Mere seconds after the announcement that Matt Smith would be stepping down from Doctor Who at the end of the year (during the Christmas special, and after November’s 50th Anniversary special), the Internet exploded not with grief, but with suggestions for a replacement. Some of these suggestions have been completely batsh*t. Some of them are fun, yes, but we Whovians often get a big head about our beloved Doctor and are deluded into believing that the very same people that might be considered for the next James Bond would also be considered for the next Doctor Who. Idris Elba? Are you serious? Benedict Cumberbatch? Uh, he barely has time to film Sherlock, so he’s unlikely to sign on for a huge commitment like Doctor Who. The same goes for Martin Freeman, Tom Hiddleston, Rhys Ifans, and any other British star who is big enough to be well known in America. Daniel Radcliffe or Rupert Grint? Ninja please!
That is just not how Doctor Who works. Yes, it’d be great if they brought in someone of color, or even if the Doctor was a woman. But hiring a known quantity — at least a quantity known to American audiences — is not exactly in line with history. Yes, it’s fun to dreamcast, but keep in mind that Doctor Who — despite a lot of progress since its early beginnings — is still a low-budget sci-fi show, and it’s ratings aren’t exactly The Walking Dead like (in fact, I believe it receives around 7 million viewers in Britain, and 2-3 million viewers on BBC America, which means even the combined international audience is two-thirds of what Big Bang Theory gets in America).
In other words, we can expect someone like we’ve gotten in the past: A familiar face to Brits, but someone that’s not necessarily well known to Americans. Christopher Eccleston is the biggest star the series has ever landed, and I only knew him as a supporting player in 28 Days Later …, and even then, with that stature, he only agreed to one season (and apparently, to wash his hands clean of the series henceforth). So, what we’re likely to see — man, woman, black, or white — is another British actor, unfamiliar to most of us who will likely be familiar to British audiences, but not a superstar.
These are not necessarily the best choice, but the best, most realistic candidates to replace Matt Smith in 2014.