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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Doctor Who thing: Matt Smith is leaving the show; 12th Doctor not yet named

Matt Smith Doctor Who

I don’t usually post Doctor Who Things on the weekend, but this is a big deal. From the BBC’s official Doctor Who site:

The BBC is today announcing that Matt Smith is to leave Doctor Who after four incredible years on the hit BBC One show. Matt first stepped into the TARDIS in 2010 and will leave the role at the end of this year after starring in the unmissable 50th Anniversary in November and regenerating in the Christmas special. During his time as the Doctor, Matt has reached over 30 million unique UK viewers and his incarnation has seen the show go truly global. He was also the first actor to be nominated for a BAFTA in the role.

Matt quickly won over fans to be voted Best Actor by Readers of Doctor Who Magazine for the 2010 season. He also received a nod for his first series at the National Television Awards, before winning the Most Popular Male Drama Performance award in 2012.

Matt has played one of the biggest roles in TV with over 77 million fans in the UK, USA and Australia alone!

Matt Smith says: “Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show. I’m incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day, to realise all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience. Many of them have become good friends and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years.

“Having Steven Moffat as show runner write such varied, funny, mind bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career. It’s been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven, he’s a good friend and will continue to shape a brilliant world for the Doctor.

“The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I’ve never seen before, your dedication is truly remarkable. Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, number Eleven, who I might add is not done yet, I’m back for the 50th anniversary and the Christmas special!

“It’s been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS for a spell with ‘the ginger, the nose and the impossible one’. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys. Matt.”

Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer, says : “Every day, on every episode, in every set of rushes, Matt Smith surprised me: the way he’d turn a line, or spin on his heels, or make something funny, or out of nowhere make me cry, I just never knew what was coming next. The Doctor can be clown and hero, often at the same time, and Matt rose to both challenges magnificently. And even better than that, given the pressures of this extraordinary show, he is one of the nicest and hardest-working people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Whatever we threw at him – sometimes literally – his behaviour was always worthy of the Doctor.

“But great actors always know when it’s time for the curtain call, so this Christmas prepare for your hearts to break, as we say goodbye to number Eleven. Thank you Matt – bow ties were never cooler.

Of course, this isn’t the end of the story, because now the search begins. Somewhere out there right now – all unknowing, just going about their business – is someone who’s about to become the Doctor. A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again! After 50 years, that’s still so exciting!”

So: How would you like to see Smith leave the show? And who should be the 12th Doctor?

(If you stumble across a cool Doctor Who thing, feel free to email me with a link.)

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  • DoctorWhoAwesomeness

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if benedict cumberbatch became number 12? *by the way cheering myself up after the shock of this news*

  • John Brown

    The three British actors I can really see taking up the role at this point are David Morrisey, Jonny Lee Miller, or Benedict Cumberbatch. Not only are they stellar actors, but they all have the eccentricity and charisma to pull the role off. Lee Miller is my personal favorite choice for the role, but I find it unlikely.

  • Adara-Chase Lock

    I think that jonny Lee miller or benedict Cumberbatch should be the next doctor or potentially a female doctor….

  • Baldurdash

    It probably won’t happen, but I’d really like it if somehow, Eleven knew it was going to happen and managed to get his memories downloaded into the Library so he could be with River.


    The Who fans won’t accept a female doctor.

  • Pootisman

    I really hope that Benedict will NOT be the Doctor. I’m just no fan of Benedict, and I want someone else to play the role. I don’t want Matt to leave at the first place. I knew already in Season 6 that he was gonna go when they said ”The fall of the Eleventh”. Pretty obvious that they meant the regeneration. But Matt has been a hero to me, and I don’t want him to leave. I am a huge fan, and he really does his role BRILLIANT!! But Benedict.. Of course, he is a good actor, but not as The Doctor. I can’t imagine that, I just can’t. Please don’t pick Benedict :/

  • NO


  • Alex Gray

    O RLY? I’m sure that the fans would love Helena Bonham Carter as 12. She knows how to be mad and chaotic- perfect for the Doctor.

  • Pootisman

    NO! Benedict can’t be the Doctor. I just can’t see him as it! And why would you be cheering, by the way? This was actually Matt Smith’s role. I think he did a better job than even David Tennant. Matt Smith is a brilliant actor, and I give him my fullest respect!

  • I’d like an older person; maybe Jason Watkins. If going young I’d like Damien Molony (who played Hal in Being Human) but really I’d like a female Doctor because that would change things and give a new energy to the show though I’m not sure who.

  • Steve

    Russel Tovey would be brilliant, but you got me thinking that Aidan Turner would be even better.

