Doctor Who: Top five actors who should replace Matt Smith

By James Dohnert , Updated Jun 03, 2013 10:18 AM EDT

The eleventh Doctor will be no more by the end of the year. Actor Matt Smith has announced that he will be leaving the long running series after this year's Christmas Special. The news gives Smith two more episodes before hanging up the bow tie for good.

Smith's departure will mean a new Doctor will take the helm for the 12th incarnation of the character. Whoever takes on the role next will experience a new level of stardom. The show's rabid fans and global success means that the next Doctor will be putting his/her life into the character for at least the next year.

Here are some of the potential contenders for the 12th Doctor. The contenders run the gambit of demographics and possible characterizations. Some of the names come from established backgrounds. While other actors listed are just waiting for their big break.

Already passed: Beneidict Cumberbach
Beneidict Cumberbach is quickly becoming a big star in Hollywood. He just finished work on Star Trek Into Darkness as the lead villain in the piece. His work on in the film looks to launch him into the upper echelon of movie actors.

However, before he was in summer blockbusters he was up for the part of the Doctor. When Steven Moffat was casting the Timelord for season five he saw every young actor in London. Rumors at the time stated that Cumberbach and Smith were the two top choices to play the next Doctor. Some reports even stated that Cumberbach was the top pick for the role but declined it after intense negotiations.

Moffat was so smitten with his audition that he would later cast Cumberbach after he passed for Sherlock. In Sherlock, Cumberbach shows the type of flippant enthusiasm that the Doctor demonstrates each week. Fans of the show know that Cumberbach's portal of Sherlock is very much just the Doctor in modern day England.

Unfortunately, Cumberbach is probably too big to play a time and space traveler. He already passed on the part and looks to be on his way to becoming a major movie star.

An older doctor: John Hurt
John Hurt is already supposed to play the Doctor this November. The famed actor is reportedly playing a version of the 8th Doctor for the show's 50th anniversary. If he does decide to stay on the show for more than just a one-off he could bring an amount of pathos so far unseen on the show.

Hurt would be able to play the older version of the Doctor that Moffat originally wanted to use for his version of the show. Prior to casting Smith, Moffat said he was looking for an older actor to take on the part. His script for Library of the Damned even sees River Song comment on meeting a Doctor in his later years.

Aside from his age, Hurt's long career as an actor has proved that he would be up for the task of playing the character. Hurt's career has seen him play parts ranging from the comedic to the dramatic. His history as an actor bodes well for him to bring a take on the character that is both funny and touching.

The main issue with Hurt taking on the character is that he has no reason to join the show. He already has the stature of a well known actor and may cost the BBC an arm and a leg. While it would be fun to see him play the character regularly it seems unlikely that he'd take on the part full time.

A new take: David Oyelowo
Since returning to airwaves, Whovians have been arguing over the idea of an African American actor becoming the Doctor. In theory, anyone can regenerate into the Timelord. Despite only being played by Caucasian actors, the Doctor can transform into a person of any race or gender.

If Moffat decided to create a Doctor who looks different from past incarnation then David Oyelowo would be a smart pick to take on the role. Oyelowo has already done his share of major movies. He played a supporting part in the recent Planet of the Apes remake and was in the Oscar winning adaptation of The Help.

His previous roles have seen him play everything from big boisterous characters to clever business types. Oyelowo's portrayal would be full of unknowns but his acting chops have been vetted enough to make sure he can play the part.

The biggest worry about his casting would be a potential fan backlash. Unfortunately, some fans of the show hate the idea of a person of color taking on the role. While the idea of the Doctor having to look a certain way is ignorant, the BBC could be too worried about the potential backlash to cast Oyelowo.

A female doctor: Hayley Atwell
If theirs one thing some Whovians complain about more than an African American Doctor, it's a female Doctor. Women Timelords have already been cast on the show. Catharine Tate briefly played a half human/Timelord during her run. Yet, a female Doctor is a blasphemous idea to some fans of the show.

Hopefully, Moffat and the crew of Doctor Who ignore those complaints and at least audition some women for the role. If they do, Hayley Atwell would be a great actress to play the Doctor. Her role in Captain America: The First Avenger turned heads. She was able to represent a strong female character that was equal parts fun and heroic.

Atwell would be a great choice for the part but her gender may be a deterrent to becoming the 12th Doctor. In the same way that fans could decry Oyelowo's casting, they would also take umbrage with Atwells'.

The Favorite: Jason Flemyng
Jason Flemyng has a long history of playing 'that guy'. The character actor's career has seen him in movies such as X-men, Layer Cake and Hanna. Flemyng's work shows that he can play anything from the comic relief to the bad guy. Not to mention, he already has Sci-Fi credentials having stared in the time traveling dinosaur show Primeval.

Flemyng's portrayal of the Doctor could end up being very David Tennant-like in nature. His Doctor could foreseeable play a bit goofy but with a dark edge. If given the opportunity to play the part he would be able to show the type of diverse acting skills needed to properly play the Timelord.

The best thing about casting Flemyng is that theirs no potential conflicts to him taking the part. He is age appropriate and has enough fame to be taken seriously for the part. Yet, he's not so famous that he would be out of the BBC's price range.

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