Following intense online speculation last night, the BBC officially confirmed that Matt Smith will relinquish the role of the Eleventh Doctor after four years in this year's Christmas special.
The Northampton-born actor said that Doctor Who had been "the most brilliant experience.. and that 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 realise all the elements and deliver Doctor Who to the audience.. I'm proud of what we have achieved over the last four years."
Smith praised Steven Moffat's "mind-bending and brilliant scripts" as "the greatest and most rewarding challenges" of his career. "It's been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven" who "will continue to shape" the programme.
Of the committed Whovians, Smith said: "the fans.. are unlike any other, they dress up, know more about the history of the show and speculate" constantly. Their "dedication is truly remarkable. Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation.. It's been an honour to play the part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS with the ginger, the nose and the impossible one. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls."
Matthew Robert Smith - relatively unknown - was unveiled as the Doctor in a special edition of Doctor Who Confidential in January 2009, and was just 26 years old when cast, making him the youngest ever actor to take the part.
Smith debuted as the new Doctor on New Year's Day 2010, in The End of Time, then embarked on three full seasons as the iconic Time Lord.
The forthcoming 50th anniversary special completed production last month, so Moffat's next script- the Christmas adventure - will be Smith's final story which begins filming in the summer.