Well, it has just been confirmed, Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor in the long-running Doctor Who TV show, will be leaving the program later this year. His final appearances will be in the 50th anniversary special and the annual Doctor Who Christmas special.
Matt Smith’s departure is a real surprise to many Who fans that have come to love his goofy portrayal of the distaff time-traveling alien. He injected wild energy and enthusiasm into his role as the last Time Lord. His tenure was marked by some behind-the-scene readjustments as Steven Moffat took over as the showrunner for Doctor Who. When asked in an interview about Smith leaving Doctor Who, Moffat could only praise him, saying “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.”
After some growing pains, the show seemed to find its voice and won over many fans, this one included, who looked forward to seeing Smith’s rapid-fire line deliveries and antics. I really liked how he and the show connected with American culture like him donning a cowboy hat and having episodes solidly based in the U.S. Many of the Eleventh Doctor’s episodes stood out like “The Doctor’s Wife” and “The Bells Of Saint John”. Some of the stories weren’t that great but that wasn’t Smith’s fault and he had some memorable Companions like Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and now with Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman), who is staying with the show.
While some of us may be saddened by Smith leaving the role of the iconic Time Lord, the ever-changing nature of the role itself will open up new opportunities for someone else. For anyone who’s not up on Doctor Who lore, the Doctor is an alien that has the ability to change his appearance whenever he is close to dying. This neat plot trick was developed way back in the ’60s when the first actor to play the Doctor (William Hartnell) left the program. It’s really convenient that the character is an alien since the regeneration has allowed new and interesting interpretations of the Time Lord.
As to who (pun intended) will replace Matt Smith, well casting agents are probably busy right now pestering Steven Moffat for auditioning their clients. Rumors are already going wild with the idea of a woman to take over the role to Damien Lewis to even David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor–now that would be a bizarre twist!).
It’s doubtful that anyone can copy Smith’s irascible and eccentric interpretation, nor should it be done. The replacement should be given the chance to add his (or her) own spin to this legendary sci-fi hero. That’s the beauty of Doctor Who.