Rob Lowe has revealed he turned down the opportunity to play Dr Derek Shepherd in Grey's Anatomy to star in the short-lived drama Dr. Vegas.

The 50-year-old actor, who previously starred in The West Wing, left the White House drama in 2003 to star in his own series, The Lyon's Den, which was axed after just six episodes. 

In 2004 Lowe was offered two TV roles, both in medical dramas – Grey's Anatomy and Dr. Vegas.

Recalling the offers in his new memoir Love Life, Lowe writes: "I got an urgent call from the producers of a potential new show for (U.S. network) ABC called Grey's Anatomy. I agreed to meet with the people making Grey's Anatomy.

"I had read it and loved it. The writing was crisp, real and very entertaining, and it's always been a good idea to hear out talented people."

"'We would be thrilled if you would play Dr. Derek Shepherd,' they said right off the bat. I was torn. Grey's was a much better script; in fact, there was no comparison... (but) I chose Dr. Vegas. The odds were just too stacked."

Patrick Dempsey was then offered the part, who became a household name overnight thanks to the success of the show. Dempsey has played Derek Shepherd on the show for the past 10 seasons.

Dr. Vegas, which also starred Amy Adams and Tom Sizemore, was cancelled after just five episodes.