We all know the story. As soon as the current Doctor announces he’s leaving Doctor Who, the speculation over his replacement starts up, and when a new actor is finally selected to play the role, the conversation immediately turns to how long he’ll stay. It’s the one question that will inevitably get asked sooner rather than later, and it’ll get asked over and over and over and over again.
Frankly, it’s boring and tiresome, with the same boring, tiresome, cagey responses. I just really, really, really wish that we could all move on from this fascination with how long an actor will play the Doctor, and focus on the here and now.
All good things
The truth is that Matt Smith will eventually follow in the footsteps of each of his predecessors, and stop playing the Doctor on television. Even Matt himself acknowledges in recent comments that “all good things come to an end. The show is the star and will continue without me” (emphasis added). This hasn’t been news probably since about episode two of The Power of the Daleks, when viewers had all but forgotten William Hartnell—by then, Patrick Troughton had already become the Doctor in everyone’s minds.
Focusing on how long Matt Smith (or anyone who follows him) will play the Doctor on TV robs us of some of the enjoyment that comes with simply appreciating all the awesome things that are happening—and have been happening since Doctor Who came back in 2005—right now.
Because the other truth is, it won’t last forever. There will come a day when the announcement is made (again) that Doctor Who won’t be coming back to our screens. I hope that day is a long time in the future, but it is coming, and for anyone who loves this show about a mad man with a box, it will be a truly lamentable one. Why not take it one day at a time, and enjoy while it lasts?
The great thing is that even though an actor may move on to other projects and commitments after their time on the show, they never truly leave the Doctor behind. William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith are the Doctor—and they always will be. (And, incidentally, Tom, Peter, Colin, Sylvester, and Paul are each still portraying their respective Doctors today—even Jon Pertwee once made a cameo appearance from beyond the grave.)
But the Doctor is more than the actor who plays him on TV, and old Doctors never truly die. Matt Smith may play the Doctor on TV for another year or another ten, but the
Eleventh Doctor himself isn’t going anywhere.
Agree? Disagree? Please let us know what you think in the comments.
Daniel is the owner and Managing Editor of Time and The – !. He's been a fan of Doctor Who since watching Tom Baker regenerate into Peter Davison on his local PBS station as a kid. He launched Time and The – ! in 2011 after having the bright (?) idea to watch every Doctor Who story from the beginning and blog about it. (Yeah, he's way behind.)