  • 12th Doctor is gonna be a relatively unknown actor… maybe even actress considering they’ve set up the possibility of cross-gender regens with The Corsair. Although I would think Matthew Lewis (aka Sexy Neville) would get the fangirls all atwitter.

  • O RLY? Who fans have been fanficing that concept for AGES. There was a Seattle group that made fan vids with a woman taking over from Colin Baker (6th), that weren’t that bad. When they introduced the concept of gender-crossing with The Corsair, the fans I saw chatting aboot it online had NO PROBLEM with the concept.


    I’m hoping it won’t be Cumberbatch, as to me he IS Sherlock, and don’t want that to be ruined.
    I’ve also heard Radcliffe and Grint been thrown around a bit, but they are just to young.
    Has anyone actually thought that John Hurt IS THE NEXT DOCTOR!

  • Pootisman

    He said that in Name of the Doctor. He said he was himself. He also said ”I never said he was The Doctor”. John Hurt is The Doctor’s secret. Not the Doctor himself

  • applekate

    I’m not at all into Doctor Who, but curiosity got the better of me and I have to ask: Why do actors keep leaving this show? It’s apparently the role of a lifetime, the actor is lousy with awards and fan praise, and the head honcho loves him. So why leave?

  • Paul

    Lucy Liu?

  • Paul

    To do other things.

    To get away from the fan pressure.

    To have a life…

  • Tarayn Marissa Svalberg

    The character “The Doctor” is always on adventures of sorts. Seeing spectacular worlds and universes, but constantly saving people. Now and again those adventures can lead to fatalities. The Doctor has almost died 11 times. Each time a Time Lord (his alien species) faces death survival can be achieved by reincarnating the body. He becomes new in the ways of the body and personality, but is still mentally the same person. Therefore, these actors don’t just merely leave the show, they’re often written off. The Doctors usually change every few seasons.

  • Tarayn Marissa Svalberg

    OMG. That would be AMAZING!

  • Kat

    Change is the DNA of the story. That is what it’s about. Many of the actors do it for a good long while, but it’s expected that after a while they’ll bow out and pass the role on to someone else. They do it for various lengths, but it’s always just a matter of time. Rarely do they leave due to any sort of ill will, it’s more just of matter of leaving when the time is right.

  • KerriK

    Haven’t really given much thought to a female being next in line, but the idea of Helena Bonham Carter as #12 thrills me! I think she would be excellent! Dammit, now my hopes are up. This is why I just go with the flow! Lol

  • Starkid Ranger

    Joe Moses for the 12th doctor!!!! #StarKidsUnite

  • Jem

    Good luck in the future. Seems a genuinely nice guy and a talented actor with a big career ahead of him. Totally expected timing with the 50th as his swansong and about to break big in the US with the Ryan Gosling film and all of the further contacts this will give him. Will continue to be a grand ambassador for the Doctor Who brand. Definitely the right time to go as I think under the current showrunner his character had begun to run out of steam. I have never liked the way the 11th doctor was written – inconsistent character and too much idiotic childishness – but Matt Smith’s talent shone through in even the worst scripts.

    Pretty well guaranteed BAFTA winner next year given his critical acclaim in the mainstream media. Will Dan Martin need counselling to cope, I wonder?

    Roll on Number 12 but new showrunner soon, please….


  • amego

    Gerrard butler is the new doctor…

  • Kate

    It’s not that they just always leave the show, the character actually changes. He rengenerates into a new iteration of the doctor. It’s what happens when a timelord (his alien species) “dies.” He gets involved in lots of dangerous things and risks his life to save earth, the universe, humanity, and such, so much that eventually he runs into to something that will be his end. Each doctor is unique in that they all have their own personalities,too, so you never get the same doctor twice. When he regenerates he’s still the doctor, but it’s like he has someone else’s memories (from all the previous doctor versions). I hope that makes sense.

  • dragonfiesta

    Rupert Grint, or Amara Karan

  • Kate

    I really doubt Cumberbatch will be the doctor. They approached him for the role when trying to pick out 11 and he said while he liked Moffat and liked the role, he wanted to do darker characters. He would be a good nemesis for the show, but not the doctor.

  • SrPatrickStewart

    Don’t tease me in such ways

  • Jem

    Some fans find it hard to believe that Doctor Who may not necessarily be the greatest role to which any actor can aspire. It’s undoubtedly a career leg up but I think Christopher E would still be making films in Hollywood, David Tennant would be turning up on TV regularly and appearing on stage and Matt Smith would probably be headlining something on BBC even without being in the role. None of the big names touted as future doctors will be taking the part as being The Doctor means locking you into a role for a number of years with limited options to do anything else. I also find it amusing every time I read that CE or DT must regret leaving since they’ve been in nothing “worthwhile” since then. I suspect both have had no time to even think such thoughts they’ve been so busy on stage, film and TV ( not always the greatest quality of course but it’s all work) and no doubt MS will be the same.

