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Monday, 17 June 2013

Speculation and the Doctor


The greatest question in the universe,
apparently.
It's hard to believe that it was only a little over two weeks ago that Matt Smith announced that he's leaving Doctor Who at the end of this year, with the Christmas special serving as his Doctor's swan song.  I say it's hard to believe because, since then, there has been more speculation, excitement, misinformation and general internet chaos than one would have imagined was possible in so short a space of time.

To recap, we've had the suggestion that the Doctor might be played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Helen Mirren, John Hurt, Sir. Ian McKellan, Paris Jackson, Miranda Hart, Ben Daniels, Samuel Welsh, Russell Brand and, it's fair to say, many others besides.  On Saturday 8th there was a highly publicised rumour that the BBC would announce the actor to play the new Doctor sometime that evening.  The BBC flatly denied it and, surprisingly enough, there was no announcement.
Rory Kinnear as Tanner in Skyfall.

Then, last Sunday, it suddenly seemed as if there had been an announcement after all, because every news source on the internet seemed to be reporting that the new Doctor would be played by Skyfall actor Rory Kinnear.  Ladbrokes stopped taking bets and that only sent more writers reaching for their pens, or their typewriters or whatever it is they scribe their 'certainties' with.  At least there were a few publications who had the nous to phrase it as rumour or speculation.  Kinnear was said to be 'considering' the role.

But then Kinnear's friend Liz Buckley started tweeting.  (The asterisks are mine).
Everything in the papers about Rory Kinnear being asked to be the new Doctor is 100% b******s, just so you know. He's a bit sick of it.
She even went as far as to suggest that it was all a smokescreen to cover up the real casting process.  Personally, I doubt the BBC would do something so cruel, but whether it was intentional or not, it seemed that the press wouldn't leave Kinnear alone.

After that, further speculation about who the next Doctor might be began to run dry, although that didn't stopped the press from pestering Dominic Cooper ('he's considering it' some say, 'he's not considering it at all' say others) and Domhnall Gleeson since the middle of the week.  Meanwhile news articles about Arthur Darvill's preference for an older Doctor or for Helen Mirren to play the role continue to crop up now and then.  Even as the scene grows quiet, the media cauldron continues to stir and it will go on stirring, I have no doubt, until we have an official announcement.

Why am I going over all this?  Well, you may have noticed that here at Combom we haven't been saying an awful lot about the whole twelfth Doctor debacle.  We looked a little at the early speculation and we considered whether or not we might prefer a unknown actor.  Compared to all I've described above, we've been rather restrained.

Paterson Joseph, who wasn't the Doctor after all.
The reason for this is that, as a team, though we haven't discussed it in any detail, we're not big on speculation.  The last time we were in this position, back in 2008/2009, there was plenty of guessing being done and, right up until the point where Matt Smith was revealed, everyone, this site included, was reporting that Paterson Joseph (Neverwhere, Aeon Flux, uh... Doctor Who) was the favourite to take the role - and statistically he was - with as many claiming that he was definitely going to accept it.

Speculation has a tendency to be a great way to fill column inches and a poor way to waste everybody's time, particularly those, like Kinnear, who end up in the spotlight, but (most likely) without the role to which he's being credited.  That's not something we particularly want to be part of.

So, the lesson from all of this?  I'd say we all need to take the various reports in the press with several large pinches of salt.  By all means, enjoy the circus, but don't be surprised when the star turns out to be someone we haven't even considered yet.

In fact, here's a tip: rather than be surprised, why don't we aim for delighted?

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