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LONDON — With Matt Smith set to leave BBC hit show Doctor Who, bookmakers have started providing odds for who may replace the actor in the lead role of the popular sci-fi series.
Britain’s biggest bookie, William Hill, named Russell Tovey (BBC supernatural drama Being Human, BBC Three sitcom Him & Her), who has appeared in a couple of Doctor Who episodes, and Harry Potter star Rupert Grint as joint favorites with odds of 10/1.
Observers also speculated that the show could get its first female or non-white lead. William Hill said the odds of the next Doctor Who being a woman were 8/1. The BBC recently defended the show against racism claims.
Other names listed by William Hill as having a good chance to become Doctor Who include Billie Piper, who used to play the Doctor’s sidekick Rose Tyler a few years ago; Sherlock and The Hobbit star Martin Freeman; David Harewood (Homeland); Rory Kinnear (Quantum of Solace, Skyfall); Ben Whishaw (The Hour, Cloud Atlas), who also played James Bond’s gadget man Q in Skyfall; Merlin star Colin Morgan; as well as actor and director David Morrissey, who has also appeared on Doctor Who before.
Meanwhile, Ladbrokes said Kinnear was the likeliest Doctor Who replacement with odds of 3/1, ahead of Harewood (4/1) and Whishaw (5/1). It also listed Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch (6/1) as a contender and offered 9/1 odds on Tovey. It listed Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe as another possibility.
Paddy Power listed House of Cards and Merlin star Ben Daniels as the 6/1 favorite to take on the Doctor Who role, ahead of Chiwetel Ejiofor (Amistad, Talk to Me). It also listed the likes of Tovey, Whishaw, Kinnear, Harewood and Grint high up on its list of favorites. Among potential female leads, it gave the best odds to Olivia Colman (Broadchurch) at 20/1.
British TV writers also suggested such names as John Hurt, Idris Elba, Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel and actor/rapper Ashley Walters in predicting possible contenders.
Meanwhile, some predicted that showrunner Steven Moffat could well pick a relative unknown. Of the 11 Doctors so far, only one — Peter Davison — was already a recognizable name when he was cast as the show’s lead, the Guardian pointed out.
“If you look at the history of the things he’s done, nobody but Moffat would have cast Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes or Matt Smith as Doctor Who,” it quoted a TV agent as saying. “The only thing you can expect is the unexpected.”
The William Hill bookies still offered odds for such entertainment and sports stars as David Beckham, Tom Cruise and Simon Cowell, but only as people who are unlikely to take up the role at 250/1. Among other big-name stars, Ladbrokes offered odds on Helen Mirren.
As far as the new lead being a woman, the TV agent cited by the Guardian said: “For it to be an unknown black or Asian actor, someone of great flamboyance, like Smith, is more likely than it being a woman.”
Moffat over the weekend didn’t tip his hand. “Somewhere out there … is someone who’s about to become the Doctor,” he said in announcing Smith’s departure.