As shock and sadness about Matt Smith leaving leaving Doctor Who turns toward acceptance and optimism, Whovians have begun speculating about the name of the Doctor... the real name, of the actor who will become the Twelfth during this year's Christmas Special, that is. And in keeping with the Christmas theme, fans all across the internet are coming up with wishlists, wondering if the next Doctor will be a known quantity or a truly fresh face, and if the BBC will entertain a gender change. Lucky for those fans, though, they may not have to wait too long for the answers to those questions.
According to an article on Radiotimes, a source from the BBC has confirmed that the new Doctor "needs to be announced before the Doctor Who Christmas special begins filming next month." The source also explained that keeping the new Time Lord's identity a secret during filming would be an impossibility.
Not an impossibility, though, is the notion that the next Doctor might be a woman. Though fans have long warred over changing the Doctor's gender, the same source said that the BBC had "not ruled out" a female Doctor and, aside from that, showrunner Steven Moffat has previously gone on the record about the idea, telling the crowd at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh Television Festival in August of last year that:
It is a part of Time Lord lore, it can happen. I don't know, who knows? The more often it's talked about, the more likely it's going to happen.
So, could we see a doubly impactful announcement in short order? Like Moffat says, "Who knows?" But with some fans seemingly irked by the show's direction in season 7, it is hard to think that the BBC would choose a Doctor that might alienate some fans (and that goes for any choice, really). But with that said, though, it's easy to see how a female Doctor might also be beneficial, helping to broaden Doctor Who's audience while also opening up an untapped reservoir of creative options for Moffat and his team.
Really, the whole thing seems like an impossible choice for Moffat and the BBC and one that - we now know - they don't have long to make. Choosing the next face of a worldwide phenomenon while girding themselves for a response that cannot be easily forecast? Talk about an unenviable position.
Doctor Who returns in November with the 50th Anniversary Special.