartnell, to Peter Capaldi who will step into the role in the highly-anticipated Christmas episode – were used to develop the image.”

How does this all work? “The software we used allows us to identify specific landmarks on each of the images of The Doctor, such as the eyes, nose and mouth – what we call the ‘shape’ component,” said Dr. Robin Kramer. “We then use these landmarks to average all of the images together, also taking into account their colour and texture.”

Ladies and gentlemen, your Doctor…

Oddly enough, I can’t see modern Doctors Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, or Matt Smith in this face at all, though I do see a few classic Doctors.

“It’s interesting that the face we have developed is not dominated by the features of any one of the actors to have played The Doctor,” said Face Lab’s David Robertson. “Rather it represents a combination of the averaged features of each actor to have taken on the role. Indeed, this face average could guide future casting directors in their search for the ideal actor to play the Time Lord!”

This is fun for Whovians to look at but I can imagine the meeting where one researcher/fan tried to convince the rest this was worthy of their time. Though Kramer did explain the applications of their work.

“Evidence has shown that face-averaging could be a powerful tool. Previous studies indicate that when you make an average image of a face – essentially creating a prototype with the irrelevant information removed – this significantly enhances the ability of a computer to correctly identify a face. This work has clear implications for the security sector in terms of the development of facial recognition technology.”

What do you think of the “real Doctor?” Would you grab his hand and run?

(via BBC News, image via

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Jill Pantozzi
Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."

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