Matt Smith is leaving ‘Doctor Who’ at the end of 2013

June 01, 2013 | 5:35 p.m.
doctorwho Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who at the end of 2013

"Doctor Who" has clocked more than 50 years, transporting fans through time and space on remarkable adventures. Here's a look back at the Time Lord's regenerations over the years. (BBC)

7 Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who at the end of 2013

Sylvester McCoy played the Seventh Doctor from 1987 until the show's cancellation in 1989.

11 Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who at the end of 2013

Matt Smith has played the Eleventh Doctor -- the Time Lord's current incarnation -- since 2010. (BBC)

Matt Smith is leaving “Doctor Who” after four years of portraying the time-traveling hero on the long-running British sci-fi adventure series.

Smith, the 11th actor to portray the wandering Time Lord from Gallifrey, will leave the role following the show’s 50th anniversary special in November, BBC announced Saturday. The character will regenerate in the Christmas special.

“‘Doctor Who’ has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke,” Smith said in a news release. “I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years.”

Although Smith’s fans will be sad to see him go, it’s the show’s ability to continue transforming itself over time that has helped it remain fresh and compelling for multiple generations of viewers.

GRAPHIC: Meet the 11 Doctors

“The beauty of ‘Doctor Who’ is its incredible flexibility, anchored by this iconic simplicity,” executive producer Steven Moffat told Hero Complex earlier this year. “All the things that work against a show’s longevity work for us. If people get tired of the Doctor, he regenerates. We bring in new companions before anyone can get bored. We can do any sort of episode we want anywhere we want in space and time.”

"Doctor Who": The 11 regenerations of the Doctor include William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith. (BBC)

“Doctor Who”: The 11 regenerations of the Doctor include William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith. (BBC)

Smith first stepped into the TARDIS in 2010, taking over from 10th Doctor actor David Tennant and introducing Whovians to a protagonist who seemed to viewers as much a fairy tale character as a superhero. Nicknamed “raggedy man” by his first traveling companion, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Smith’s mop-haired Doctor loved unraveling complicated puzzles of time and space, eating fish fingers and custard, and insisting, despite raised eyebrows from his accomplices, that “bow ties are cool.”

“Every day, on every episode, in every set of rushes, Matt Smith surprised me,” Moffat said. “The way he’d turn a line, or spin on his heels, or make something funny, or out of nowhere make me cry, I just never knew what was coming next. The Doctor can be clown and hero, often at the same time, and Matt rose to both challenges magnificently. And even better than that, given the pressures of this extraordinary show, he is one of the nicest and hardest-working people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Whatever we threw at him — sometimes literally — his behavior was always worthy of the Doctor.”

ESSAY: A love letter to ‘Doctor Who’

Smith acted alongside Gillan, a plucky redhead and the Doctor’s best friend, along with her husband, Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), and the Doctor’s lady love, River Song (Alex Kingston). Jenna-Louise Coleman Coleman replaced Gillan and Darvill beginning in the 2012 Christmas special, playing “impossible girl” Clara Oswald, whose unlikely existence baffled the Doctor during the latter half of the season. Increasingly throughout Smith’s tenure, the show shifted its focus from one-off adventures to the Doctor himself and the relationships he shares with his traveling companions.

“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,'” Smith said.

Rory, Amy and The Doctor find themselves aboard a pirate ship in the episode "The Curse of the Black Spot." (BBC)

Rory, Amy and the Doctor find themselves aboard a pirate ship in the episode “The Curse of the Black Spot.” (BBC)

Smith’s run has been accompanied by growing popularity this side of the Atlantic; “Doctor Who” is nothing short of an institution in the U.K., but until recent years has garnered only a cult following in the States. Now, American fans gather en masse at conventions, and pint-sized Whovians don “Doctor Who” costumes to go trick-or-treating each Halloween. The show is BBC America’s highest-rated series, drawing more than 2 million viewers for its mid-season premiere in March.

QUIZ: Test your smarts as the Doctor turns 50

“The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other,” Smith said. “They dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I’ve never seen before.”

Speculation, indeed. Although BBC has not announced who will portray the Doctor’s next regeneration, many fans are chattering online about John Hurt’s appearance in the season finale’s cliffhanger ending this May. After the Doctor and Clara discover the Doctor’s grave in the fields of Trenzalore, the pair meet Hurt’s character, introduced as “The Doctor.” Fans are speculating that Hurt’s character might be a previous iteration, a future iteration or an alternate-timeline version of the time traveler, or else another character altogether; it wouldn’t be the first time the show’s writers threw viewers a curve ball.

