Sad news for fans of Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith, the fez-and-bowtie-wearing, fish-fingers-and-custard-eating, proclaimer of what is cool. Smith, the current star of the long-running British TV show Doctor Who, has announced he will be exiting the show.
Smith, known to fans as the Eleventh Doctor, made his first appearance in the knowingly titled 2010 episode, “The Eleventh Hour.” The first actor in the show’s 49-year history to be nominated for a BAFTA award, Smith didn’t give his reasons for departing. But in a BBC press release, he said, “It’s been an honor 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.”
Fear not, fans of the youngest actor to take on the iconic role: Smith will be appearing in the show’s 50th anniversary special in November. The Doctor will be taking on a new face and form in the 2013 Christmas Special.
As fans of the TV show know, the loss of the show’s star doesn’t mean the end of the series. The Doctor is a Time Lord, which means he can regenerate, which is how Patrick Troughton (retronym-ed the Second Doctor), took over the role vacated by William Hartnell (now known as the First Doctor).
But as fans also know, Time Lords only get twelve regenerations. Matt Smith’s incarnation is the eleventh. This means showrunner Steven Moffat needs to be very clever in how he re-crafts the show’s premise…because if he doesn’t, the next doctor—who as we saw in the season 7 finale “The Name of the Doctor” may be played by John Hurt—depending on how you count could be known as the last Doctor. (Or the second to the last. Or even the Valeyard.)
Observant viewers will have spotted one possible get-out-of-plot-hole-free clause from the episode “Let’s Kill Hitler.”
(In the 1981 episode, “The Keeper of Traken,” one of the Doctor’s most popular nemeses, the Master, was able to extend his life by taking over the body of a man named Tremas. But he was evil.)
Fans of the show have been disappointed of late, however, many believe the problem lies with producer Steven Moffat, rather than Smith. Since he’s become the show’s show runner, the scripts have suffered from “thinly veiled misogyny,” explanations that don’t make sense, and have become, worst of all, “boring.”
Doctor Who has 77 million fans in the U.S., UK, and Australia (30 million of those are UK-based). According to BBC America, “Doctor Who is BBC AMERICA’s highest-rated series and premieres as part of the channel’s Supernatural Saturday programming block.”
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