It’s always a sad and unexpected time when a Doctor decides to leave the show, and that’s exactly what it was like on 1st June 2013 when The Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, officially announced that he would be departing from the role later that year.
Following four successful years as the raggedy Time Lord, Smith believed it was the right time for him to move on to other projects – in his own words: “when ya gotta go, ya gotta go!”. Matt made his Doctor Who debut in 2010, regenerating from David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor in ‘The End of Time, Part Two’ and kicking off his first full season of adventures with Series 5’s The Eleventh Hour. Despite being a relative unknown when he was first cast, Smith’s performances as Gallifrey’s runaway rebel catapulted him to stardom and turned him into a household name, ensuring that Doctor Who continued going from strength to strength under the reign of Steven Moffat following the departure of previous showrunner Russell T Davies. He also has the honour of being the youngest actor to ever land the part, as well as the first to be nominated for a BAFTA for the role.
Speaking about his time on the show, Smith said he was “incredibly proud” and that he had “the most brilliant experience” since being given the keys to the TARDIS. His fellow cast and crew members, including Steven Moffat and current companion Jenna Coleman, offered kind words and well wishes for his future, both saddened by the loss of a great leading man and friend, while looking forward to the prospect of Doctor Who reinvigorating itself all over again with a new actor at the helm.
As The Eleventh Doctor, Matt had faced off against Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, and the Silence in his three series prior to the announcement, but his time wasn’t quite up just yet – Smith would continue in the role for the show’s landmark 50th anniversary special, ‘The Day of The Doctor’, before regenerating into Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor at the end of the 2013 Christmas special, ‘The Time of The Doctor’, which finally depicted “the fall of the Eleventh” on the fields of Trenzalore.
Since leaving Doctor Who, Matt Smith has starred in a number of films, including Ryan Gosling’s ‘Lost River’, ‘Pride & Prejudice & Zombies’, and even alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Terminator Genisys’. He also appeared on stage in ‘American Psycho’ and will tread the boards once more later this year in ‘Unreachable’ at the Royal Court Theatre. He can also be seen playing Prince Philip in the upcoming Netflix series, ‘The Crown’.
Will we ever see Matt return to Doctor Who in a future multi-Doctor story? Only time will tell, but he certainly seems keen to reprise his role if the opportunity were to ever present itself… 60th-anniversary special in 2023, anyone?