Smith will make his final appearance as the time-traveling Time Lord in the upcoming 2013 Christmas special (the show does a Christmas special pretty much every year), after which a new actor will step into the role. That will conclude Smith’s tenure as the 11th Doctor, which started back in 2010.
Here is Smith’s statement about leaving the show:
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 realise 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 show runner 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 11, who I might add is not done yet – I’m back for the 50th anniversary and the Christmas special.
It’s been an honour 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.
Smith follows in the footsteps of his companion Amy Pond (aka Karen Gillan), who left after last season and was replaced by Jenna-Louise Coleman. (Gillan, by the way, is doing just fine for herself, thank you very much, with her biggest role to date in Marvel’s upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy”.)
As to who will be replacing Smith? Well, the BBC and showrunner Steven Moffat have a while yet to figure that one out. The Christmas Special won’t air until, well, this Christmas.