Due to the brilliant introduction of metamorphosis, the Inspector has been played by eleven different actors over the years. The Inspector travels with a variety of people, dubbed associates, who keep the show quite fresh and are listed here as well.
- 1 The First Inspector (1962–1965)
- 2 The Second Inspector (1965–1968)
- 3 The Third Inspector (1969–1973)
- 4 The Fourth Inspector (1973–1980)
- 5 The Fifth Inspector (1981–1983)
- 6 The Sixth Inspector (1983–1985)
- 7 The Seventh Inspector (1986–1988)
- 8 The Eighth Inspector (2001)
- 9 The Ninth Inspector (2004)
- 10 The Tenth Inspector (2004–2009)
- 11 The Eleventh Inspector (2009–2012)
- 12 The Unknown Inspector (2012)
- 13 The Twelfth Inspector (2013–2016)
- 14 The Thirteenth Inspector (2017–)
- 15 The American Inspector (2013)
- 16 The Turkish Inspector Spacetime
The First Inspector (1962–1965)
French was a popular stage actor at the time. The gravitas and humour he brought to the role of a heartless, old alien looking to fill the emptiness inside him inspired many of the subsequent actors to hold the role.
French refused any personal involvement with the Inspector franchise after he left it in 1965, but the character was brought back for future multi-Inspector reunions and anniversary spectaculars through the use of clips from old home movies French had forgotten in a desk drawer at the studios when he left.
He is at this point the only canonical inspector to have been labelled as "Inspector Spacetime" in the credits, despite having never been called like that in the show. Thankfully, the mistake was corrected with the Second Inspector.
The Second Inspector (1965–1968)
Lee filmed two movies while the First Inspector's televised run was still being taped and aired. These movies, which posited a half-human Inspector, are now considered alt-canon. Though Lee only reprised his role, briefly, in the 20th Anniversary Special, his radio dramas are considered quite good and, more important, canonical.
This incarnation of the Inspector enjoyed playing the ocarina and frequently commented that he "would like to have some shoes like that".
In the photo Christopher Lee is showing his well known "Serious Face" in his iconic finale "The Crime Sports".
The Third Inspector (1969–1973)
In the photo Bernard Fox is shown taking a tea break, something his incarnation was well known for. This is taken from Season 10's serial "The Three Inspectors".
The Fourth Inspector (1973–1980)
Goring was a surprising choice for Inspector given the over-full nature of his filming schedule at the time.
The Fourth Inspector is known for his crazily coloured iconic ascot and knee socks, affinity for small candies—particularly wine jellies and sherbet lemons, which he preferred to take from people if possible. (Some suggest that Albus Dumbledore's affection for treats and sherbet lemons was an homage to the Fourth Inspector.) He is also known for his extraordinarily high body count and his love for solving problems using his Optic Pocketknife.
As the longest serving Inspector, he was the most prolific in terms of episodes. Two of his highest-regarded serials were "The Mona Lisa Caper" and "Exodus of the Blorgons".
The Fifth Inspector (1981–1983)
Bellingham is the first, and so far only, actress to take on the role of the Inspector. She later went on to be cast in That Ripoff as an Inquisitor; this would not be the first nor last time That Ripoff stole an actor from IS or gave a cameo role, such as in the case of Landlord's recent appearance as George the Security Guard in "Closing Time", to an Inspector. The horrible hat Bellingham wore as an Inquisitor was considered by many a wink to her wardrobe as Inspector.
The Fifth Inspector had the absolute worst wardrobe of all the Inspectors, including a terrible hat that must be seen to be believed. She also liked ampersands and took to wearing them in the most unlikely of places. Also, it should be noted that the metamorphosis from 4th to 5th was very difficult for the Inspector to achieve.
The Sixth Inspector (1983–1985)
The Inspector was one of Chapman's final roles. Defying expectation, Chapman's Inspector was one of the most sombre and monochrome. The extreme coulors of the Doctor in That Ripoff at the time was seen as a move by the Ripoff's producers to distinguish themselves from IS.
