Everyone's already been on Twitter pushing their faves, which of course merely shows off that particular person's geek leanings. But this is Serious Business, much in the way that getting a replacement James Bond is Serious Business (once they found an actor to play Spock in Zachary Quinto, doing a reboot of Star Trek was easy-peasy: finding an actress to fill out the costume for Wonder Woman after Lynda Carter... /headdesk). There are rules to consider:
1) The next Doctor has to be British, or at least United Kingdom (Scots, Irish, Welsh). They could go with Canadian or Australian or other Commonwealth if they could, but this is the UK's primary contribution to global geekdom. It's gotta use home-grown talent.
2) The next Doctor to be younger or as young as Matt Smith now. The producers are clearly thinking long-term: once a Doctor always a Doctor (even Chris Eccleston has learned that), and they're gonna want to have someone filling the role of Number Twelve for a good 40-50 years. There's also a bit of archetype at play: The Doctor as a secular variation of Merlin/Wandering Jew, with the idea that such immortals age backward, meaning the older the Doctor really is the younger he's going to look.
3) Here's the variation: The Doctor's Wife introduction of The Corsair makes gender-crossing Time Lord a canonical fact. Which means a woman / actress can be hired for the role. So this is more up for grabs than anyone realizes.
That said, here's my list of Who To Be Who:
Matthew Lewis (formerly Neville Longbottom):
PRO: familiar to geeks, already has established fanbase of geekgirls; relatively young enough to fit the producers' needs
CON: already tied into a massive UK geek franchise with Harry Potter, he may not be interested in getting further embroiled into the geekdom's dark side of nitpicking.
Evanna Lynch (formerly Luna Lovegood):
PRO: England's answer to Summer Glau (minus the ass-kicking); also a known quantity with geeks from the Potter Verse; of actresses "qualified" to be quirky enough to play The Doctor, she's on the short list.
CON: Like Lewis, may be content with being a major star in other established franchise.
PRO: established television actor, well-respected, has huge geek cred (from, of all things, The Wire); there's been a clamor for a non-white Doctor for some time, and he's current on the Hot List.
CON: Is 40ish, on the wrong side of the age scale that producers might be looking for.
Helena Bonham Carter:
PRO: Geeks would die of geekgasm the second her name gets announced. Which might be a CON since, you know, you've killed off your fanbase. Has a knack for playing off-kilter, quirky, incredibly cool characters.
CON: Same problem as Elba, on the wrong side of the age scale; demand for her to star in movies and other time-consuming activities may make her unavailable anywho.
PRO: Already played The Doctor (kinda) in a Christmas special with David Tennant; fans liked the performance and wouldn't mind him as a real Doctor; has expressed interest; depends on when he needs to finish up filming for Walking Dead series (his character is due to die soon, but filming schedule is a tricky thing).
CON: Wrong side of age scale (late 40s)
Neve McIntosh (aka Madame Vastra):
PRO: Fans love her performance as Vastra, and some are arguing the Doctor could (in a rather complicated way) merge/regenerate using her as a template; having a non-human Who would be tempting to pull off.
CON: Make-up effects are costly; Vastra is already a cool character to begin with and she, Jenny and Strax deserve their own mini-series spinoff; don't want to confuse new fans with how regeneration works.
PRO: I'm just really keen on seeing a female Who, okay? Browning is a slightly recognizable actress from a few fantasy/horror films (best known for Sucker Punch) but not too well known to be an established quality meaning fans might be intrigued to see what she brings to the role; plus is on the right side of the age scale (24, younger than when Smith took on Eleven).
CON: All depends on her schedule, really; as an Aussie she's not home-grown, but she's Commonwealth and has the accent; I don't see a downside.
Someone We've Never Heard Of:
PRO: Leaves fans guessing how the character will act; unheralded actors come CHEAP.
CON: Gambling big time on a franchise to give it to an unknown quantity; yes it worked well with Smith as Eleven, but you can't stay lucky forever.
If I had my druthers I'd go with Lynch first, Browning second, Lewis third. We'll see if I'm right.
In the meantime, wanna good reason why Doctor Who is such a major force in modern geekhood?
|"You'll Be Safe Here" artwork by Dean Trippe|
The potential. Not just time-travel, or space-travel, but universe-travel... the hopping between 'Verses. ALL 'VERSES.
ALL OF THEM. And there's few things that gets a geek worked up than the idea of all our heroes, in one spot, on one adventure to end all adventures...