Matt Smith is leaving the "Doctor Who" universe after four years.
BBC and BBC America announced the exit on Saturday. In 2010, the 30-year-old actor was the 11th person to assume the iconic role. He willl be appearing in November's much-anticipated 50th anniversary episode and officially leaving the role (or "regenerating" as the series calls the handoff to a new Doctor) during the annual Christmas special.
Read Smith's statement on his departure below:
'"Doctor Who' has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show. I'm incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day, to realize all the elements of the show and deliver 'Doctor Who' to the audience. Many of them have become good friends and I'm incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years."
Having Steven Moffat as showrunner write such varied, funny, mind-bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career. It's been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven, he's a good friend and will continue to shape a brilliant world for the Doctor.
The fans of 'Doctor Who' around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I've never seen before, your dedication is truly remarkable. Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, number Eleven, who I might add is not done yet, I'm back for the 50th anniversary and the Christmas special!
It's been an honor to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS for a spell with 'the ginger, the nose and the impossible one'. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys. Matt."
Smith has been heralded as one the most popular Doctors of the franchise. He was the first to be nominated for a BAFTA for the role. He also won the Most Popular Male Drama Performance at Britain's National Television Awards last year.
Showrunner Steven Moffat released the following statement on Smith's departure:
"Every day, on every episode, in every set of rushes, Matt Smith surprised me: the way he'd turn a line, or spin on his heels, or make something funny, or out of nowhere make me cry, I just never knew what was coming next. The Doctor can be clown and hero, often at the same time, and Matt rose to both challenges magnificently. And even better than that, given the pressures of this extraordinary show, he is one of the nicest and hardest-working people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Whatever we threw at him – sometimes literally – his behavior was always worthy of the Doctor.
But great actors always know when it's time for the curtain call, so this Christmas prepare for your hearts to break, as we say goodbye to number Eleven. Thank you Matt – bow ties were never cooler.
Of course, this isn't the end of the story, because now the search begins. Somewhere out there right now – all unknowing, just going about their business – is someone who's about to become the Doctor. A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again! After 50 years, that's still so exciting!"
Under Moffat's watch, Smith, the youngest actor to play the character, starred alongside three different companions: Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and this past season's Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman).
The series, which is produced by BBC Cymru Wales production for BBC ONE, also delved much deeper into the personal life of the longtime hero by developing (spoilers!) his relationship to his wife (also, Amy and Rory's daughter), River Song, played by "ER's" Alex Kingston.