The new Doctor Who!

By Phil Plait | January 3, 2009 11:20 am



I’m not screwing around here. If you like the show, but are clueless over what’s coming up, then go away. Anywhere but here. Really, even go read PZ’s blog. That’s how serious I am.

OK, we clear here?


David Tennant is leaving Doctor Who at the end of Series/Season 5. As with every time this has happened, the Doctor (we assume) will regenerate, and be played by a new actor.

And that new actor is…

Matt Smith!

Matt Smith as The Doctor

Yeah, the obvious joke is, who? I’ve never heard of him (not too surprising, as UK actors are relatively unknown in the US). He’s done a handful of British TV shows, but that’s about all we have on him. However, Smith will be the youngest man to play The Doctor in the show’s history; he was born in 1982, making him a solid eleven years younger than Tennant! That should make some waves. Heck, that makes him a month younger than Billie Piper, who played Rose. I wonder what they’ll do for a companion then? Someone older would make for some very funny scenes; they could play off the idea that the companion can’t get over the fact that this young kid is actually a brilliant hero. Since The Doctor sometimes uses the alias of John Smith, that’ll provide some inside jokes as well.

The new Doctor Who: Matt Smith!

So, officially, I have no opinion on this guy. But then, I didn’t know Eccleston or Tennant either. Being a skeptic and all, I will simply wait and see what happens when the first new Who with Smith airs in 2010. Until then, we have a handful more special episodes with Tennant, and then, as they show, the show must go on. Allons-y!

UPDATE: Someone got some footage of the interview with Matt Smith onto YouTube. The BBC may take it down, so watch while you can.

Special thanks to all my Twitter followers who supplied me with up-to-the-moment info!

* OK, look. I know that some Doctor Who fans are avoiding spoilers, and I’ve done my best to make it easy for people to avoid them. But honestly, if you didn’t know David Tennant is leaving the show at the end of the limited run of Series/Season 5, then I can no longer help you! It’s been common knowledge now for a couple of months, so I can’t consider it a spoiler.


Comments (70)

  1. I’m excited but nervous. We’ll see how he does! I was so sad when Eccleston left, though, and we got The Man Tennant – so I trust them on this, though not implicitly.

    Bring on The Specials and 2010!

  2. Dave W


    The interview stuff with him didn’t really impress. But the things he’s been in, he’s been alright in. But have some faith in the Gran Moff Steven, as he appeared to feel like he’s picked the right person.

    We now have to wait till Easter 2010 for the regeneration…I think it would’ve been better to wait until then to reveal him anyway

  3. At this rate, the 13th incarnation will be a pre-teen…

    But hey, I’m willing to give the new guy a chance. If they say he’s got the right stuff, well, the proof will be in the pudding… in a year and some-odd.

  4. Nomen Publicus

    Matt has been in a number of critically approved UK TV series such as “Party Animals” and “The Ruby” (in which Billie Piper also appeared.)

    So, he can act.

    The question is, can he use a sonic screwdriver like a pro?

  5. Paplikaplik

    This is funny considering a comment Steven Moffett made at the Doctor Who Comic-Con panel in response to an observation of how the Doctors seem to get younger with each regeneration. He said something to the effect that when someone is young, they like to try to appear older than they are, but as they age they tend to want to be more youthful.

    When they announced Tennant was leaving, I wondered if they’d make the next Who younger than Tennant and it looks like they did. Of course, that would mean the next regeneration would make him a teenager and they’d have to rename the show The Curious Case of Doctor Who.

  6. Charles Boyer


    Your idea of a Cougar Companion for the Doctor is an interesting one, to say the least. It would be something of a nod to the current social order, at any rate.

    It’s too bad Joanna Lumley of “Absolutely Fabulous” fame is 62 and probably too old to play the role. The comedic opportunities for a drunken, cigarette smoking smart-aleck companion would be awesome.

    I kid, I kid. I just took it to the extreme.

  7. I am now older than the actors they pick for Doctor Who. Something seems horribly wrong with that.

  8. davidlpf

    I told the doctors have been getting younger looking.

  9. davidlpf

    suppose to see “I told you”

  10. That Neil Guy

    I don’t care for his Flock of Seagulls haircut. And he looks like he’s about twelve.

    You kids get off my lawn.

  11. He’s a product of the National Youth Theatre, and has been succesful in theatre roles… I think he’s very ‘promising’…

    I’m older than any of the bloody cast…

  12. He looks foppish, posh, and a complete wet blanket. I are not amuzed.

    (why why why, when you could have the Marquis de Carabas…..?)

    But like you say, I guess we need to give him a shot. I’ll be watching regardless of my whinging!