Matt Smith has played the Eleventh Doctor -- the Time Lord's current incarnation -- since 2010. (BBC)

Matt Smith has played the Eleventh Doctor — the Time Lord’s current incarnation — since 2010. (BBC)

BBC has not announced who will play the next Doctor, and it would appear from Moffat’s statement that the network might still be casting.

“This isn’t the end of the story, because now the search begins,” Moffat said. “Somewhere out there right now — all unknowing, just going about their business — is someone who’s about to become the Doctor. A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again!”

Meanwhile, Smith is acting alongside Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan and Eva Medes in the Ryan Gosling-directed fantasy thriller “How to Catch a Monster,” slated for a 2014 release, not to mention appearing in November’s “Doctor Who” 50th anniversary special and the Christmas special in December.

“Great actors always know when it’s time for the curtain call, so this Christmas prepare for your hearts to break, as we say goodbye to number Eleven,” Moffat said. “Thank you Matt – bow ties were never cooler.”

— Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark


"Doctor Who" actress Jenna-Louise Coleman is photographed in the Los Angeles Times studio in March 2013. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)‘Who’: Jenna-Louise Coleman is right in time

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43 Responses to Matt Smith is leaving ‘Doctor Who’ at the end of 2013

  1. jake says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO i can't belive mat is leaving!!

  2. jwillis84 says:

    Who could be better than [ John Hurt ]?

    A. He's a more mature, and traveled Doctor who could bring a sense of gravity to the role.
    B. We could explore realms of drama not seen since Series One.
    C. He'd both give the companions more to do and underestimate, than a younger actor.

    In all ways he would turn the role in a new direction and open up new story ideas.

    • Andrew says:

      Totally agree with all your points, but B is the most exciting. Matt Smith brings with him no "realms of drama."

    • Michael says:

      Hurt is a tremendous actor and could be a good choice for a very short time. But he brings lots of other characters to the screen, something that would distract many of us. The next doctor, like the previous set, should be a relative unknown. It's about time we had a female doctor!

  3. Edward says:

    About time for a female doctor who…

  4. Dan says:

    Not a fan of john hurt, but if we finally get to see the time war, it would be worth it.

    • Keni says:

      Who doesn't love John Hurt? For all of his ten minutes on the screen his Garrick Ollivander is still my favorite character from all eight Harry Potter movies. And Scandal, A Man for All Seasons, I, Claudius, and on and on…

  5. peter says:

    even though john hurt would make a good doctot who, i say go with an american male actor so we the viewers will be guessing what will happen next or what will be said next

  6. peter connellis says:

    how about an episode where the doctor surprises jenna-louise colemans’ character to her american cousin and his/her cousins family.

  7. marylea sunshine says:

    Noooooooo! Say it isn’t so! I love this doctor and am going to cry buckets when he dies. Noooooooo!

  8. Morgus says:

    It's time for the Doctor to return to his original roots,an older more mature Doctor. Also the partner thing was becoming fem centric and like a soap opera.

  9. DeWhiteknight says:

    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, but all is well that ends well, give us a great Christmas special

  10. dawn j says:

    It might be interesting to see a woman Dr.Who but it would be strange.I hate to see Matt go but we all knew it would happen someday.I am just wondering what happens after the last doctor dies,will they stop the series OR find a way to keep it going?

  11. Kathie says:

    Very not happy….LOVED this Doctor. He is funny, witty, clever, brilliant, all the things the Doctor should be with some special quirkiness thrown in. SO so sad….

  12. Clive says:

    "About time for a female doctor who… "

    Yes, if you want to make nonsense of fifty years of plot-line.

    • Cody says:

      You do Understand than timelord can change from male to female…… "he was this guy and that and and a girl eww was he a dirty dirty girl" cant remember who said it but it was said in last season i belive

  13. @trishf42 says:

    +1 to the notion of a female doctor – or even gender-neutral. The Doctor's an alien, after all…

  14. Bob says:

    Didn’t he just start playing The Doctor? They’re going to run out soon at this rate. The Doctor only gets 13 lives and then they have to make up some silly explanation for a 14th, 15th, and so on.

    • RMoriyama says:

      Way back when, I think they said that a Time Lord only had SEVEN regenerations… I'm not sure if they ever explained how that number changed.

