[UPDATE] – added press release and publicity photos below original story.
As announced on today’s Doctor Who Confidential – The Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith has been cast to take over as the Doctor when David Tennant leaves in early 2010. This is definitely a surprise as he wasn’t even rumored until a day or two ago. Definitely out-of-the-blue casting. Major kudos to the production team for keeping this a secret! Smith is in the upcoming Moses Jones, and has previously appeared in Party Animals, Secret Diary of a Call Girl and The Ruby in the Smoke. The latter two shows also starred former Doctor Who actress Billie Piper.
[UPDATE] – For more about Matt Smith, check out our article here.
Smith is the eleventh actor to take over on the regular series, although several other actors have played the Time-Lord in a variety of other mediums, including a replacement for William Hartnell (the originator of the character) for the show’s twentieth anniversary multi-Doctor TV episode in 1983. It’s expected we will see Tennant’s tenth Doctor regenerate into Smith in the former’s final on-screen appearance, a special tentatively scheduled for Easter 2010. A few weeks after that will be the start of the fifth series since the show’s return with Smith firmly in the lead.
This article will be updated throughout the weekend as more details come to light, including the official press release. For now, I am not sure what to think as I have yet to see anything Smith has been in. I am disappointed that my first two choices didn’t make the cut, but I’m willing to give Smith a chance and see what he brings to the role. Please share your comments below or in our official eleventh Doctor thread in our forums.
Here’s the Press Release from the BBC:
The BBC today announced that Matt Smith has been cast in the role of the Doctor in the iconic BBC series Doctor Who.
Smith will be the 11th Time Lord and will take over from David Tennant who leaves the show at the end of 2009. He will be seen in the forthcoming fifth series that will be broadcast in 2010.
The fifth series will also have a new lead writer and Executive Producer in the form of the BAFTA award-winning writer Steven Moffat, who is taking over from Russell T Davies.
Moffat will be joined by Piers Wenger, who will be the new Executive Producer for BBC Wales making the show.
Following David Tennant’s decision to step down at the end of 2009, the team behind the new series set about casting the new Doctor so that new adventures could be created and scripts written with Matt in mind.
The identity of the new Doctor was revealed on a special edition of Doctor Who Confidential that was broadcast on BBC One today (3 January) at 5.35pm (17.35 GMT).
In it Smith revealed his initial reaction at taking on such a legendary role and his thoughts on what direction the Doctor might now be going with him playing the part.
Matt Smith said of his new role: “I’m just so excited about the journey that is in front of me. It’s a wonderful privilege and challenge that I hope I will thrive on.
“I feel proud and honoured to have been given this opportunity to join a team of people that has worked so tirelessly to make the show so thrilling.
“David Tennant has made the role his own, brilliantly, with grace, talent and persistent dedication. I hope to learn from the standards set by him.
“The challenge for me is to do justice to the show’s illustrious past, my predecessors, and most importantly, to those who watch it. I really cannot wait.”
Lead writer and Executive Producer Steven Moffat said: “The Doctor is a very special part, and it takes a very special actor to play him. You need to be old and young at the same time, a boffin and an action hero, a cheeky schoolboy and the wise old man of the universe.
“As soon as Matt walked through the door, and blew us away with a bold and brand new take on the Time Lord, we knew we had our man.
“2010 is a long time away but rest assured the 11th Doctor is coming – and the universe has never been so safe.”
Piers Wenger, Head Of Drama, BBC Wales, added: “With two hearts, a ferocious mind and over 900 years of experience behind him, it’s not every 26 year old actor who can take on a role like the Doctor but within moments of meeting Matt he showed the skill and imagination needed to create a Doctor all of his own.
“It’s just the beginning of the journey for Matt but with Steven Moffat’s scripts and the expertise of the production team in Cardiff behind him, there is no one more perfect than him to be taking the TARDIS to exciting new futures when the series returns in 2010.”
Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama, added: “I am delighted to see Matt take on this iconic role. It will see him continuing his relationship with the BBC following his performances in Ruby In The Smoke and Party Animals, and his upcoming role in Moses Jones.
“The combination of Matt, Steven and Piers will, I know, take Doctor Who onto new and even dizzier heights.”
Jay Hunt, Controller, BBC One, said: “Matt Smith will be a mesmerising 11th Time Lord, true to the spirit of the show.
“He is a worthy successor to David Tennant who has been utterly remarkable in the role and promises to continue to be in next year’s four special episodes.”
Doctor Who Confidential – The Eleventh Doctor can be seen on BBC iPlayer until 10 January 2009.
There will be four Doctor Who specials featuring David Tennant that will run in 2009 into New Year 2010 (dates to be confirmed).