Why Doctor Who's Doctors Don't Stay On The Show Too Long, According To Matt Smith

Doctor Who is one of the biggest gigs on British television an actor can land, and with the title of The Doctor comes a guaranteed bit of celebrity for the actors who portray the Time Lord. Matt Smith knows this as well as most, as well as the unique challenges that come with the role as well.

Matt Smith, who played the Eleventh Doctor on the BBC America series, recently spoke to Port Magazine about the role and shared his thoughts on why he believes most actors who join the show don't remain on the series too long:

Of course you miss Doctor Who – it's the best job in the world, but it's challenging and taxing as well...That's why people often get to three or four years before they throw the towel in.

Smith didn't elaborate on the unique challenges that come with playing a lead role in Doctor Who, though many actors over the years have alluded to the challenge of playing one of science fiction's most popular characters in the modern era. Matt Smith's successor, Peter Capaldi, once said there's a lot more to the role than acting, which may be a hint to why Smith called the experience so taxing.

In the rebooted era of Doctor Who, not one Doctor has stayed with the role longer than four and a half years. It's a large reason why many have speculated Season 13 will be Jodie Whittaker's final season as The Doctor, even before the rumors of her departure first surfaced. The BBC has not commented on the rumors of Whittaker's departure, though that hasn't stopped oddsmakers from posting favorites on who could be cast in the role next.

Matt Smith's latest comments on the taxing nature of Doctor Who are interesting, especially considering comments he made at the time of his exit. Not long after his official departure, Smith admitted that he would've stayed on another year (via Female-First) but that it felt like the right time for him to move on. Smith added that the schedule of filming the series can be grueling, which was something actress Billie Piper noted when she confirmed she wouldn't return to the series anytime soon.

The grueling schedule of Doctor Who could be a reason why Jodie Whittaker allegedly will leave the series, especially after COVID-19 took most of a year away from the show's production schedule. Season 13 began filming back in November, and as of late March, it was still shooting. There's a chance Season 13 will premiere in late 2021, though 2022 doesn't seem off the table for release, either.

Those looking to relive Matt Smith's greatest episodes of Doctor Who can do so right now by binging his episodes over on HBO Max. For more on why Smith and other Doctor Who notables left the series over the years, be sure to check out our handy list detailing each departure.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.