The BBC show Doctor Who has become a cultural phenomenon since Russell T. Davies rebooted the traditional sci-fi show in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston bringing back a brooding Doctor. When he left the show after one season, David Tennant took over as the 10th regenerated Doctor and took the show to another level.


Voted one of the most popular Doctors, he stayed with the show until 2010 when Stephen Moffat took over the franchise, and the Doctor regenerated with the youngest portrayal played by Matt Smith. Now that Smith has announced his departure after the 2013 Christmas episode, fans are already taking bets on who might be the next face of the Doctor.

The show holds a very special place in the formation of my sci-fi fandom. My early education into sci-fi and fantasy grew with watching Doctor Who episodes on PBS. My brother, my early sci-fi dealer who introduced me to Star Trek afternoons after school, would get me to watch the Tom Baker fourth Doctor episodes. As cheesy as they were, they were so much fun, and Doctor Who became a foundational part of my geekness.

My favorite Doctor, like many others, was Tennant. With all the fervor around him, the speculation flew as to who would replace him. When the BBC announced Matt Smith, a lot of people doubted him as the youngest to play the Doctor. Would he be able to pull it off? While he has not received as many accolades as Tennant, he is widely accepted as having succeeded as following Tennant and keeping the franchise going.

Smith brought his own flair of awkward nerdiness to the role, and he’s been supported by some strong companions although the jury is still out on Clara, the latest companion. He’s lasted three years with the role and dealt with the massive fandom and hoopla internationally. So far, the rumors are flying.

There’s a push for a female Doctor, especially after Oscar-winning actress Dame Helen Mirren said, “I would like to play the new female Doctor Who. I don’t want to just be his sidekick.” While Mirren has Smith’s approval, there are other women who are also getting some attention.

Some of the same names suggested before Tennant’s departure are showing up again, and bets could be taken soon. There are already odds on several actors ranging from Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame to actors of diversity including Chiwetel Ejiofor and Adrian Lester. It’s unlikely that a large name such as Martin Freeman, who now plays Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, will take over. There is already talk that actor Ben Daniels has lost the part. Movement on the role has been fast, so it’s still anybody’s game.

There are even Americans who want the historically British part. It may be nice to see so much fervor for the show, but a fair warning to those who might bet on an American – the show is very British and was already pushing boundaries filming in America a few seasons ago. There is a slim-to-none chance of the regeneration to be an American.

One thing is sure – whoever gets the part will face an immense amount of scrutiny from a large fan base as well as an instant push of fame and attention. And as intriguing as it would be to shake things up by having the Doctor regenerate into a woman, I will controversially advise against placing any bets on that. Matt Smith garnered a lot of attention from the second it was announced he had the part, and continues to get massive attention with his departure. Fans will have to trust in the genius that is Stephen Moffat that the next person to play the Doctor will continue to thrill.