  13. Ragutis

    Hmmmm… Might take some getting used to, but for now I’ll trust Moffat’s judgment and not lose any sleep over it. Admittedly, I would have liked an older Doctor. The Doctor has a universe’s weight on his shoulders. I hope this guy can show that and make it look like gravitas rather than emo brooding..

    It’ll probably make Captain Jack squee, though.

    As for announcing it this early, I figure it was to make sure there’s no leaks. Better to be a little early, but maximise and control the publicity than have it dribble out in set reports and cameraphone pics on fan forums.

  14. LSandman24

    I was born in ’82…

    I coulda been the Doctor.

    I coulda been a contender.

    But I don’t think they’d go for the New England accent

    @Charles Boyer- too funny, man. Too funny.

  15. I’ll give the BBC this much: at least “Matt Smith” is a hell of a lot easier to pronounce than “Chiwetel Ejiofor.”

  16. ABR.

    He’s Jim Taylor from the Sally Lockhart series! I thought I recognized him. He was fun in the two movies, which I watched, naturally, because they starred one Billie Piper.

  17. tripencrypt

    @ That Neil Guy “…that Flock of Seagulls haircut.” Hilarious!

  18. In related news, I just had myself a Survivors marathon last night. What a great show! I still think Patterson Joseph would have made a great Doctor, but I’m totally smitten with Nikki Amuka-Bird. I just want to see her in everything, ever, from here on out.

  19. Isernbreegen

    I’m really really looking forward to the Eleventh Doctor. He’s probably the exact opposite of what everybody has been expecting and for that alone I’m pretty sure he will be awesome. Trust the Moff, he knows what he’s doing.

    Still gonna miss the Tenth Doctor so much :(

  20. huh… interesting pick. I’ve never heard of the guy either… we’ll have to see how the young’un deals with the whole time travel thing…

  21. One Eyed Jack

    I’m confused. Was that a promo for Look Who’s Talking III?

  22. anevilmeme

    Great, so now when the Doctor goes into a bar he’ll get carded. In a weird way I was hoping Moffett would slip Richard Coyle from Coupling into the role.

  23. If you use a UK based proxy (just google “uk proky”), you can get the BBC iPlayer and watch the special. I didn’t think it was much good though.

  24. moopet

    That interview wasn’t good. True, he could be a great actor (I’ve never seen him act) but he comes across as a kid who doesn’t know much about the world or how to express himself, and I hope that doesn’t stop him playing a character who’s supposed to be the opposite.

    I would have voted for Richard Ayoade.

  25. Felix

    I’m in the UK and I’ve never heard of the guy.

    Personally I am disappointed that they didn’t go for a woman.

    Christopher Eccleston really got me back in Dr who, David Tennant I can take or leave.
    I don’t think this guy is going to do it for me.

  26. I think the trend towards younger and younger Doctors has become a bit predictable by now, and should be broken up by casting an older actor in the role occasionally.

    @ Charles Boyer : You have seen Curse of Fatal Death, right?

  27. glittachris

    I hope they made the right decision. I was hoping for Patterson Joseph. I don’t know about this guy. I’m not very impressed from the interview. He looks more like he should be Clyde and Luke’s new friend on the Sarah Jane Adventures, not the new Doctor. I was hoping for someone older. I don’t want the doctor to be a teen heart throb.
    I really like Moffett as a writer, he’s written some of the shows best episodes, so hopefullt he’s got good judgement in casting. There are going to be a lot of changes with Davies stepping down, Moffett taking over, and a new doctor. I think they went for a “safe” choice, not a good choice. He’s young, he’s white, he could pass as David Tennant’s younger brother. He’s not going to alienate to many people.

  28. Kel

    He reminds me a lot of Daniel Radcliffe – his mannerisms and such in the interview. Probably just because he’s so excited, and Daniel Radcliffe always comes across as being so excited and exuberant about everything.
    I can’t wait to see what he does with the role.

  29. Charles Boyer

    Adrian — that’s Stephen Moffat’s first script and a parody if memory serves. I am more of a ST, BSG, and Babylon 5 moreso than Doctor Who fan.

    While I very much enjoy watching DW, I am honestly far more excited about this Friday’s premiere of the final episodes of BSG than the new doctor.

    That’s no attempt to run down DW by any means. It’s a great show. The shows I named above just resonate with me personally a little better.

  30. Charles – it’s a good parody. I mentioned it because Joanna Lumley plays the final incarnation of the Doctor.

  31. I think Matt was way more manic than Daniel, at least in that interview on YouTube.

    While I had a huge “WTF” moment when I first saw who Matt Smith was, I frankly thought the YouTube interview was reassuring. Yeah, I would have preferred someone older or not quite so white. Still, I’ll try to trust Moffatt and hopefully all will be well.

