Home Entertainment The eleventh time is always the hardest, as Matt Smith departs DOCTOR WHO

The eleventh time is always the hardest, as Matt Smith departs DOCTOR WHO

4 min read

If there’s one aspect of Doctor Who that never fails to deliver, it’s the surprises. We’ve already seen the origin of Clara Oswald explained in a cliffhanger episode that I won’t spoil here for those of you who have yet to see it (SHAME ON YOU, SHAME! I NAME THEE SHAMED FOR EVERMORE!).

But the one surprise that always hits the hardest? Seeing the actor in charge of portraying the last of the time lords announce a departure from that series. Christopher Eccleston left after only a season due to what we can only assume must have been the mother of all creative differences, while David Tennant succeeded him with a brilliant four year run. And now, eleventh Doctor Matt Smith will be saying farewell to the series.

eleventh doctor who

The BBC confirmed the news, with Matt Smith releasing the following press statement which now contradicts his earlier statements about staying on for an eigth season:

Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show. I’m incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day, to realise all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience. Many of them have become good friends and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years.

Having Steven Moffat as show runner write such varied, funny, mind-bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career. It’s been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven, he’s a good friend and will continue to shape a brilliant world for the Doctor.

The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I’ve never seen before, your dedication is truly remarkable. Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, number Eleven, who I might add is not done yet, I’m back for the 50th anniversary and the Christmas special!

It’s been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS for a spell with ‘the ginger, the nose and the impossible one’. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys.


Current showrunner and head writer Steven Moffat also took the time to reflect on the work accomplished with Smith, having had the following to say:

Every day, on every episode, in every set of rushes, Matt Smith surprised me: the way he’d turn a line, or spin on his heels, or make something funny, or out of nowhere make me cry, I just never knew what was coming next. The Doctor can be clown and hero, often at the same time, and Matt rose to both challenges magnificently.

And even better than that, given the pressures of this extraordinary show, he is one of the nicest and hardest-working people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Whatever we threw at him – sometimes literally – his behaviour was always worthy of the Doctor.

But great actors always know when it’s time for the curtain call, so this Christmas prepare for your hearts to break, as we say goodbye to number Eleven. Thank you Matt – bow ties were never cooler.

Of course, this isn’t the end of the story, because now the search begins. Somewhere out there right now – all unknowing, just going about their business – is someone who’s about to become the Doctor. A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again! After 50 years, that’s still so exciting!

It’ll be sad to see Smith depart, but he’s had a hell of a run so far, taking over from Tennat at the end of the New Years 2010 special, The End of Time Part 2. And it’s been a role that hasn’t just been confined to television either. Smith has appeared in numerous audio plays, events and games as the character, something that has lent his particular incarnation a certain charm. There’s still some time to go, with the upcoming 50th anniversary episode that reunites him with 10th Doctor David Tennant as the mystery surrounding that guy is hopefully answered, before we say Geronimo one more time for the Christmas episode.

I’m hoping that it isn’t as sad as Tennant’s regeneration though. My heart would break. Again.

So, with that bit of news confirmed, who would you like to see take on the role of the Time Lord next? I’m feverishly dreaming that it’s Jeremy Irons, or Idris Elba. And Bleeding Cool has a few suggestions of their own to go along with those, suggesting that Ben “House of Cards” Daniels might be the next Doctor.

Sounds like some tall odds in that list though. Which is why I’m laying five pounds on the next Doctor being Bill Bailey. Because if it’s Rupert Grint, then the Daleks will already have more than enough fuel in their fire to hate the Doctor even further.

Last Updated: June 3, 2013


  1. Why is he leaving? I have read many articles saying that Doctor Who hasn’t been doing as well as when Tennent was at the helm. I think that is a load of rubbish, but I do wonder…


    • Kervyn Cloete

      June 3, 2013 at 12:44

      Smith’s run has been immensely popular, he even became the first actor to ever be nominated for a BAFTA for playing the Doctor, plus he helped bring Doctor Who to the USA. So no, I definitely don’t think that was the issue.

      The feeling I always got from interviews and such was that Smith would be willing to keep playing the Doctor as long as the story allowed him to, and that’s what I think happened here: Moffat has come up with a story that requires the Doctor to regenerate, which means that no matter how much Smith wants to stay, it’s time ride off into the sunset.


      • Rinceandspit...

        June 3, 2013 at 13:22

        I am glad to hear it. I think he kicks ass. I still think Tennant was my fav, but smith a close second.


      • Andre116

        June 3, 2013 at 17:45

        So…at the risk of getting myself castrated…what season should I start watching Dr Who from?


        • Kervyn Cloete

          June 3, 2013 at 20:55

          Well, Season 1 of course! I am of course referring to Season 1 of the modern run of the show that began in 2005 with Chris Eccleston as the Doctor. While everything that happened before that is in continuity, they’ve made it very noob-friendly for anybody jumping on there.

          I will warn you, those first 2 seasons were a leftover from the show’s extremely low budget roots, meaning that they often featured incredibly cheesy and bad FX. Doctor Who was also always a kids show that the whole family could watch (though Steven Moffat turned it into a much more mature sci-fi epic), and that legacy carries over in this one.

          Some people get put off by this whimsical, cheap looking early stories, but I find them utterly charming, because underneath the bad rubber suits and dodgy CGI there’s almost always a really good story,


          • Andre116

            June 3, 2013 at 21:38

            Cool, I’ll have a go at it. I’m a bit bored with the current line up of tv shows and am hoping to get something to really sink my teeth into. I was waching Arrow, but at some point I realised, ” it is a guy with a bow and arrow”. Also tried Revolution, but despite my love for the post apocalyptic, it just felt to clean cut for me. Inspector Spacetime…I mean Dr Who, it is!

  2. Ilden Webber

    June 3, 2013 at 12:22

    Now there’s a part of me that wonders how it would be if Rupert Grint did take over as the new Doctor.


  3. Tracy Benson

    June 3, 2013 at 21:20

    I am sort of sad, sort of happy about this news. It took me a long time to start liking Matt Smith as the Doctor, I only really warmed up to him in Season 7. He never really lived up to Tennant in my mind. So I’m sad to see him go, just when I felt he was finding his balance in the role, but I’m okay with it.

    The only thing is… it’s impossible to try avoid the internet until December, I don’t want to listen to the rumors and supposition surrounding his replacement. I’d rather it be a complete surprise when it happens.

    And I really hope they don’t give him an exit like Tennant’s, that figuratively killed me.


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