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1/03/2009 12:39:00 am - Reported by Chuck Foster

The announcement yesterday of this afternoon's Doctor Who Confidential: The 11th Doctor brings to an end some nine weeks of speculation in the media as to who the next Doctor will be! Throughout those weeks a large number of names have been bandied about, not least in the last month leading up to the broadcast of The Next Doctor on Christmas Day.

Ever since Tom Baker first mentioned the possibility of a woman as his successor, it has arisen whenever casting has been the subject of media attention. In December the debate opened further as UKRC, a group consisting of women working in science, engineering and technology, put forward their view on why the Doctor should be played by a woman. "There is a distinct lack of role models of female scientists in the media and recent research shows that this contributes to the under-representation of women in the field. The UKRC believes that making a high-profile sci-fi character with a following like Doctor Who female would help to raise the profile of women in science and bring the issue of the important contribution women can and should make to science in the public domain." Suggestions from the group included Sandi Toksvig, Alex Kingston, Helen Mirren, Jenny Eclair and Bond girl Olga Kurylenko. (Covered by Telegraph, CBC,Escapist Magazine)

Head writer Russell T Davies threw his own suggestions into the frame at the press screening of The Next Doctor, mentioning actresses Catherine Zeta Jones and Lesley Sharp. (Press Association, Guardian,Telegraph, Western Mail) The Sun suggested Catherine Tate or Meera Syal, and reported an insider as saying:"The BBC really wants to shake things up. There is no reason storyline wise why the Doctor cannot be a woman and from any ethnic background.The Doctor has morphed before and will do so again. To keep the edge they need to change and update the show otherwise there is a danger it will look tired."

Writer Mark Smith, however, was not so convinced: "The problem is every time there's been a change of Doctor since, the idea of a woman has been mooted - even though it is a terrible idea. I mean, why would you bother? Russell T Davies has had success with the Doctor Who revival over the last four years because he understands the concept and has not tinkered with the basics: the character of the Doctor, his relationship with his companion, the Tardis and the baddies. I suspect Russell is just being a little naughty; he remembered Tom Baker's joke and thought it would be a good idea to do it again. We Doctor Who fans do take it all terribly seriously, so he probably could not resist being a bit mischievous."
(Herald)

However, the official BBC press release isn't giving anything away: "... the new Doctor will be giving his or her initial reaction to being the new, 11th incarnation of one of television's most loved characters."

In the lead-up to The Next Doctor, interest inevitably turned to David Morrissey, though he refused to be drawn in the many interviews he undertook in the show publicity. However, since broadcast of the episode the odds on the actor have, unsurprisingly, tailed off.

Meanwhile Paterson Joseph has remained one of the favourites to be the next Doctor since his name was first cited by the BBC's entertainment correspondant Lizo Mzimba back in October, and maintained the top spot throughout December. Rumours were also fuelled by fellow Survivors actor Phillip Rhys making a sly comment during an interview on E24: "Paterson, who is the next ... possibly Doctor Who ...". The actor himself has remained tight-lipped on his possible succession to David Tennant.

The Sun reported on fans of the comic Bill Bailey signing an online petition for the BBC to consider him for the role.

The Daily Record reported an exclusive comment by actor Robert Carlyle about playing the role: "This has followed me for two years. But no one has ever approached me about it and I never wanted to talk about it because you can't talk about another actor's part. I would treat it with respect and regard it properly, but I would have to be approached about it first."

Next up, comedian David Walliams entered the frame, with the Telegraph reporting: "The Little Britain comedian apparently sparked the betting frenzy after admitting he would accept the role if it was offered." The paper reported the odds on the actor dropping to 8-1. However, the actor seemed surprised at the news when questioned about it on ITV1's daytime chat show Loose Women.

Just after Christmas, the Star reported that chatshow host Jonathan Ross was touting his friend Russell Brand for the role on his blog: "He could go back in time and steal Manuel's ansaphone. His companion would have to be a strong woman. Helen Mirren or Germaine Greer or Maggie Smith."

Bringing us up to date, last night saw the odds on who would be the next Doctor fluctuate as further names came into the fray. Online betting companybetfair dropped the odds on actor Ben Whishaw dramatically, closely followed byJack Davenport and Aiden Gillen.

The Mail is backing the favourite, Paterson Joseph, though suggests that former companion Billie Piper is possible. The Sun doesn't think a woman is likely though, citing the ubiquitous insider: "It was thought it might be a bit tricky trying to explain the sex change bit to the kids so the idea has been parked."

The Guardian agrees: "It is understood that those hoping for the first female doctor will be disappointed. Doctor Who's new executive producers, Coupling creator Steven Moffat and BBC Wales head of drama Piers Wenger, are said to have stuck with tradition and cast a man in the role. However, Moffat and Wenger are thought to have steered away from the more obvious names that have been linked to the role."

BBC Breakfast covered the news, with guests Lizo Mzimba and Moray Laing refusing to speculate on air! A filmed report by Mzimba reiterated possibilitiesCatherine Zeta Jones, Russell Tovey, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Paterson Joseph and a new name to the list, Matt Smith. BBC News has also provided a list of possible contenders for the role. And finally, former Doctor Sylvester McCoy spoke on the BBC News channel, saying that he would like to see comedian Billy Connolly playing the role.

All will be revealed tonight, BBC1, 5.35pm!
ODDS FROM BETFAIR, MIDDAY 3RD JANUARY
Paterson Joseph - 31/10
Chiwetel Ejiofor - 22/5
James Nesbitt - 37/5
David Morrissey - 20/1
Billie Piper - 21/1
Aidan Gillen, Sean Pertwee - 24/1
Jack Davenport - 25/1
Ben Wishaw, Rhys Ifans, Robert Carlyle - 29/1
Colin Salmon - 43/1
Russell Tovey - 47/1
Alan Davies, Jennifer Saunders - 49/1
Richard E Grant - 54/1
John Simm - 59/1
Catherine Tate - 64/1
Richard Coyle - 79/1
Paul McGann, Jason Statham, Rowan Atkinson, Daniel Radcliffe, Stephen Fry - 99/1