In the past week there have been many news stories about how Matt Smith regrets leaving Doctor Who. He played the Eleventh Doctor from 2010-2014 and was replaced by Peter Capaldi in “The Time of the Doctor.”
Steven Moffat, the current show runner, commented he would love to have Matt back in the show. With Moffat leaving after the next series and the rumored exit of Capaldi, a new Doctor will be needed.
I was asked this week if I wanted Matt Smith back on the show.
My answer was “No.”
Part of this comes from feeling jilted by the last number of series, starting with the last two during Smith’s run.
But then I started thinking how they could actually bring him back, and the solution is simple. He cannot be the Eleventh Doctor. This may seem self-explanatory, but casting him again makes the temptation great to let him play the role as he did in the past. That is why my answer was at first no. Fans, and even writers, would expect him to be the Eleventh Doctor.
Not only would this bring the show backwards, but also undercuts perhaps one of the greatest, and saddest, revelations of the modern series. In “The End of the Time” the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant, finally describes what regenerating is for him:
“I can still die. If I’m killed before regeneration then I’m dead. Even then. Even if I change, it feels like dying. Everything I am dies. Some new man goes sauntering away. And I’m dead.”
Through the regenerations the Doctor retains memories, but the personalities die, and there is no going backward. To so do would betray the emotional destruction of Ten’s death.
But “The Day of the Doctor” presents the idea the Doctor may “revisit” faces later in his life. We have seen with the regeneration into the Twelfth Doctor there is some level of control, most likely subconscious, during the regeneration process. Even the Master’s regeneration into Missy seems to have been an intentional choice.
If there is this level of control, then the Thirteenth, or some other future Doctor, could have Matt Smith’s face again. The key part is he needs a completely new personality. There can be some nods to the Eleventh Doctor, but they would need to move away from bow ties and fish sticks with custard.
If this does happen, it would be best to wait a few more doctors. Plus, future show runner Chris Chibnall has his own ideas for the series and may not be looking to cast Matt Smith again.