After Matt Smith’s first year in the titular role of Doctor Who (a very good one at that, in my opinion), there were rumors that, like Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston, he might be leaving the show just a series after he started. Various reasons were given, including Smith’s desire to move to America and focus on films, or that ratings for “The Big Bang,” were bad enough to send him packing.
Steven Moffat, Doctor Who‘s current showrunner, has dismissed those rumors. The question of a regeneration was posed to him by BBC News after Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of Moffat’s miniseries Sherlock, didn’t deny an inquiry of whether or not he would be the Doctor in his upcoming recurring role in the series. “Maybe,” Cumberbatch replied simply, and the rumor mill began to churn.
Moffat has decided to put a stop to the rumors of Cumberbatch — or anyone — replacing Smith. “There is no vacancy,” Moffat stated, putting at ease the minds of Smith fans everywhere. “Matt Smith is the Doctor and he’s been an astonishing success and – who knows – maybe he’ll never regenerate again.”
While of course the quotation that “maybe he’ll never regenerate again” translates to “he won’t regenerate for a few years,” it’s still nice to see that bit of reassurance coming straight from the horse’s mouth. Smith has been my favorite Doctor since Eccleston in 2005, and is the latest in a stream of great actors to portray the time-travelling alien.
Within the continuity of the series, the Doctor can only have thirteen incarnations, and Smith is the Eleventh. While it seems likely that the story will find some way around this, regenerating the Doctor so soon seems like a self-destruction just waiting to happen.
Doctor Who will return in December with a Christmas special (starring Smith alongside companions Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill), and then again next spring with a sixth series.