The BBC has confirmed that Matt Smith will be leaving Doctor Who after this year’s Christmas special.

Yes, the day we’ve all been dreading has come.

The BBC has announced that Matt Smith will be leaving after the series 7 Christmas special, to be replaced by a new Doctor.

They write, “After four years as the Time Lord on the BBC One show, viewers will see Smith’s Doctor regenerate in the 2013 Christmas special.”

This sounds like we’ll actually meet the new Doctor in the Christmas special – unless of course they choose not to show the end result, leaving us hanging until 2014!

Considering that the series 7 finale introduced John Hurt as the Doctor and that he’ll be appearing in the 50th Anniversary special (alongside Smith and former Doctor, David Tennant), do we think he’ll be the face of Twelve? Or will it be someone else entirely?

The British newspaper The Telegraph quotes Smith as saying, “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.”

He emphasises how positive his experience on the show has been, saying “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.”

Matt Smith has been with Doctor Who since 2010, when he crashed the TARDIS in Amelia Pond’s backyard in the season 5 opener “The Eleventh Hour.” Since then he’s claimed the heart of many, and is a popular pick amongst Doctor Who fans for their favorite Doctor.

This announcement doesn’t come as a shock to some, like this writer, as they’ve been expecting it since the season finale two weeks ago.

An actor’s run as the Doctor tends be about three-four years. In the newer era, Christopher Eccleston (the ninth Doctor) has had the shortest run so far, only lasting a year.

Eccleston’s successor David Tennant stayed on for much longer, playing the Doctor from 2005-2010. Similarly, Smith’s departure after the Christmas Special puts him at almost five years.

But that’s just the reboot. The Doctor with the longest run before the series was cancelled is Tom Baker, who has an astonishing seven years under his belt.

Other than Baker and Tennant, no Doctor has been able to last as long as Smith. The reasons for this range from bad relationships behind the scenes to the higher-ups deciding that the time had come to give the Doctor a fresh face.

It’ll be interesting to see Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) stay on with the Doctor through his regeneration, because she’ll be the first companion to do so since Rose Tyler in 2005.

In the classic era, Peri was the last companion to witness the Doctor change (from his fifth to sixth regeneration), and we’re excited to see Jenna-Louise Coleman get the chance to act opposite the new Doctor, too.

While we are very sad to lose Smith as the Doctor, we’re glad he made it into the Doctor Who history books as the eleventh and youngest Doctor.

And the good news is that it seems everyone who started on the show in 2010 has now made the transition smoothly away from Doctor Who! Arthur Darvill is currently in a production of Once on Broadway, Karen Gillan has been cast in Guardians of the Galaxy, the latest Marvel movie in production.

Matt Smith already has new work lined up, as he’s been working with Ryan Gosling on the film How to Catch A Monster.

Now, let’s begin the speculating!

Who do you want to be the next Doctor?

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