    Notwithstanding as DT once said, the first line of his obituary has already been written


  • the doctor

    I have heard rumours going round that it could be an unknown actor called Ryan Vacey , done abit of a google search and i think he could be a great Doctor ! , more of a wild card choice to

  • Matt Clayton

    I thought there was a reason I could hear MAJ’s agonized “NO!” all the way here in NC. (Just kidding.)

    They should probably skew a bit older for the 12th Doctor, just to keep things fresh.

  • They’re all currently busy in other roles, aren’t they? The Walking Dead, Elementary and Hollywood in general, respectively…

  • The more I think about it, the more I realise HBC would be perfect…

  • jack

    He’s actully really good looks abit young but tbh i think i could let that slide i say give the guy a go, ryan vacey for 12th doctor :P

  • Lowell Rapaport

    hugh laurie.

  • sophie
  • Oh, or Andrew Scott who played Moriarty in Sherlock.

  • Dr. Rocketscience




    I kinda figured we’d have a couple more years yet until we got here.

    Well, I’m not looking forward to another overwrought death/regeneration scene, I must say. They’re tedious and anticlimactic.

    I do think it’s time for an older, or at least older looking, Doctor. And I’ve been up for having a woman in the role for a while now.

    Off the top of my head: Kate Winslet, Rosamund Pike, Kelly Macdonald? Or Jack Davenport. Naveen Andrews, Robert Carlyle (he’s been in the mix before, and seems to enjoy doing television)?

  • Erin Treat

    Chiwetel Ejiofor would be my first pick. Benedict Cumberbatch would be amazing and I think if he wanted it they’d give it to him.

    For a different pick I say Sally Hawkins. She’s a real favorite of mine ever since Fingersmith and then Happy Go Lucky.

  • Danielm80

    Wow, I was going to suggest two out of three of your choices. I would have suggested Benedict Cumberbatch, too, but I’m selfish, and I want him to keep making new episodes of Sherlock.

    Actually, though, I want them to cast Tracey Ullman. She has enough range to play the 12th, 13th, and 14th Doctors.

    And based on his outfit in this picture, I’d say that Michael Stipe is clearly auditioning to play the Doctor:


  • Martin

    Thank you for speaking on my behalf. It’s so nice to know I’ve got other people to think for me.

    Yes, there will be that contingent of people that won’t be happy about it and that just makes me laugh. The Doctor has been a beacon of rationalism, tolerance and acceptance for a long while and for some of his fans to be unhappy about the possibility of a female Doctor strikes me as missing the point, somewhat. As of The Doctor’s Wife, gender-swap regenerations are now canon so it’s certainly possible (not that it needs prior canon as an excuse; it wouldn’t be the first time the show has hand-waved anything).

    My pick for the next Doctor? I’m going to be dull and say I’m not playing this game, it’ll be a relative unknown so whilst we’ve probably seen the next Doctor in the background of other shows (possibly Doctor Who, it’s happened before), we won’t know his name yet.

  • pnakotic

    As a Who fan I would have no problem with the Doctor being a woman, but it would be a HUGE change for the audience to accept. I would suggest someone who carries an air of authority and is perhaps a bit older to be the first woman Doctor. Maybe, Helen Mirren?

    For the record the first person I thought of was Chiwetel Ejiofor, but I think he was in the running for 11 so I’m not sure if that will keep him out of the running for 12 (assuming he wants the role).

  • Isabelle May

    My concern for the idea of a female Doctor is how they would deal with the gender identity of the new incarnation. My thought would have been that, just because the body has all the XX chromosome parts, that does not necessarily mean that he’ll lose his identity as a male. Having said that, we have no idea just how such concepts apply to an alien species, with different cultural norms and whatnot.

  • DuffPaddy

    I’m sure they’d be great in the role, but as they’re already in-demand actors I can’t see them taking it, apart from maybe a single season a la Eccleston. And I think the producers would be looking for someone to sign up for at least two or three years. So I think it’s likely to be an up-and-comer rather than an established (and expensive) thesp.

    But of course, David Morrissey has already (sort of) played the Doctor, in The Next Doctor.

  • RogerBW

    I wouldn’t have said so five years ago, but she’s done a surprisingly good job in Elementary (though that’s just been renewed, so she probably wouldn’t be available). Ditto Maggie Q.

    Helen Mirren probably wouldn’t want the high-pressure filming schedule. Joanna Lumley might be up for doing it again.