    BTW, we’ve had a quasi-cougar season already – Catherine Tate is about three years older than David Tennent. Would be neat to see someone like, well, Emma Thompson as the next companion?

  32. Fizzle

    @Adrian Morgan
    Actually they haven’t been getting younger and younger it’s gone like this, younger, same, younger, younger, older, same, younger, same, same, younger.

  33. Charles Boyer

    Adrian, absolutely it was a good parody. Wish I had it on video, and I had forgotten that it was Ms. Lumley in that.

    It’s too bad shows like Star Trek never could make fun of themselves the same way.

  34. GaterNate

    Could someone direct me to a website where a potential DW fan could get some basic info about the show without being spoonfed a big glob of spoiler?

  35. john

    I agree with moopet about the interview. The good news is that if he can act then he doesn’t need to be able to express deep thoughts. I hope that the directors are able to guide him if he needs it.

    No matter how well he acts, it won’t matter if the stories don’t support him. I’m just hoping that Moffett makes the adjustment from writing the occasional well-crafted script to organizing the whole season and choosing actors. No one here has mentioned the Peter Principle.

    Still, I’m cautiously optimistic. We’re certainly less worried than the folks who wondered what Patrick Troughton would do to William Hartnell’s role!

  36. GaterNate

    All I can say is DW must be an amazing show to still have devoted fans after a repeated “changing of the guard”.

  37. Grizzly

    Nate, the changing of the guard is part of the mystique, although, although, I still am a Baker AND Pertwee fan. Old as dirt.

    I had heard some rumours that they were looking to cast Michael York. That would have been… weird.

  38. Charles Boyer

    “No matter how well he acts, it won’t matter if the stories don’t support him.”

    True, and shows jump the shark all of the time. I do have faith in the program though, it has proven its staying power over its many decades of existence.

    That’s why people have stayed devoted to it in the long term, and that’s why it garners new fans with regularity.

  39. GaterNate: Check out the Doctor Who Wikipedia articles. There’s a lot of basic info, and as long as you keep away from the specific episode articles, more-or-less spoiler free:

    Start with:

    Then go deeper if you feel like it. :)

  40. Charles Boyer

    Also, you can get a lot of the old episodes as well as all of the new with a Netflix account. If you have a decent computer, you can stream them to your computer or through your XBOX 360 to your heart’s content.

    Yes, Netflix costs some money for the monthly subscription, but it’s cheaper than renting the DVDs one by one at a local rental shop.

  41. I kind of thought there were some shark-jumping moments in the last season finale. Seriously a bunk of fan-wanking in there, what with **SPOILER WITHHELD** on the beach and the **SPOILER WITHHELD** in the TARDIS. Lame.

  42. CaptXpendable

    I’ll certainly try to give him a chance, but I hope those pics do not represent his new look. Emo Doctor is going to be a hard sell for me.

  43. yumenoko

    Hmm, I guess I’ll also need to wait and see. Hope they do something about that hair (none could be more fab than Tennant’s, though) but he seems lively and affable enough.

    I admit to being prone to superficiality when it comes to my TV shows, and I require that little spark of “um, yeah, I’d tap that” for it leads to really ring with me (both Dave and Chris had that in spades) but so far this guy is not on my “to do” list and don’t see that he ever will be. Like Brad and Tom, some guys that flip the skirts of some girls don’t do anything for me. (Look, I said I was superficial!)

    Let’s hope he can spin the knobs on the Tardis with enough flare to make me see past that.

  44. Davidlpf

    You want him to spin your knobs oh you mean the TARDIS’s.

  45. Damnation! I was kinda hoping Jo Brand the comedienne would get it, perhaps in an alternate universe then……. :-(
    Though from the brief interview, I like this guy, he has that foppish English eccentric quality and a bit bumbling, though not in the Hugh Grant manner. Seems to have a penchant for expressive hands which is good.

  46. His Steveness

    The only problem I have with him is that he seems to similar too Tennant. Each doctor, IMO, should be completely different from his previous incarnation.

    Otherwise, let’s just wait and see.

  47. I would have voted for Richard Ayoade.

    That would have been awesome. Doctor Who as a belligerent shaman obsessed with “the crunch”

  48. lisha

    hey.I’m from the UK and think this guy will be an amazing Doctor! I honesty couldn’t have imagined anyone else doing it as well as he will. x

  49. Joe

    He has a silly face, if you ask me.

