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So Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who. His incarnation of the Doctor will regenerate during the Christmas special which always airs on Christmas Day.

This is not totally unexpected. Smith has been in the role since 2010 for series (“seasons”, if you prefer) 5, 6, and 7. David Tennant also did three series (and a handful of specials) Christopher Eccleston only did one series and fans have felt deprived ever since. Fans thought Smith would probably go during or at end of series 8, due out sometime in 2014, so this is a little earlier than expected. And the nerds are reeling.

Still, this has happened before. Ten times before, to be exact. Matt Smith is (was, if you’re already viewing him past tense) the eleventh Doctor. But even though long-time fans are used to this sort of thing, it’s always bittersweet when it actually comes.

If you’re like me, whenever a new Doctor comes in, you like him, but…you just don’t think he’ll be as good as the last guy. And then, when that Doctor’s regeneration finally comes, you can’t stand to see him go. In the classic era, the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) was my Doctor. In the new series, it’s probably Tennant, but Smith is, somewhat to my surprise, a close second, though I do wonder if Eccleston could have been a favorite, given more time.

Every regeneration is like the passing of a friend. The character of the Doctor has aged from a couple hundred years, to well over a thousand in the current series. But the actors playing the Doctor have ranged in age from twenties (Smith) to fifties (Hartnell – and his 1st Doctor was played as seeming even older than that), so the loss of a Doctor can also feel like losing a brother, a dad or a contemporary depending on that Doctor’s relative (appearing) age to you.

The Internet is buzzing this week. Who will the new be Doctor be? Tom Hiddleston? Simon Pegg? Ben Daniels? There’s even a few votes for Hugh Laurie (remember “House”?), which I admit intrigues me a little.

Maybe the new Doctor will be a woman. I’ve written here before how I’m not opposed to that concept, but really worry about the powers that be executing it well.

Whoever it is, when the announcement is made, my first reaction will probably be: “Who’s that?” since my knowledge of British actors is pretty limited. By the way, Doctor Who is huge in America and other countries, but it has always been and always should be a British show with a British actor at the forefront. On the other hand, if they’re looking for any American writers…

Anyway, when the regeneration happens on screen and Matt Smith’s bowtied #11 fades away and I get my first glimpse of the new Doctor in action, my reaction will probably be, “Well, no way he’ll ever be good as Matt Smith.” But I’ll get over it. I always do.

That’s how the Doctor would want it.

Goodbye, Matt Smith.


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