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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Who Will Be The Next Doctor?, Part 1


[source: Facebook]
On Friday, June 1st, 2013, Matt Smith, announced that he would be stepping down from the titular role in BBC's popular sci-fi  show Doctor Who. This was a great disappointment to the fandom as Smith's portrayal of the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor had endeared him in the hearts of many since he took over the role after Tenth Doctor David Tennant left the series in 2010. Despite rumors that Smith had intentions of leaving the show, his announcement came as a surprise to many—probably because an August 2012 interview with the Sun, in which Smith stated that he would remain in the role until "at least 2014" was taken by some to mean the "through" the 2014 season. Smith has only two episodes left: the November 23rd 50th Anniversary Special and the 2013 Christmas Special, in which the BBC confirm that the Eleventh Doctor will regeneration into the twelfth incarnation.

That being said, almost immediately after the announcement of Smith departure, the Interweb exploded  with speculations and suggestions as to who is worthy to take up the role of Twelfth Doctor. Online bookies like SkyBet and William Hill are already offering odds on who will be the next Doctor with Law & Order: UK's Ben Daniels as top favorite. Fans the world over have their fantasy list of potential Doctors that include Harry Potter stars; potential first female Doctor, first black Doctor, and first previous Doctor to return; and Benedict Cumberbatch. Even news outlets are picking favorites. Most of these lists border on absurd, however, and I must agree with Dustin Rowles, who in his article on realistic candidates to replace Matt Smith, points out that, for various reasons like casting precedence and ability to dedicate themselves to the show, the next Doctor will need to be a relative unknown. So, no Daniel Radcliffe, no Cumberbatch, no Johnny Depp.

But where is the fun in speculations if they weren't unsupportable and bat-shit off the wall? So, in honor of the folk who really, really, REALLY would crap themselves if Harry Potter or Sherlock Holmes got the role, I present to you my theories on who will be the next Doctor. In today's post, I will present you with my Limited American Knowledge of British Actors list of who I think should and/or will be Twelfth Doctor. Later this week, I'll post Part Two in which, I find reasons why everyone else is wrong.


Hugh Laurie
Of late, casting for the Doctor generally trends progressively younger and towards relatively unknown actors on the rise, and for the most part, unknown to Americans. But there is a good chance that the powers-that-be might to go against these trends. Forget about Tom Hiddleston and Idris Elba and their like! They're all too busy with Hollywood right now and run the risk of not being fully committed to the show.

If casting directors and show producer were to decide that the Twelfth Doctor will be an older actor with a existing fan base, my fantasy vote will have to go to Doctor Gregory House himself, Hugh Laurie. He has proven himself as a talented comedian and character actor with his roles in Blackadder, Jeeves and Wooster, and the aforementioned House, just to name a few. Except for his recent Jazz career and a role as the antagonist in Disney's upcoming movie adaptation of theme park ride Tomorrowland, Laurie doesn't have much else on his plate.

On the downside, his fan base could be his biggest stumbling block. With House as his most recent and better known role, there is a risk that many will be turned off by the fact that his new role as the Twelfth Doctor will not sound or act like the Gregory House, MD. However, I do see this being more of an issue with American viewer and hardcore House fans.

I picture his Twelfth Doctor as a cross between the action hero type of the Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor, the manipulativeness of Sylvester McCoy's 7th Doctor, and the broodiness of Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor with the comedy for which Laurie is known thrown in for safe measure.

Doctor Who and the Harry Potter franchise have shared many actors over the years,  most prominent of which was Tenth Doctor David Tennant who played Barty Crouch, Jr. in Prisoner of Azkaban.

[Source: IMBD]
If we are going to get another Potter alum to play the lead role in Doctor Who, my pick would have to be Matthew Lewis, aka Neville Longbottom. He continues to be less well known than the three Potter leads but viewers will still recognize his face and pedigree.  Both Lewis and Rupert Grint aren't as high-in-demand as Emma Watson or Daniel Radcliffe, but I think Lewis is more likely to dedicate time and attention to the role than Grint and Doctor Who fans will have to worry less about whether or not Grint will leave as soon as Hollywood comes knocking again. Lewis has proven himself in his role as Longbottom and like his three former cast mates, has grown up to be quite the looker. Unlike his cast mate, he hasn't reached that sex symbol status that will distract from the role.

I imagine Lewis's Doctor as being the geeky, book worm type similar to the scholar and archeologist type we see in Michael Shanks's Daniel Jackson in Stargate: SG1. He will be less the cosmic five year old that was Smith Eleventh Doctor and more the fun-loving, time-tourist that we saw in David Tennant's time in the role.

