Kylie Minogue's star turn on Doctor Who, and the return of overexposed Billie Piper, may seem like signs that Doctor Who has finally gone cameo-crazy. But really, stunt casting has a long and trashy tradition in Doctor Who. Sometimes, it's even made the show more watchable. Here's a quick chronology of the show's stunt casting, with grades.
1963-1978 It's like Masterpiece Theatre. You see lots of British character actors popping up (sometimes in multiple roles) but you're never distracted by the appearance of a famous personality. Grade: B+
1979: John Cleese and his then-wife Eleanor Bron appear for a few moments in "The City Of Death," commenting on the TARDIS (the Doctor's ship) as abstract art. Cleese and Tom Baker also filmed a short skit together. Grade: A
1985: Kate O'Mara (Joan Collins' sister from Dynasty) plays the Rani, an amoral member of the Doctor's own race. She's hardly a big star, but her acting doesn't really justify the role. Grade: B-
Late 1980s: Famous (in England) comedian Ken Dodd and comedy duo Hale and Pace have totally gratuitous cameos. They pretty much play themselves, and Dodd wears a totally hideous glittery outfit. Grade: D.
1989: Game show host Nicholas Parsons (basically England's answer to Bob Barker) plays a conflicted reverend in "The Curse of Fenric." It's a meaty role, and Parsons puts everything he's got into it. Grade: B+
1996: Formerly famous Eric Roberts plays arch-villain The Master in the TV movie. Grade: C-.
2005: Washed up pop star Billie Piper becomes the Doctor's new companion, and proves she can act. Grade: A.
2005: Reality TV stars Anne Robinson (The Weakest Link) and Trinny & Susannah (What To Wear) play themselves — only they're robots. Somehow it's an evil Dalek plan. Huh? Grade: D.
2005-2007: Famous (in England) actors Zoe Wanamaker, Peter Kay, Derek Jacobi and John Simm play major roles. Luckily, they're all real actors. Well, except for Kay. Grade: A-.