    I’ve always found Smith very unpleasant to watch – something about his face – but clearly many people don’t feel that way.

  • Henry Sepulveda

    Very disappointing.

    It had been announced earlier that 11 would stay through 2014 & I thought it was perfect. But I guess you have to respect his personal decision. Matt Smith, thank you so very much for all the thrilling experiences your Doctor provided. To come in after such a popular Doctor as Tennant and not loose any momentum to the show is a great tribute to your talent, abilities and love for the character. I will miss you … GERONIMO!!!

    Oh, and it will probably again be another unknown actor to take the role as 12.

    Take care,
    Henry from CO

  • Henry Sepulveda

    Great answers below but I think that the actors who were former Doctors some how know that they had taken the character as far as it could go and that its time to move on. But this should also include the production team as well. Every few years you need to have to complete overhaul of the show to keep fresh and moving forward.

  • Henry Sepulveda


    I would not have been as upset if Executive Producer Steven Moffat announced he is leaving. I’ve enjoyed many many moments with him in charge, but I can’t help but feeling we need a fresh new look into The Doctor production team.

  • teenygozer

    I hope they never, ever go for someone who is already famous. It should always be someone who’s largely an unknown.

  • lescarr

    I can’t see any way for him not to leave. RTD nailed it when he said that a new team needs a fresh slate, so if Moffat stays for the next Doctor then he’d have to commit to the entire regeneration (another 4 years?) I think the only reason that it’s not been announced is that would give the media too much scope for #doctorwhofail stories.

  • Martin

    On 11’s departure, I’m not sure on the specifics, but I’d love to see him go during the Christmas special, Maybe I’m still bitter over 10’s overly long departure and it’s not because I don’t like 11, but I’d love to see a regeneration where the Doctor literally has no time to stop because he’s in the middle of something. It would also give us a longer taste of the new Doctor.

  • Martin
  • Rob

    My current pet choice would be Richard Ayoade. Or, if they’d go much older and non-British, John Noble.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    By that logic, Davies should have left when Eccleston left. Also, that was a comment made by Davies, not Moffat, so you can’t hold Moffat to it.

    There’s no rule that says “New Doctor = New Showrunner” or vice versa. Generally speaking, having that kind of extreme shakeup, all at once, is a very risky proposition for a long running show. It worked between the 10th and the 11th, but I don’t see the BBC anxious to try to get that lightning to strike twice.

    The way for Steven Moffat to not leave is for him to not leave. The show is successful*, he’s happy running it, his only other major project is on an extended hiatus. He has no real reason to leave.

    *detractors’ confirmation biases notwithstanding

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    i remember some sort of announcement like that as well. I figured it to mean that Smith would leave midway through the 8th season. I wonder what changed? Tension on set? BBC schedule pressures? A young actor becoming restless?

  • RogerBW

    While I would be much more hopeful about the show if Moffat were to leave, I agree with you that I don’t think he will at this point.

  • Hank Graham


  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Johnny Lee Miller will be in the middle of production of season 2 of Elementary when season 8 of Doctor Who has to begin filming. So, unless he quits the American show, he’s unavailable.

    David Morrissey probably has more flexibility in his schedule with The Walking Dead, and characters on that show have a tendency to drop like flies. His previous appearance in “The Next Doctor” is problematic, but not completely inconsistent with Doctor Who history. (Colin Baker, Freema Agyeman, and Karen Gillan had all appeared in small roles previous to joining the regular cast.)

    A lot of people seem keen on Benedict Cumberbatch on the role. First, I think this has as much to do with the way Moffat and Gatiss write the characters of the Doctor and Sherlock Holmes as anything Cumberbatch brings. But that’s part of the problem: for Cumberbatch, it could be very much a case of “same role, different set”. Second, Cumberbatch has already publicly stated that he’s not interested in ever taking the part, and it’s not as though his profile has sunk since then. And third, despite a history of recasting actors in one-off roles, I don’t see Moffat being quite that incestuous with his stable of players as that*. So, I don’t think there’s a chance in hell Benedict Cumberbatch even auditions for the 12th Doctor. On the other hand, I’s thought there was no chance in hell about another recent project of Cumberbatch’s. >.>

    *Of course, that would eliminate one of my picks, Jack Davenport.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    If it makes you feel any better:

    Steven Moffat seems keenly aware of how the nature of the show changes whenever the Doctor regenerates. So, I think there’s a very good chance he will take the show in a new direction in 2014.

    Yes, it might get worse, but it might get better, and at least it will be different.

  • lescarr

    By my logic, RTD either had to leave when Ecclestone left, or stay on for an entire extra regeneration. Which he did.

