Well, it’s been rumoured for a while, but it was finally confirmed that Matt Smith will be leaving at the end of the year.
I, for one, will be sad to see him go. More than anyone else, he has defined the show for me. When he was first cast, I was wary of someone so young. When the BBC first showed set pictures of him in costume, I thought the tweed and bowtie looked ridiculous. His initial scenes immediately after Tennant’s regeneration failed to impress me. However, from the first moment of his first proper episode, I was sold. There’s an old story concerning Tom Baker, that if you don’t know who he is, all you need to do is close your eyes and think about ‘Doctor Who’. Well, that’s Matt Smith for me. He is the Doctor.
That said, it’s always fun speculating about who will replace him as the Twelfth Doctor, even if in large part that speculation is rather pointless – for all the names being bandied around in the press, chances are it’s going to be someone more-or-less unknown who gets the role. Smith’s a big name now, but nobody knew who he was when he was cast, and even David Tennant wasn’t exactly a house-hold name, although it wouldn’t really be fair to call him an unknown. Realistically though, anyone with a established career under their belt is unlikely to be willing to commit to a few years of eight month shooting schedules, plus press and associated duties.
However, bearing that in mind, I’ve had a think about it, and I’ve got a few names I’d like to toss into the ring. I had a few criteria:
1. They had to be British. Much as there’s a part of me that would kill to see someone like Neil Patrick Harris, or Nathan Fillion at the TARDIS console, there’s something quintessentially British about the show. I don’t particularly care if they cast a non-white actor, or even (gasp, shock) an actress, but British please.
2. Not too famous. As above, I’d absolutely love to see someone like Patrick Stewart in the role, but someone unknown is more likely to stick around, I think. Plus there isn’t the potential distraction of feeling that you’re watching Patrick Stewart, rather than the Doctor who happens to be played by Patrick Stewart.
3. Age. I’d prefer someone a little older than Smith was when he started, but equally I don’t think anyone older than say, fifty-five is a realistic choice. Like it or not, the show is a lot more action packed than it used to be, and while there are of course stunt doubles and the like, anyone taking on the job is going to have to be reasonably young and fit.
4. They haven’t already been in the show, or at least not in the show in a prominent position. Russell Tovey, one of the current popular bets for the role, would therefore be excluded (not that his was a particularly important role, but he works as an example. If you prefer, think of Derek Jacobi, or John Simm).
And so, without further ado, my suggestions for the Twelfth Doctor.
1. Julian Rhind-Tutt
While most of my suggestions aren’t presented in any particular order, I’ve actually had Julian in my mind’s eye as Twelve for a while. I’m mostly familiar with him from ‘Green Wing’, although I’ve seen him in a few things, and he does embody a fair few of the qualities I think of as ‘Doctor-ish’. He can do funny, but he’s not over the top about it; more sardonic and dry than anything else. More importantly, in a lot of the roles I’ve seen him in there’s been something that seems to put him apart from the other characters. In ‘Green Wing’, it’s more that he’s the closest thing in the show to the only sane man than anything else, but it’s a quality that I think would work well with regard to the Doctor’s alien nature. Rather aloof, disengaged from those around him. On top of that, I’ve seen him in a couple of villainous roles, and he can bring something quite sinister to his performances that would lend an extra edge to those scenes where the Doctor goes all intense and badass.
Plus, he’s ginger, and we all know that that’s what the Doctor wants more than anything, right?
2. Olivia Williams.
She’s a smart, talented actress, and she’s got the presence to dominate the screen, while also perfectly capable of bringing a lighter touch to a role. Furthermore, she’s brilliant at conveying the emotion of a scene, which is probably my one criticism of Smith (although it’s arguable how much of that is his acting and how much is the scenes given to him).
3. Sue Perkins
In all honesty, I have no idea whether she’s a good actress or not. But there’s just something about her that screams Doctor to me, whenever I look at her. The problem with that is that she’d possibly be quite similar to Matt Smith in terms of performance. Also, possibly too famous, at least in the UK.
4. Chiwetel Ejiofor
Stretching my criteria a little here, as he’s a pretty well-known actor. Still, he’d be absolutely fantastic as a more serious, quietly intense Doctor.
5. Sean Evans.
The current face of Endeavour Morse, and actor behind probably my favourite performance this year so far. He’d easily be able to convey the almost tortured intelligence of the Doctor; ‘Endeavour’ didn’t exactly call for him to stretch his lighter side, but I’d be happy to see him try.