Matt Smith has just completed his first full season of Doctor Who, but news of his imminent departure is already being discussed.
The 27-year-old actor has, apparently, revealed his career plans to friends, who have in turn revealed them to the Sun. He has told pals he wants to leave after just two series of the BBC1 sci-fi show so he can try his hand at movies.
A "pal" of the actor is quoted in the paper, saying, "Matt plans to quit after the next series. He is eager to try new things and thinks Hollywood beckons."
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the BBC is also quoted by them as saying, "Matt is filming the Christmas special and then goes on to film the second series. Beyond that, the BBC and Matt won't speculate on things."
Indeed, this year's Christmas special – the seventh since the show returned in 2005 – commenced filming in Wales earlier this week. Smith will be joined for the festive episode by the Shakespearean actor, Sir Michael Gambon (Harry Potter), Welsh mezzo-soprano singer, Katherine Jenkins, and Karen Gillan and Rory Williams, who play his current husband-and-wife companions, Amy and Rory.
To date, Smith is the youngest actor to have played the Doctor. At the time of his casting announcement in 2009, the show's head writer and executive producer, Steven Moffat (Jekyll), a BBC press statement, spoke highly of the then virtual unknown:
The Doctor is a very special part, and it takes a very special actor to play him. You need to be old and young at the same time, a boffin and an action hero, a cheeky schoolboy and the wise old man of the universe. As soon as Matt walked through the door, and blew us away with a bold and brand new take on the Time Lord, we knew we had our man.
In an interview he gave to Doctor Who Magazine last year, Smith seemed to suggest that he would remain with the show for three or four years, pointing out that it would be interesting for him as an actor to see how he developed the role as he approached 30.
And, only last month, Smith confirmed to Digital Spy that he loved playing the part and had no immediate plans to move on. In the video interview, he said he could continue in the part for "50 million years".
Seven different actors played the Doctor druring the programme's first 26-year run – or what is now commonly referred to as the Classic Series – which aired between 1963 and 1989. In the five years since it's return in 2005, nearly half that number, three, have already played the show's lead.
Christopher Eccleston stunned fans of the show when it was announced only days after his first episode was screened in the UK that he was quitting. He played the Doctor for three months, from March to June 2005. David Tennant then took over, staying in the part for three series and eight specials. Smith was first seen as the Doctor at the climax of Tennant's last episode, The End of Time, Part 2, on New Year's Day 2010, and has just completed his first full season with the explosive two-part story, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang.
Earlier this month, it was claimed that Moffat's predecessor, Russell T Davies (Torchwood), had written a script for a full-budget Hollywood-movie version of Doctor Who, and that Johnny Depp had been cast as the Doctor.
Later this year, Smith can be seen playing Christopher Isherwood, in Christopher and His Kind, alongside Douglas Booth. Booth, 17, received rave reviews earlier this year for his portrayal of Boy George in About a Boy.
As for Who, whether or not Smith will bow out next year, or whether he will be the one to play the Doctor in any film version of the show, only Time will tell.