26 year old Northampton actor Matt Smith has been named by the BBC as the 11th incarnation of TV Time Lord, Doctor Who
. Smith will be the youngest actor to step into the Doctor's shoes in the show's 45 year history, replacing Scottish actor David Tennant (37).
Smith will begin filming for Season 5 in the (UK) summer, but won't appear on screen in the new role until 2010, Tennant has just appeared as the Tenth Doctor in the BBC show's Christmas special, "The Next Doctor"
, and will continue in the role for 4 more Doctor Who "special episodes" in 2009 (replacing a regular season of the tv series).
Head of Drama at BBC Wales, Piers Wenger, said the team had not set out to cast the youngest Doctor, but described Smith as "the obvious choice", claiming "It was abundantly clear that he had that 'Doctor-ness' about him".
Smith's previous television roles include the 2006 adaption of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke
, where he played opposite former Doctor Who companion Billie Piper. He also appeared in the BBC Two political drama Party Animals
The previous youngest Doctor was Peter Davison, who played the Fifth Doctor in the BBC television series, from 1982-1984.
The show's executive producer (and new lead writer, following the departure of Russell T Davies) insists the role in the safe hands with Matt Smith...
"The Doctor is a very special part, and it takes a very special actor to play him. You need to be old and young at the same time, a boffin and an action hero, a cheeky schoolboy and the wise old man of the universe.
“As soon as Matt walked through the door and blew us away with a bold and brand new take on the Time Lord, we knew we had our man. 2010 is a long time away but rest assured the 11th doctor is coming – and the universe has never been so safe.”
The popular British sci-fi drama series began on the BBC in 1963, but was dropped by the network in 1989. A tv movie/pilot was made in 1996, but that didn't lead to a revived tv show. It was relaunched as a tv series in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston playing the Ninth Doctor.