Less than an hour until they announce who the next Doctor will be. OK… I’ll plump for Paterson Joseph. I know he’s already quite high up at the bookies – but it presents all sorts of potential. His recent work on ‘Survivors‘ presents a fine Who link (as it was created originally by Terry Nation, who also created the Daleks).
I doubt they’d go as far as making the Doctor a woman – and I’d personally prefer Richard E. Grant (purely for the fan boy reason that this would explain the aberration of ‘The Scream of the Shalka‘, in which he starred as an unidentified future regeneration of the Doctor) – but Paterson makes for a change without going out on a limb. He has been in the series already (he got killed in the future version of the Weakest Link, didn’t he?), but I’ve always thought the regeneration process draws on the Doctor’s experiences, as much as anything, to choose a final form. So, memories of a certain appearance leak into the process and mean the chances of coming out the other end looking like someone else can happen as often as anything completely new. That would explain Colin Baker, too! (he appeared in The Arc of Infinity as Commander Maxil before becoming the Doctor himself)
We won’t be seeing him in action until sometime in 2010… so, we all have plenty of time to wean ourselves off Tennant.
My really far out selection for the Doctor would be to set Series 5 during the Time War and allow Paul McGann (and perhaps India Fisher) to have their moment in the limelight. You could have all sorts of adventures charting the progress into and through the War, culminating in the Doctor’s sacrifice to defeat the enemy and force his regeneration into the Ninth Doctor. Like a flashback… and then Series Six can return us to present day Who.
Addendum: Ah well. Matt Smith is the Eleventh Doctor. My suggestions, while entirely valid and viable, must have simply been too much for the BBC to handle. So, we have Matt – who, on first impressions, I have no good feelings about. I shall have to be won over, I suppose.