There’s still plenty of time for “Doctor Who” fans to wait before Season 10 debuts in 2017, giving viewers more adventures with Peter Capaldi as the BBC show’s titular Time Lord. That doesn’t mean Whovians aren’t already thinking of who will play the Doctor next, though.
It has yet to be confirmed whether Capaldi will continue with the show once current showrunner Steven Moffat leaves at the end of Season 10, but an interesting name has popped up as a possibility for the next Doctor. The person in question is none other than previous Doctor, Matt Smith.
It all stems from a quote Moffat gave to the Mirror [via Metro] in the U.K., saying Smith is “quite open about how much he misses it, and how much he wishes he hadn’t left.”
That certainly makes it sound like Smith is open to returning to the show after leaving in 2013. What it doesn’t clear up is whether it would be for a one-off appearance — like David Tennant in the 50th anniversary special — or full time as the next Doctor.
While a guest appearance would be a nice nod to fans, it’s hard to see an upside to Smith returning to the TARDIS as the Thirteenth Doctor.
While in the short term seeing a familiar face as the next Doctor sounds comforting, it would be a major misstep for the show — especially as it tries to establish itself under a new showrunner. Evolution is key for “Doctor Who,” which sees a new actor take over the title role every few years, introducing the world to their take on the Doctor.
Bringing back Smith would be a bad case of regression that would be hard to recover from. It would essentially be admitting to fans that what Capaldi has done with the role didn’t work, leading to a sort of reset.
The problem at hand is that isn’t the case. While Capaldi got off to a bumpy start in Season 8, it was no different than just about every other actor sliding into the role. It takes time for the actor and show to form a cohesive bond. Now, after two years, Capaldi shines in the role.
Besides, those who would champion Smith returning to “Doctor Who” are looking back on the end of his run through rose-colored glasses. Throughout Smith’s last season as the Doctor, it was clear that the story quality with that particular version of the Time Lord was declining, leading to one of the most most laughable final episodes of any modern Doctor.
Lastly, there’s simply no new ground for Smith to cover on “Doctor Who.” While he may love and miss working on the show, the truth is there’s nothing left for him to bring to the show in a regular role. Fans have learned all they’re going to about his Doctor and the only thing he could do to the character now is damage.
Smith’s Doctor is best left in the past — and possible in the occasional guest appearance. Instead of relying on its past, “Doctor Who” needs to figure out its future with new showrunner Chris Chibnall.