John Hurt
Speaking of Harry Potter alums taking on the lead role: let's not forget that Series 7 ended with a cliff hanger introduction of veteran actor John Hurt as "The Doctor." In case you missed it, Hurt played the wandmaker Olivander in the Potter movies.

Although, John Hurt's incarnation number has yet to be revealed, there is a very good chance that we have already been introduced as Matt Smith's replacement. Filming on the Christmas episode will begin soon and the BBC has also stated that Smith replacement would be (officially?) announced sometime in July as they fear that they would not be able to keep the secret from leaking during filming. Let's not forget that current companion Clara Oswald (played by Jenna-Louis Coleman) appeared in the Series 7 premier and in last year's Christmas Special before she officially replaced then companions Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and Amelia Pond (Karen Gillan). Her appearances also allowed the audience to get used to Clara's presence in anticipation of Darvill's and Gillan's departures from the show. So, who's to say the same is not being done in John Hurt's case?

The biggest issue here is that until John Hurt's incarnation number is officially revealed during the 50th Anniversary Special, we won't know for sure. So, we can't even be sure if he really even counts. The problem is that this incarnation could be one of many things. Without getting down to the finer fandom details or spoiling too much of the season finale for those who are waiting for it to come on Netflix, here are a few of the possibilities:

  1. The prevailing theory is that this is actually the real Ninth Doctor, making Eccelston's 9th, Tennant's 10th, and Smith's 11th in reality the 10th, 11th, and 12th respectively. This is a very controversial piece of RetCon and would mean that the next Doctor will actually be the thirteenth and final incarnation as Time Lords are only allowed thirteen lives. Unless, of course, the writers find a way around this piece of show canon. (They can, by the way. It's been done before by other Time Lords.)
  2. However, with time-travel and nature of time being rewritable, this Doctor could be a negated incarnation and technically doesn't count anymore. So…all is well, no RetCon, no changes in numbers. Move along.
  3. Negate or not, this could be but one possible future Doctor, whether he is the Twelfth or the Thirteenth, or the 26th. We shall find out in November.
  4. The other possibility is that this "Doctor" is actually the Valeyard, a character from Colin Baker's run as the Sixth Doctor and the chief antagonist during the season long "Trial of a Time Lord" story arc. Described as an amalgamation of the darker sides of [the Doctor's] nature, somewhere between [his] twelfth and final incarnation," this Doctor was created by corrupt Time Lords to prosecute the Doctor and put him to death. As a reward, the Time Lords would have given the Valeyard the Doctor's remain regenerations.
Decide for yourselves. Check out the final scene from the Series 7 finale "Name of the Doctor."

Matt Smith
Wait! What? Follow me here for a minute.

Let's assume that John Hurt will be stepping into the role of the Twelfth Doctor. Now, we can safely assume that the Doctor has adventures in between episode and in between seasons. There is a plethora of spin-off media adventures in the form of books, graphic novels, and audio adventures to stand in as evidence. Of these adventure in and out and in between episodes and spin-off medias, several involve the Doctor, in his different incarnations, having adventures with himself in different incarnations. Cases in point here, here, and here. Who is to say that John Hurt's Twelfth Doctor was not in one of these adventures in-between episode?

Still with me?

Okay. Now with the revelation of John Hurt's Doctor, events are set into motion that leads to Eleventh's demise. With John Hurt's Twelfth at the helm of the TARDIS and will all indication that his existence will lead to terrible, terrible consequences, events are then sent into motion to negate the regeneration.

So. It's all a fake out. We'll have a season of John Hurt's Doctor who will then be negated back to Matt Smith. The Series 3 season finale and the entire Series 5 season proves that events can be rewritten and negated. Smith leaves, does his thing, and comes back after the worst idea for a season ever! YEAH!


Well, those are my theories as to who might be playing the next Doctor. As I've said, I wanted this list to be as unfounded as possible and to be pretty unlikely. Honestly, looking back to when Matt Smith was announced as the next Doctor, everyone wondered who he was. He came almost out of nowhere as the youngest Doctor yet and with a relatively short résumé. The same could be said of David Tennant to a certain degree. I would not be surprised if, just like last time, the speculations run rampant and then we are blindside by the selection of a relative nobody. 

So. Who's your list? 

Next time, in part 2, I will try and shoot down some of everyone else's favorite off the wall candidates for the next Doctor.