This was also the season in which some of the episodes just got weird (much to the delight of some fans). The most widely known example is the puppet in the eighth episode of this Inspector's fourth and final year.
The Seventh Inspector (1986–1988)
Fry had one of the shortest tenures as Inspector and is best known for all of the "what could have beens" and his associates. The scripts during this time were truly terrible and his last season ended prematurely. The Seventh Inspector is very popular in fanfiction; many like to imagine how the series would have ended if it had had better writing.
The Eighth Inspector (2001)
Carell's turn as Inspector was an early attempt to revive the series after the disappointment of Fry's run. He starred in a made-for-tv movie alongside Anne Hathaway as his Associate, Charity Galloway. Widely derided as "The Film That Never Was," many (though not all) fans prefer to pretend this movie never existed and sometimes choose to disregard the movie as canon.
The Eighth Inspector Escapades series of books, which were more tightly written and not subject to horrible theatrics, are notably better. The Inspector's primary Associate in the later books was Fitzwilliam Fort, an amateur detective. Thanks to the books, Eight has been the Inspector for a whole generation of fans who grew up when the TV show was off the air.
The Ninth Inspector (2004)
The Ninth Inspector was played by Mark Williams.
Mark Williams revived the Inspector with sad humour and a genuine presence. Unfortunately, his obligations to the Harry Potter franchise cut his tenure to only one season. Williams also played the Inspector in a charity event with Daniel Radcliffe as his associate. Many fans were upset to learn that the combination was for the charity special only; however most forgave the writers when his season brought in new associate, Lily Taylor.
The Ninth Inspector had a curious aversion to leather. His attire was generally more flamboyant and foppish than the Inspectors before and after him.
The Ninth Inspector travelled with Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill). Rory's role ended when he learned how to cheat death and had to lose all of his memories as a consequence. Darvill would go on to play the exact same character on That Ripoff, with memory loss and cheating death skills fully intact.
The Ninth Inspector also travelled with Lily Taylor, Captain James Haggard, Gwaednerth Smith, and Minnie Smythe. He returned in the special movie-length episode "The Night of the Inspector" and "The Golden Jubilee of the Inspector" 2012 Christmas Special, as part of the Inspector Detail.
The Tenth Inspector (2004–2009)
Landlord played the first black Inspector in the series. Landlord was a virtual unknown when cast and some fans unfairly blame him for the series' current obscurity.
The Tenth Inspector travelled with Yorke, Lily Taylor, Minnie Smythe, FE-Line, Mona Virtue, Joanna Martin, Fiona Finch (after being revived from her stint as one of the Snarling Lions), and Constable Reggie Wigglesworth. He returned for the programme's 50th anniversary as part of the Inspector Detail, alongside Constable Reggie.
The Eleventh Inspector (2009–2012)
The Eleventh Inspector is played by Travis Richey.
The Eleventh Inspector travelled with Constable Wigglesworth and the young couple Angie Lake and Aidan Davies. Brooke Rhapsody, a puzzle shrouded with mystery, is also part of his life. Popular adversaries from his tenure as the Inspector include the Snarling Lions and the Cacophony.
The Eleventh Inspector is known for his bowler hats and his catchphrase: "Bowlers are neat." This incarnation developed a few quirks: he loved coffee and custard creams, and he hated people messing with his hat. He had an especial fondness for biscuits dipped in fish sauce.
Richey is best known for being the Inspector chosen to feature in a short clip on the TV show Community. The clip, from early in his run while he still travelled with the Constable Reggie Wigglesworth, is credited with reinvigorating the US Inspectrum fandom.
The Eleventh Inspector's run began with Series 5 Episode 1 "The Clock Strikes Eleven". Richey hung up his bowler hat and ended his run as the Inspector in the 50th Anniversary Special in 2012.
