When Matt Smith announced two months ago that he’d be leaving Doctor Who, speculation started on who would be next Time Lord to start the next 50 years of the BBC show’s history. On Sunday, that speculation will end, when the next Doctor is revealed. However, this isn’t the first time a new Doctor was introduced on TV.

To some, it maDoctor Who 2013 By be the BBC’s version of that ESPN special three years ago that asked Lebron James if he’s staying in Cleveland or moving somewhere else.

To millions of other fans, it’s a sign that the 50th anniversary celebration of Doctor Who will head into high gear. BBC One and BBC America will air the 30 minute special live at 2 PM Eastern, 11 AM Pacific.  Here’s a look at the trailer…

It will be hosted by Zoe Ball, and will include current Doctor Matt Smith and producer Stephen Moffatt. There’s likely to be a very short preview of the 50th anniversary special that will feature John Hurt as “The Doctor”, David Tennant returning as #10, and several Daleks.

Already there are lots of predictions. A poll in the Telegraph suggests that Ben Whishaw, who starred in The Hour and Skyfall, would be the ideal choice. At 32, he’d also be slightly older. Others predict it will be Peter Capaldi, familiar to fans of the British political comedy, The Thick of It.

The idea of a woman taking over hasn’t been discounted either, ever since Tom Baker announced his retirement in 1980 and said “I wish the new Doctor, whoever he or she is, the very best of luck”. (From Doctor Who: A Celebration, page 163). DoctorWhoTV had a link to a story in the Express last April claiming Lara Pulver, aka Irene Adler in Sherlock, would be a good choice. That story, though, apparently has been deleted. Some Twitterers, though, wouldn’t mind seeing Olivia Williams driving the TARDIS, or even Helen Mirren, especially after Red 2.

Naturally, a betting line has been established, and the full list includes choices ranging from Idris Elba (Luther, Pacific Rim), David Morrissey (who did play “The Next Doctor” in the Christmas episode with Cybermen in 2008), Daniel Radcliffe, Benedict Cumberbatch to Billie Piper (Rose Tyler on the show), and Jason Statham who is at 100 to 1.

This isn’t the first time a new Doctor has been introduced in a special interview. Way back in 1986 I was in San Jose, watching an interview at the PBS station, KTEH. It featured a “live interview” with Sylvester McCoy, who had been chosen to be the Seventh Doctor. Here’s both parts.

Naturally it includes a “pledge break”, since PBS was the only source for Doctor Who. This was a sign that the BBC recognized America as an important audience to keep the Doctor Who franchise alive. There were several conventions that featured cast members, past and present, and San Jose was a popular stop.

Now the announcement of the 12th Doctor has become a worldwide event, thanks to technology and the eternal popularity of one of the greatest science fiction TV shows in history (or, to some, the best). The NFL Draft, Academy Awards and the Heisman Trophy announcement don’t compare to this.

On Sunday, we will meet the next Doctor, and in the words of Tom Baker, whoever he or she is, we wish that person the best of luck.
You can also get a chance to ask the new Doctor a question by visiting this BBC site.

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