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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

question of the day: How long will Matt Smith last as the Doctor?

The debut of the newest actor to play the 900-year-old Time Lord is almost upon us: Doctor Who returns on April 3 in the U.K. — that’s Easter Saturday, continuing the tradition for each season’s premiere since the show relauched in 2005 — and April 17 on BBC America (though many American fans, even those who have access to BBC America, will likely not bother to wait that long).

So, what better way to welcome the new Doctor than to speculate on when he’ll depart? How long will Matt Smith last as the Doctor?

I’m gonna say two years.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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  • aquila6

    The Doctor is supposedly 900 years or so old.

    But the iterations we’ve seen never seem to last more than a few years.

    Was he William Hartnell for 850+ years, and then started being reckless and regenerating a lot?

  • Lisa

    I think Matt Smith has been signed for 5 years but it will be interesting to see if he lasts that long. It’s a great role and a great springboard but you have to live in Cardiff for 9 months of the year.

    He’s gonna start running out of lives soon and no Timelords to grant him a reprieve like they gave the master.

  • Kathryn


    If the show is still popular when the Doctor gets to his last ‘life’, I’m sure the writers will find a way to keep him going.

    I’ll say three years for Matt Smith.

  • The Doctor is supposedly 900 years or so old.

    But the iterations we’ve seen never seem to last more than a few years.

    Was he William Hartnell for 850+ years, and then started being reckless and regenerating a lot?

    We don’t see large swathes of the Doctor’s life. The Second Doctor was 450, for example. He’s clearly going through lives a bit faster now, though.

  • RyanT

    I’ll buck the trend and say he’ll last for more than five years.

    Do I believe it? No, not really. But it’d be nice to have the Doctor be a bit more stable, you know? Can’t just be dying left and right. And how about a regular male companion somewhere there? Someone preferably “into” the Doctor. Okay, too much, but still…

  • RB

    Doesn’t matter.

    No one will ever top David Tennett as the doctor.

    Anyone else will be hard to watch, like watching a completely new tv show.

    Don’t know if I’ll be into it.

  • Isobel

    Oh! Lisa! Are you dissing Cardiff? ;)

    I’m giving Matt Smith 3 years as well – although maybe he’ll last longer if he starts appealing to older fans more as he gets older?

    I’m not surprised American fans won’t wait the two weeks for the premiere – I rarely wait for US shows to cross the Atlantic (even Caprica, and that’s only five days behind! Although most are months behind and then I always regret watching at the US pace as there’s the hiatus to deal with when if I’d just had a bit of patience and waited ’til the series appeared in the UK I’d get the whole thing without a big gap in the middle. Ho hum.).

  • SoCalWhovian

    I feel Matt Smith will be on board for 3 years.
    He’ll be great though very different from David Tennant.

    The advantage that Matt will have is the head writer and new executive producer Steven Moffatt has written some of the best episodes from the Eccleston (The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances) and Tennant years (The Girl In A FirePlace, Blink, Silence in The Library/Forest Of The Dead).

    I also think this will be an entirely different production (hence the feeling of watching a new tv show) with an entirely different logo and totally different characters. I feel the emphasis will be going back to basics with more suspense and adventures. It possibly won’t have the long romance-love storyline like with 10th Doctor and Rose.

  • Lisa

    No one will ever top David Tennant as the doctor.

    Cardiff can be very cold and you are away from London which, I am assuming, is where most auditions take place so an actor does become a bit out of the loop

  • Orangutan

    Someone please feel free to correct and/or educate me if I’m wrong here. Aren’t the Timelords limited to 11 lives? And if I’m doing my math right, that would mean that Smith is the last incarnation.

    I’m still catching up on the current run, and I never got to see any of the older ones (pre-Eccleston), so for all I know this has been covered before.

  • MaryAnn

    Time Lords get 12 regenerations for 13 “lives,” but as noted above, someone will retcon a way around that, should the need arise.

    Tom Baker’s Doctor said at one point that he was 749 years old, so — as we fanfic writers know — the Doctor’s been doing lots and lots of living that we’ve never seen on TV.

  • Orangutan

    Thank you for setting my info straight! I must have mis-read or something when I was skimming Who background stuff.

  • Joanne

    I’m going with three years too. I think he’ll start to get itchy feet, like Tennant, after that, if he is as good an actor as everyone says.

  • Jacob

    I read a while ago that he has a contract for 3 years, with options for an additional 2. So he will last at least 3 years.

  • Sandy

    My own personal theory (and what it is too) is that timelords had to draw their regenerations from a single pool of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey energy, and now that there aren’t any other timelords around, the Doctor can have all of that pool. So he should have unlimited regenerations, if he wants them. Let’s see if this theory goes anywhere. :)

    Oh, and I know we only saw Matt Smith for about 30 seconds, but I thought those 30 seconds were fabulous. Knowing that Moffat wanted an older Doctor this time and MS’s performance totally changed his mind, that gives me tremendous hope. I think it’s gonna be wonderful.

  • I would go for two years just so he gets a fair shot at it. But coming off the back of such a popular doctor is going to make it nearly impossible to succeed. In fact I could see him going after just the first year if people do not take to him and the BBC are forced to look for a more charismatic doctor.

  • Barb

    I could have sworn I saw something last year saying that he signed a four-year deal to play the Doctor so that what happened with DT (the constant question as to when he would leave) would be moot.

  • Lisa

    of course they’ll write around the regeneration issue but there’s the potential for a really epic episode there. I can’t wait to see that one!

    Unless Matt Smith balls it all up this year and it’s cancelled for good!

  • SoCalWhovian

    As fan of David Tennant (thanks to his role as The Doctor), I also would have liked DT to stay for 1 more season as I would wonder how much greater he could be with another great writing team, but I guess it’s best to leave the role while you’re ahead and on top of the game. My take is that since it’s another new production crew and team coming in, then DT felt maybe it’s time to move on as well.

    I still think that Matt Smith will be fine and in the role for about 3 years due to the great writing team that is led by Steven Moffatt. Then, like what Joanne said, he might get itchy feet and see what other projects are out there.

  • I love the presumption fans make that Moffat the seasoned television professional has made a terrible mistake in the casting of his lead actor. (Although it’s not impossible, I suppose; I thought James Nesbitt in ‘Jekyll’ was pretty hammy. In fact I thought ‘Jekyll’ was quite cheesy all round.)

    As for me, I’ve more or less resolved not to read any fan reviews or comments for the duration of the next series. That’s partly because there might be a delay in me seeing it and I don’t want to be spoiled (I’m spending some time in Asia and the bandwidth is too narrow to download episodes) but mainly because I think the constant nitpicking from fans has in some ways marred my enjoyment of the show since its revival.

    That’s not a dig at this site, which has in large part been an oasis of common sense in recent years. But I am concerned that with your “Umm, no” comment in the End of Time review, you’re not giving Smith a fair crack of the whip. The guy’s only had a minute of screentime and already some fans (not you, I know you’ve made cautiously positive noises too) are assuming he’s going to be a failure. It’s terribly unfair and destructive is all I can say.

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