On Friday, the BBC announced that Doctor Who star Matt Smith, who's portrayed the Eleventh Doctor since 2009 would be leaving the series at the end of 2013.
According to a statement from Smith, “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.
Smith will be appearing in this year’s 50th Anniversary episode, alongside Tenth Doctor David Tennant, and his last episode in the series will be the 2013 Christmas Special.
Since the announcement, speculation has grown about a possible replacement for the titular character. The Doctor’s regeneration is one of the keys to the show’s longevity, and while it’s been thought that there would only be thirteen regenerations in all (mentioned in the episode Deadly Assassin, 1976), the BBC has reversed that, and the franchise will undoubtably continue.
It’s unknown at this point who will be the next Doctor. Names from people such as Tilda Swinton to Rupert Grint to Russell Tovey have been suggested as potential candidates. However, the trend seems to be a British actor with some (but potentially not extensive) television and film experience. In recent years, many have noted that they would like to see a racial or gender change for the Doctor, but in all likelihood, we won’t know until later this year.