Matt Smith to leave ‘Doctor Who’

(CNN) — When you “gotta go, (you) gotta go” – or so said actor Matt Smith as he announced his departure from BBC One’s “Doctor Who” over the weekend.

The Brit actor has starred on the program as the Time Lord since 2010, when he took over for David Tennant, and he’ll officially step away from the role at the end of this year.

“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,” Smith said in a statement to the BBC. “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. … Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, number 11, who I might add is not done yet.”

Smith will return for “Doctor Who’s” 50th anniversary special in November, and he’ll also regenerate once more in this year’s Christmas special.

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Executive producer and writer Steven Moffat commended Smith’s performance in a statement, telling the BBC that “every day, on every episode, in every set of rushes, Matt Smith surprised me. … [E]ven 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,” Moffat said. “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 11.”

Smith was just as grateful for Moffat’s leadership, as having “such varied, funny, mind-bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career,” the 30-year-old said. “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.'”

Of course, now that Smith’s bowing out of the part, the speculation is heating up on who could take his place. The latest set of names to hit the rumor mill include Idris Elba, Helen Mirren and John Hurt.