It had been rumored for quite awhile, and on midnight, June 1st, the BBC declared the rumor to be true: Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor, will not be returning for the eighth series (they call them series over there, not seasons) of the long-running science-fiction program.
The mourning period for Smith's run as the Doctor lasted for all of 27 seconds. That was the space of time it took for the announcement to hit my twitter, and for the first suggestion of a replacement to come hurtling out of the yawning abyss of the internet.
Between now and Christmas Day, when the Doctor will regenerate into his newest form, there's going to be a ton of speculation as to who will step into the role. The release from the BBC made it sound as if there haven't been any meetings so far, with showrunner Steven Moffat stating "Somewhere out there right now - all unknowing, just going about their business - is someone who's about to become the Doctor."
Because I know Mr. Moffat is a considerate person, who often looks to the internet as a friendly entity with loads of great ideas, I'd like to send this balloon up, knowing that he'll spy it, haul it down, and think over the following 10 suggestions for the next Doctor very carefully.
Before we begin: This list does not have either Idris Elba or Michael Fassbender on it. I know, I know - they should be cast in everything, as everything, and if there were a portal behind a file cabinet in an office somewhere, and we could crawl through it and land in a world where everything was Elba and Fassbender, everywhere, all of the time? Believe me, I'd want to go too. But I'm taking those two off the table, because I just don't see it happening.
(Besides, Elba's much better suited for Bond than the Doctor, anyway)
1) Dame Helen Mirren
Mirren's actually gone on record as saying she wants to do it. Which is pretty cool. The problem is that she's 67 years old, and there is a lot of running around on the show. Still though, if Dame Helen says "I'd like to give it a go," you should probably at least check in with her, right?
2) Chiwetel Ejiofor
Ejiofor is no stranger to sci-fi, having starred in Serenity, Children of Men, and Roland Emmerich's accidental comedy, 2012. Plus he's also said he would like to do it if offered the opportunity.
3) Damian Lewis
I know there are people out there who have responded to the Doctor's cracks at possibly becoming a ginger with the suggestion that Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) take up the role. And it's not as if Grint isn't suited to play the Doctor. But if we're going to go Ginger? Let's really go there. Problem is, he's on Showtime's Homeland, and while the show's estimation has sunk somewhat, it's still relatively successful, so chances Lewis would bail to become the Doctor are pretty teensy.
4) Richard Ayoade
If you've seen The IT Crowd, you know why this guy fits, and fits rather perfectly. If you haven't, well shit, just go and watch The IT Crowd already, and find out for yourself. There are worse ways to learn than by watching one of the better sitcoms Britain's turned out in years.
5) Anthony Stewart Head
Head was actually considered to play the Doctor in the 1996 TV-Movie misfire, before producers settled on Paul McGann. He ended up playing a bad guy in a series two episode, and has done voice-work in a couple Doctor Who radio dramas. Whedonites of course know of the man's range via his work as Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Like Mirren, however - he'd probably be considered too old to do the level of running around that the role presently requires.
6) Emma Thompson
For a career as strong as hers has been, with amazing performances in The Remains of the Day and Sense and Sensibility, Thompson is probably best known for being Professor Trelawney in the Harry Potter movies. Obviously, she's not at all snobby about taking genre roles, but someone who works as often as she does might not want to be tied down to a television show whose production schedule isn't the most optimal even in its best years.
7) Jessica Hynes
The writer/co-star of Spaced has previously appeared in an episode of Doctor Who, and according to whatever rando wrote her imdb biography, is a big fan of science-fiction, having spent much of her school-years writing bizarre stories.
8) Tom Hollander
Can balance hapless, humorous, willful, and determined all at once, and make each emotion seem equally convincing. The best example of this might be, believe it or not, his role as Simon Foster in the political satire and primer on how-to-profane-like-a-fucking-champion, In the Loop. He's best known as the sniveling Cutler Beckett in the shitty Pirates of the Carribbean sequels.
9) Rafe Spall
What better way to atone for being such a bad biologist in Prometheus than to be maybe the most helpful being in the entire universe and all alternate universes and timelines contained within and/or without? It's guaranteed to be much better at showcasing what a likable, charming guy he can be, as seen in his work with Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and his own show, Pete versus Life.
10) Tamsin Greig
Best known for her roles in Black Books and Green Wing, can be both acidic and vulnerable, sometimes within the same shot. Has wicked comic timing as well. If anything, I could see her providing a take most similar to Christopher Eccleston's turn as the Ninth Doctor.