    Obviously you can’t hold Moffat to anything that RTD says. You can’t even hold Moffat to anything that Moffat says (see: Rule #1.) I have no insider knowledge of Moffat’s intentions, but given the way that his star has risen since he said “yes” to this job five years ago, I would be hugely surprised if he didn’t want to take on other (more ambitious) projects on a more than “hiatus” basis.

  • lescarr

    I’d bet the name of the actor to play the next Doctor is well known – but only to casting directors in the UK as a talent to watch out for. I certainly hope that I’ve never heard of him (or her), because the experience of falling in love with the unknown Matt Smith has been fabulous.

  • Sophie Ratcliffe

    i want russell howard to be the next doctor, or thomas rees kaye or shane dawson, WHOS WITH ME!?!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    By my logic, RTD either had to leave when Ecclestone left, or stay on for an entire extra regeneration. Which he did.

    But there’s no “had to”. There’s no rule that says a producer can only leave when the actors do. In fact, actors leaving while producers stay (and vice versa) is the more common occurrence on any show.

    I would be hugely surprised if he didn’t want to take on other (more ambitious) projects

    Like what? oO

    And while he may choose to do exactly that, that’s a very different scenario than the “either he leaves now or he’s stuck here until the 13th Doctor” one you’re suggesting.

  • Jem

    I wonder whether 1) MS was missing opportunities due to the uncertain production schedule over the last little while and drew the line for the producers OR 2) as soon as he signed on for the ryan Gosling film, it opened up further doors and offers he couldn’t afford to miss OR 3) this was the plan all along and worked into the wider plan about having this year with the 50th as the centrepiece as the first part of his farewell. Probably a bit of all of above and three seasons seems to be a good length to be in the show.

    I’m still waiting for doctor Who to take over the airwaves this year as suggested by Mr Moffat so maybe an announcement soon about when S8 will be filmed and shown But with this announcement looks like it will only be 50th (double length eppie?) and Crimbo farewell (maybe 90 mins or over two night/Christmas/New Year?). Still it does draw attention away from that piece of PR “misspeak”.


  • ohiopokey

    Cumberbatch becoming the Doctor would be what is called a lateral move. He already plays a brilliant manic madman. Put him in a blue box and there would be too much same-ness. And I think he’s one-dimensional as Sherlock. I can imagine many great actors for the role, but as has been said, it will be much easier to embrace a relative unknown who does not bring baggage with him. Yes, him. Unless the BBC wants to lose all the squee-ing new fans (like me) from the past few years….

  • Guest

    besides, I already resent because him because his show has messed up “MY” show’s schedule

  • A real ginger – Rose Leslie!

  • I suspect Cumberbatch’s plate is overfull for the next few years. Think he’d make a great Doctor, but there’s no way he’s going to do it now.

  • Henry Sepulveda

    For me on the roof scolding the Atraxi is when I was sold Matt Smith was the next Doctor. Geronimo buddy!!


  • Isobel_A

    I’d never thought of that – but whooooo! That’d be completely amazing.

  • Isobel_A

    I’d like Chiwetel Ejiofor, also – I was rooting for him last time, not least because – just look at the man!

  • Doctor80

    I would like David Thewlis as the Doctor. I’ve been saying this everywhere lately but still. He would be awesome.


  • OMG John Noble!!!

  • LaSargenta

    Carla Henry. The Doctor needs to go out as female.

  • mahtero

    Personally, I would like to see the part go to David Morrisey who played Jackson Lake in the Christmas episode with the Cybermen and David Tenant as the Doctor (the best Doctor ever).

  • Greyhound

    Yes yes yes on Kelly Macdonald. I always love seeing her in new movies/TV shows because she’s a fantastic actress, and she doesn’t have a ton of baggage to bring to the role with her. If 12 is a woman, I hope it’s her.

    If 12 is a man, on the other hand, I’m going with Chiwetel Ejiofor like I’ve seen pretty much everyone else on the planet suggest. He’s fantastic. ^_^

  • Hank Graham

    I didn’t come up with this one, a friend did, but the moment he said it, I was onboard:

    LARA PULVER, who played Irene Adler in “Sherlock.”

  • lescarr

    What if as a result of the stress of confronting and re-integrating his mysterious alter-ego, the Doctor DEgenerates so that the part will be played by David Tennant, whose appearance in the 50th anniversary episode is no more than a smokescreen to fool the press.

    ** for tonight

  • sam

    if moffat dont pick this guy hes nuts! , hes a star waiting to happen!

  • gemma

    YES! hes perfect

  • will

    moffat come on get this guy!

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