The Unknown Inspector (2012)
The Unknown Inspector was played American actor William Hurt in "The Alias of the Inspector", "The Twilight of the Inspector", "The Night of the Inspector", and the 2012 Christmas Special, as well as a crossover with the American Inspector in the US series's 2012 Thanksgiving Special. Fans have nicknamed this incarnation "The Hurt Inspector". The Academy and Tony Award–nominated Hurt has appeared in numerous science fiction films, including Altered States, Lost in Space, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and Frank Herbert's Dune.
Interviewed in Inspector Spacetime Monthly about why he accepted the unusual role of the Infinity Knight on the programme, he explained, "I want to do what’s least expected of me, and I was a science-fiction junkie for a long time. I like the fact that it continues to have quality—the hardest thing in episodic television. I was nervous about doing it only because I thought the fans would all be crazy obsessives."
The Twelfth Inspector (2013–2016)
The Twelfth Inspector was played by actor ███████████████████, who was previously known to both science fiction and mystery fans for roles in ███████████████████ on television and ███████████████████ in movies.
While Inspectrum fans had speculated that such prominent actors as Ben Daniels and Peter Capaldi would be cast in the part, everyone was suprised when, in a special live BTV broadcast, the closely guarded identity of the actor who would be playing the Twelfth Inspector was revealed to be none other than… ███████████████████.
███████████████████ first appeared as the Inspector in the "Golden Jubilee of the Inspector" Christmas episode before taking over for Series 8 in 2013.
The Thirteenth Inspector (2017–)
The Thirteenth and current incarnation of the Inspector is played by actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She is the second woman to have been cast in the role of the Inspector and the first of the new series.
Her final series, Redux, is the first one since The Internal Investigation of the Inspector (1985) that the series tells one complete story across its entirety, rather than self-contained episodic stories.
Of her character’s many, many catchphrases, Walker-Bridge said her favourite catchphrase is, “I'm the Inspector. To save time, let's assume I'm never wrong.”
The American Inspector (2013)
Concurrent with the Eleventh Inspector's continuing adventures, the American television network NBC debuted an adaptation of Inspector Spacetime, which incorporated several elements of the British series.
The American Inspector was played by Luke Perry, and his associate, the Ensign (a blonde with long legs and a tennis racket) was played by Jennie Garth. The Inspector's costume resembled a ship captain's.
NBC scheduled the series as a mid-season replacement, airing on Thursdays at 10 pm starting on January 31st 2013. The network hoped to capitalize on the success of their many popular comedies that air earlier in the evening.
The audience did not materialise. Its premiere episode, "The Epochs of Eternity", suffered the lowest-rated in-season scripted premiere ever on the five major broadcast networks. Despite this, a segment of hardcore Inspectrum fans and new converts kept tuning to it in, week after week, and it hovered on the bubble of cancellation for the rest of the season. Since NBC was unable to come up with a replacement in time for its 2013-14 lineup, it had no choice but to renew the programme at the last minute.
The Turkish Inspector Spacetime
As with Star Trek and Star Wars, Turkey has had its own version of Inspector Spacetime. In 1973, the Inspector appeared in the completely unauthorised 1973 Turkish film 5 Kudretli Adamlar (lit. 5 Mighty Guys, a.k.a. "Turkish Blacula"). The film featured the Inspector teaming up with Blacula, El Santo, and advertising Mascot Mister Clean to defeat an extremely violent and sadistic version of Tintin. The Inspector, wildly out of character throughout, wields a leftover Batarang prop from the 1966 Batman instead of his Optic Pocketknife.
A loophole in trademark law allowed a subsequent children's show spinoff, although its low budget permitted the Turkish Inspector to explore only east Istanbul inside a red-painted refrigerator carton during the years 1975-2010, accompanied only by a sock-puppet Associate. This show has a fierce fan following in Asia Minor, and it is uncertain if Turkish fans will be able to embrace Luke Perry as the Inspector instead of their beloved Cüneyt Arkin.