    • Deb says:

      I read somewhere awhile back that per the "canon" the time lord's regen count was reset during the time war–meaning there can be up to 9 more regens left (John Hurt is going to become the new #9). Also River may have given him more when she used hers all up in "Let's Kill Hitler." I think we have more than a few Doctors left.

  15. Andrew says:

    Good riddance. When Matt Smith came on board, my interest in Doctor Who nearly evaporated. Man, this is the best news I've heard about a beloved series in a very, very long time. Unward and upward. Better times ahead!

    • REVA says:

      Nonsense. I have seen every Dr Who, from the beginning, in several parts of the world, and been watching for the full 50 years. He has actually been a relief, with witticism, and the writers did a bang up job with his "travelers". Hate to see him go so soon. Yes, it seems like we just get used to one doctor, when he is changed again (no – not "GONE").

  16. guest says:

    The rule, I thought, was that the Doctor gets younger with each regeneration. John Hurt will not fit that bill. A female one would be a fun novelty, but I'm not sure the die-hard fans would accept her. Let's not tinker with the recipe too much, or no one will watch.

    • Cody says:

      Thats the whole point of the regin to change things to stop people from getting bored you never know what will come next, a female doctor would be a big refresher lol also john hart will not be the next doctor there going to go back and tell and older story about who he was before he took on the name "the Doctor" at least thats what i am lead to belive,

  17. Stan says:

    Hopefully they will take the show back to its roots rather than in the direction the travesty that the last 3 Doctors have been.

  18. mick burke says:

    John Hurt has my fecking vote….John just fits the part as soon as one gives it a minute of thought. The show will be for the better, even if John plays the Doctor for only a short time.

  19. J-Guy says:

    I remember the finale, John Hurt was supposed to be a version of the Doctor who betrayed everything the character normally stands for. Maybe he and the REAL 12th Doctor will be butting heads til the series finale, wherein we FINALLY know the Doctors true name.

  20. bryanag90 says:

    Spoilers in the headline, sweetie….

  21. zornwil says:

    Helen Mirren for Dr. Who!

  22. Shannon says:

    John Hurt will be coming back I believe as the doctor but not yet it’s too early!

  23. Steve Davis says:

    Looking at the pictures above of the doctors it states;;The 11 regenerations of the Doctor include William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith. (BBC


    So If you look at the logical side of the whole Dr who regeneration syndrome the 1st Dr did not regenerate to become the Dr, he was born. So 1st Generation he becomes No 2, 2nd gen becomes No 3 and so on.
    So Mat Smith's departure will be the Dr's 10th regeneration but the 12th Drs appearance.
    So on a seemingly stupid note, why has Peter Cushion not had a mention as being the Doctor, he played the Dr in Two movies in the sixties.

    • Deb says:

      The Peter Cushing movies are not "canon." He was not a time lord and never regenerated-he was human if you read those story lines.

  24. Steve Davis says:


  25. Basit says:

    trust me the first two series that matt did weren't that good, there wasn't any crying emotions in them but in series 7 the way matt acted in "THE NAME OF THE DOCTOR" was just amazing, so I am sad that he is leaving, I had just got used to him.

  26. TulsaOK Botie Lawyr says:

    Could Benedict Cumberbatch be considered as number 12?

  27. Deb says:

    "MY doctor" is, and always will be, David Tennant. I did not really think Will was that great as the doctor for his first two seasons, he was more clown than doctor-he just lacked the intensity. The last year or so however, he has "matured" into the role, and seems to play the character a bit differently–I like him, but am also ready to see the "next" doctor.

  28. Skylar says:

    Adding a women would ruin the identity of the Doctor. So many fans would be lost I don't even see why that is a possibility. As for the change in actors that is inevitable with the doctor its been changing since the 60's. NO WOMEN SHOULD PLAY THE DOCTOR. It would ruin like every flashback the doctor could have in the show as well. already weird to see a different face in a flash back like on the first episode with matt smith. But to change the doctors gender is crazy and dumb!

  29. Suz says:

    I almost cried when David Tennant's Doctor left. I've just gotten used to Matt Smith, who I didn't like so much at first. He matured into the role, and now I'm really sad to see him go. I hope the new Doctor will live up to outer expectations! This is my fav show!! And, for the record, please do NOT put a woman in the role of the Doctor, as some have suggested. It just wouldn't work for me.

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