Matt Smith leaves Doctor Who, next Doctor chosen by reality competition
March 31, 2013
Matt Smith to give up famous role, BBC commissions reality show to choose replacement
Just one day after the return of Doctor Who, the BBC has today confirmed long-standing rumors by announcing that Matt Smith will be leaving the hit show after the next series, leaving behind the newest companion Jenna-Louise Coleman.
But the surprise announcement didn't end there... for the first time ever, fans will be given the chance to help chart the direction of the show, with the debut of the new reality competition "Who's Who?" which will give excited hopefuls the chance to audition to play the twelfth regeneration of the iconic character of the Doctor.
"Playing the Doctor is, and I suspect always will be, the greatest thing to ever happen to my career." Smith told BBC Radio 3. But with that honor comes a great responsibility, that of passing the torch, and really, I can't think of a more exciting way to do it."
Smith will continue through the 50th Anniversary special, and this year's Christmas special, but plans to leave some time in series 8. Starting in May, auditions will begin to replace him... but, instead of the usual closed-door sessions, they'll be open and on camera. Following the mold of successful shows like How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do, and Over The Rainbow, the role will be chosen as part of an interactive reality competition. Thousands are expected to apply, and the panel of judges will select only a few dozen to move on and, over the course of two hour-long episodes, winnow the list down to a top ten. "I'm going to be one of the judges," Smith confirmed, "Along with Stephen [Moffat], and Jenna[-Louise Coleman] of course, because she'll have to work with them. And we're hoping to get past Doctors and companions involved, but that's really up to Stephen."
Stephen Moffat will executive produce the new competition, as well as judge, and was also the one to pitch the idea to BBC One. "I first had the idea to do this with casting a companion," Moffat revealed, "until Jenna came around and blew us all away. But when you think about it, the Doctor is the ideal choice for this type of show. Some of the best Doctors were previously relatively unknown, and, unlike a completely new character, you have something to work with. You can always recognize the Doctor-ness in somebody, and yet at the same time, he's always subtly different. Usually it's the producers who decide what the next Doctor will be like, but why not let fans help chart the course of the show they love so much? Who better than the viewers to answer my favorite question, 'Doctor Who?' for the next generation."
Hopefuls who make it past the first auditions will be subjected to a series of challenges, including designing their own unique look for the Doctor, and performing in special Doctor Who webisodes filmed on the TARDIS and written specifically for the competition.
"This really is open to everybody," Moffat promised. "Any race, any gender, any age, any type of personality, as long as you can act, you have a shot and it will be the fans who ultimately decide... Who's Who."
Over the next week, a selection of sample speeches will be posted to the BBC's Doctor Who site for those hoping to audition. Anyone auditioning will be expected to pick one and perform it in front of the judges, from memory. The first one is presented here:
"People are always so afraid of being wrong. And of course we want to be right, but if you're right all the time, there are no surprises, no discoveries. I'd rather be clever than right. If you're clever, you can be wrong twenty times a day and everything still turns out okay, because you're always learning. If you turn out to be wrog, made to look the fool, so what? I'm telling you, April, fools are the best!"
I'm going to miss Smith more than I did Tennant, but change is always nice. I don't know about the whole competition thing though... interesting, I guess?