January 5, 2009 / 4:54 AM / 10 years ago

Dr Who? BBC chooses newcomer

LONDON (Reuters) - A relative unknown will take over the title role of Doctor Who in the British science fiction television show, making him the 11th time lord in 45 years to travel across the universe in the Tardis time-ship.

Matt Smith, 26, will make his debut in 2010, replacing David Tennant who leaves at the end of this year. He is the youngest actor to play the part.

The BBC revealed the identity of the new Dr. Who during a special edition of “Doctor Who Confidential” on Saturday.

“I’m just so excited about the journey that is in front of me,” Smith said in a statement.

“The challenge for me is to do justice to the show’s illustrious past, my predecessors and most importantly to those who watch it. I really cannot wait.”

The role was originated in 1963 by William Hartnell. His successors included Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, and Christopher Eccleston.

Lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat said it took a special actor to play the doctor.

“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,” Moffat said. “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.”

Smith has previously appeared on TV, in films and the theater. He is best known for appearing in the BBC adaptation of Phillip Pullman’s “The Ruby In The Smoke.”

Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith and Mike Collett-White

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