Whatever fireworks the special story celebrating the 50th anniversary of DOCTOR WHO may have to offer, the golden light of regeneration will not be among them — because Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor is going nowhere anytime soon.
While he did not go as far as Jenna-Louise Coleman and commit to the eighth season, Matt appeared on The Jonathan Ross Show this week and, when asked about his future as the Time Lord, responded thusly:
“I’ve got to be diplomatic…because if I give the whole game away I’ll be screwed. The thing is with Who, you’ll understand this more when you’ve watched it.
“I go and I do the anniversary special, then I go away for a bit [to shoot a movie in Hollywood], and then I come back and do the Christmas special. It’s one of those jobs that you have to take year by year; it’s 10 months a year; it’s all-consuming.
So I don’t think you can plan five or six years ahead, or even two years ahead. It’s a year by year thing, and at the moment it’s 2013, and we’ll see what 2014 holds.”
So there you have it, straight from Matt’s lips: He’s committed to doing the Christmas special!
Now, yes, I suppose, in theory, the Xmas story could be a flashback with the 11th Doctor if the 12th Doctor were to debut in the Nov. 23 episode, but that seems exceedingly unlikely. It could be that the holiday staple will be Matt’s swansong in the bow tie, with the Doctor changing faces at Yuletide. But that just feels wrong; I doubt show-runner Steven Moffat would kill the Doctor on Christmas Day, especially with Steven’s well-known love for a happy holiday.
And do not underestimate the significance of the production office delaying filming so that Matt can go off and shoot a big-time Hollywood movie. Delays force people to change schedules and delays cost money, so the fact that Moffat and company are willing to accommodate Matt on this is really big. Matt could have been written out right at the end of series seven, or given a cameo for the special just to hand over the reins to his successor. But no; the show is waiting for Matt.
So I choose to take a more hopeful tack, with Matt remaining with the series for season eight. I could picture the Grand Moff spending an entire season leading up to regeneration; the Doctor’s doom would be the umbrella story, presumably climaxing on the Fields of Trenzalore at the “Fall of the 11th.” Whatever that means. But I could also picture Matt staying in the role for the next 10 years. Or more, if it were up to me.
Remember when Prisoner Zero warned the Doctor: “Silence will fall”? Well, that certainly didn’t turn out the way anyone thought. And while “The Fall of the Ponds” did play out according to expectations, it was much better than we could have hoped. And I think Moffat will deliver again, when the time comes for the 11th Doctor to go.
Filming on Moffat’s 50th anniversary story, by the way, has been delayed until April (it was supposed to begin this week), but it will still air on Nov. 23.