Though a built-in end to the role has long been inherent to 'Doctor Who' and its stars, the pain was no less devastating for fans to learn that current series star Matt Smith would depart the role by the end of 2013. Given the 'Doctor Who' shooting schedule, however, and the needed presence of Smith's replacement for the 2013 Christmas special regeneration, the already-underway search may bear fruit as early as next month, says one publication!

According to the Radio Times, Smith's replacement could be announced as early as July, in advance of filming the 2013 Christmas special. The eighth season itself will begin filming in the fall, likely to consist of 12 episodes.

Speculation has long run rampant that the prized role may go to an unorthodox casting for the long-running sci-fi series, either a Doctor of a different race or gender, though the final decision remains up to showrunner Steven Moffat, new BBC head of television Danny Cohen, controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson, casting director Andy Pryor and the show’s incoming executive producer Brian Minchin.

We won't bother to speculate on who might next take the iconic 'Doctor Who' role, as some have even suggested companion Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) could somehow ascend to the position, but what say you? Who would you want to see undertake the famous regeneration sequence when Matt Smith departs 'Doctor Who'?