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Unless you live under a rock you’ll have heard the big news from last week. Matt Smith is stepping down as Doctor Who at Christmas. After three years and 40-odd episodes in the little blue box he’s moving on. He’s been a brilliant Doctor and I will be sad to see him go.

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I was out when the “Smith Leaving” news broke, caused by BBC damage control after a leaked email and an overzealous fan apparently. I came home to a social media meltdown. Anyone would think most of the people I follow online were sci-fi fans or something; everyone and their dog had an opinion on Smith leaving, on who would replace him, on who should replace him, and whether or not Moffat would go with him. I did notice not many people mentioned John Hurt. I guess most people feel he’s just going to be some 50th anniversary character and not anything long term.

I have to say I’m really going to miss Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor. He really has made the character his own. There’s a funny thing that I noticed about the return of Doctor Who ; each Doctor has been my favourite. Smith is my current favourite. But before the recent run of episodes my favourite was Tennant because I’d been watching repeats on Watch. It seems my favourite Doctor is the last one I watched. I don’t know whether that says something about me or it says something about the excellence of the three actors to play the character since it returned to our screens.

Another odd thing is I was never sure of each new actor when they were first cast. Each time I heard the name of the guy to next play the character I was wary. Ecclestone I knew of, but I didn’t see him as the Doctor. But Tennant and Smith I was only vaguely aware of. And each time it took a few episodes for me to get a feel for the new guy, but I invariably fell for each in turn.

The Usual Suspects

The list of possible replacement that fans are talking about seems to be exactly the same list as the last two times the Doctor regenerated. And the majority of the names seem just as unlikely now as they did the last time they were paraded around. I doubt any of the names being bandied about will get the nod. It’s not going to be someone most of us have heard of. And it’s certainly not going to be some of the big names half the internet seems to support. History suggests it’ll be someone who’s only been on the edge of people’s radar. Someone we might be vaguely aware of but not a household name by any stretch; someone up and coming as it were.

There is, of course, the usual shout for the next incumbent to be black or to be a woman. And I doubt either is likely. Not that either of those ideas would be an issue; I think both could lead to interesting things for the show. It’s just that I can’t see either happening without huge cries of stunt casting or racial/sexual politics gone mad.

I have to say I’m not a big fan of the way Doctors are replaced, or the way we know about characters (Doctors and companions) leaving far in advance of it occurring in the show. Each time we know in advance when the current incarnation is going and we always know who’s going to replace them. Remember when Clara turned up far earlier than we expected? I’d like more of that please. I’d love for the whole regeneration of the Doctor to be a surprise. Keeping it a secret would be a huge coup. I disagree with those who say it would be an impossible thing to keep secret; I think that if the makers really wanted to keep it a secret then it’d be possible. Lots of actors’ guest star in Doctor Who without us knowing much about who they’re playing; a little misdirection could easily cover a new face appearing for a few days filming for a regeneration scene.

Could you imagine finding out that the Doctor was going to regenerate only in the episode in which it happened? That would be amazing. Alas, Who seems to be going the way of the soap and most of the things that I would like to be surprised with are news items long before they happen on screen. I already know far more about the 50th Anniversary episode than I’d like to. I guess the news buzz out weights the surprise factor for the shows makers these days.

Anyhow; we’re going to be getting a new Doctor. And whatever your thoughts on who the new Doctor should be here’s my two pence worth; the actor who will play the next Doc has probably already been cast. I bet he’s a white male between the ages of 25 and 35. And I bet few of us will have heard of them before…

What do you think?

Steven Ellis

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