  50. Mena

    Well, it will be a lot less creepy when they have the sweet young things drooling over him (anyone else beyond sick of that theme?) but I prefer The Doctor to look a bit older. It gives him more gravitas.

  51. Maria

    I like him (a bit young, but would love to see a Cougarish companion for him hehe), but hate hate hate the hair! That is something that can be fixed, though..

  52. Mom

    I have a really dumb question maybe someone can help me with. I don’t have cable TV so I don’t know what is “currently” going on with Dr. Who. I watch Dr. Who streaming from Netflix.

    Anyway, the question:
    What season is currently showing?

  53. Grand Lunar

    Geez, this guy is younger than me!

    Well, I hope he can fill the shoes of David Tennant.


    AFAIK, Season 4 finished. In the UK, one of the specials aired on Christmas day.
    That’s all I know.

  54. Ah that will be a sad day; Tennant is by far my favorite doctor. I have been a fan of Dr Who since I was a little kid and happen upon it after an old NOVA episode on PBS. I have seen many doctors come and go and even if Mr. Smith brings something wonderfully new and entertaining to the Doctor, Tennant will be missed.

  55. TONCH

    Each new Doctor deserves a chance. However, my worst Doctor (Davison) failed IMO by being too bland and too…dare I say it….young. Perfect for me would have been Peter Bowles (To The Manor Born, Only When I Laugh etc) ie tall, posh and old. I must admit I was quite alarmed when Smith was revealed on the BBC show….reminded me of Frankenstein’s Monster with that square head and black jacket & crew neck!

  56. darth_vincent

    not to pre-judged too harshly… but it appears this series is about to “jump the baby shark” with this choice for the new Dr. Who and what could be obviously worse then they might be following a “Merlin” aging backwards time angle…

    After watching the “Silence in the Library” episode where Prof. River Song mentions to The Doctor that he (as Tenant) is “younger than I’ve ever seen you”. So she has seen him more than once, perhaps in more than one re-incarnation of himself. That leaves me with the impression she won’t be returning with the new young guy… oh wait “Nooooooowwwww, you’re younger than I’ve ever seen you” line is just begging for use.

    Good thing, Tenant is supposed to be in 4 of those special length pre-episodes first… and I’ll watch any episode if Sally Sparrow is the companion to the Dr.

  57. Alice

    Phil –

    I haven’t watched much Dr. Who. Where should I begin? I tried to begin with the stuff in the 60s, and I couldn’t stand it.

    Please advise!

  58. corey fey

    Some people are saying that the interview with the new doctor who was not very impressive i on the other hand saw somethings that impressed me, his movements as well as his answers. His movements are very swift yet very mechanical such as the previous doctors his posture is quite prominent and relaxed such as the doctors and his style of clothing is quite similar to the doctors showing that A. he has quite a connection to the character or B. he has a great PR man/woman. His answers were quite of which i would see in the mostly all of the doctors such as the answer to the question about what he did when he found out he got the role, not knowing what to do but to just go on, pace around and watch T.V. it was quite interesting to see the very small and minute things that he and the role had in common. i can see a bright future for this new Doctor so says me.

  59. esp

    dr who rocks and i should know since im a kid! but he dosnt look as convicing as david tennent…and i wonder WHO his companion will be..
    if u ask me he looks abit evil…. o well.

  60. Chris M

    Really disagree with their choice this time. He is way way too young and I dont think he will be good as the doctor. I personally will stop watching it after all these years when they cast him. Would have been better off with a darker actor… I guess Im just a sad lonely Tovey fan D=.

  61. Kira B

    I don’t truthfully know if I will watch the new season, I might out of curiosity and give him a chance….But he will never be as good as Tennant..NOBODY WILL…I pray that one day Tennant willl return as the legendary time lord as he travels through-out time and space…and I must agree with Esp..He looks somewhat dark…As for his companion, again No-one coudl replace rose…But I might give this new one a chance..Though I also agree with the ones that say he looks a little young..

  62. Mindy

    They should have a female Doctor!

  63. farzana

    i dont want matt smith to play the doctor, he has a tough act to follow and i love david tennant

  64. Woofie

    I’m really gonna miss the 10th doctor/David tennant. I don’t want him 2 leave.

  65. Bookhobbit

    aaah, I’m so nervous! This’ll be the first regeneration I’ll witness that I don’t know what’s coming, since I got into the show so recently. I have to admit that Ten will always be my Doctor, but Matt Smith looks quite interesting. -crosses toes and waits-

  66. Mick Russom

    Bring Christopher Eccleston back for the love of Christ! Lets just switch between Eccleston and Tennant being doctors in a “strange Doctor loop” or something.


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