All bets are off! Bookies are FORCED to halt punters betting on Kris Marshall taking over from Peter Capaldi as the next Doctor Who because of huge number of people backing him
Since Peter Capaldi announced last month that he was stepping down as the current Doctor Who, the rumour mill has been spinning about who will fill his shoes.
And despite initial titterings that it would be former My Family actor Kris Marshall, fans turned their speculation back to female replacements - namely Tilda Swinton and Olivia Colman.
But things have turned around, once more, as Marshall - who coincidentally quit his role on Death In Paradise around the time the Doctor Who news broke - has overtaken the ladies in the betting stakes.
All bets are off! Bookies are FORCED to halt punters betting on Kris Marshall taking over from Peter Capaldi as the next Doctor Who thanks to the huge number of people backing him
In fact, so convinced are those placing their bets, that Ladbrokes have had to close the book.
Alex Donohue, of the betting organisation, said: 'A surge of punters have backed Marshall so we’ve had no choice but to close the book.'
He added, with a jaunty nod to the sci-fi series: 'If he does get the gig, the bookies will be exterminated first.'
Marshall said that he is leaving his long-running series Death In Paradise after four years on the BBC show, so that he can spend less time away from his family.
Time to go: Peter Capaldi announced his decision to quit as the twelfth Doctor on Monday night
And almost immediately, speculation began to spin on social media as to the real reasons behind the decision.
Avid BBC viewers seemed to immediately conclude that Marshall is transferring his skills as a Detective to a Doctor - and is in the running to play Doctor Who in the wake of Capaldi.
'Maybe a coincidence but since Doctor Who needs a new lead, interesting that that Kris Marshall has now quit Death in Paradise. New doctor?' came a theory from one fan on Twitter.
Another typed 'Kris marshall should play doctor who...' as a further tweeter concurred: 'Kris Marshall will be the 13th Doctor. Calling it. He'd be perfect. #doctorwho!'
The theory proved popular as the news spread that Marshall is leaving the role of Detective Inspector Humphrey Goodman.
Speculation: Avid BBC viewers seem to be under the impression that Marshall is transferring his skills as a Detective to a Doctor - and is in the running to play Doctor Who in the wake of Peter Capaldi's decision to leave
'So Kris Marshall leaves #DeathInParadise, just as they're starting to look for a new #DoctorWho... #Coincidence...?? ;-)' a fourth person theorised.
'Huh so Kris Marshall leaves Death in Paradise around the same time Peter Capaldi leaves Doctor Who. Hmm, interesting...' a fifth wrote.
Some didn't seem too keen on the idea.
'If Kris Marshall is the new #DoctorWho they might as well cast a toilet brush. Dull,' a fan seethed.
The 43-year-old actor - whose big break came in the form of BBC sitcom My Family - revealed on Thursday's episode of Good Morning Britain that the decision was made in order to spend more time with his family after his daughter was born last year, leaving him 'bereft' while away filming in the Caribbean.
Pastures Who? Kris said of the decision to quit - 'I've loved it. It's time to move on and give someone else some sun. I'm still thinking whether I've made the right decision'
It has been confirmed that after he departs the show, he will be replaced by Father Ted funnyman Ardal O'Hanlan, who will play Detective Inspector Jack Mooney, a role he debuts in Thursday night's episode of the show.
Kris said of the decision to quit: 'I've loved it. It's time to move on and give someone else some sun. I'm still thinking whether I've made the right decision.
'It is amazing and I've been filming in London since and there's a moment when you stand in the cold and think why am I not in flips flops in the Caribbean?'
He admitted he struggled being away from his family for filming, saying: 'For the last few years I have been able to take them with me but we had a daughter and this last series I did on my own. Skyping leaves me bereft.'
She's the favourite: Olivia Colman has become a hot bet among punters hoping to predict the new Doctor
And while playing The Doctor would certainly keep him closer to home, he's not the only name floating around for the role.
Olivia Colman, who recently received an Emmy award nomination for her role in The Night Manager, has even been tipped for the job by her Broadchurch co-star David Tennant who played the tenth Doctor.
'Olivia would clearly be a magnificent choice. If you have the right people telling the right stories then it’s absolutely a possibility,' he said.
Other favourites with punters include Broadchurch actor Andrew Buchan, Game Of Thrones star Iwan Rheon, James Bond's Q Ben Whishaw and and The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade.
Capaldi himself joined in the name-dropping for the next Time Lord - and is giving his backing to Rising Damp veteran Frances de la Tour.
Bizarrely, she was considered to be the first female Doctor in the 1980s, when producers were desperate to change the sex of the time-travelling alien in a bid to keep it on the air - but it was cancelled, only to return again in 2005.
Rising dame? Exiting Doctor Who Peter Capaldi has joined in the name-dropping for the next Time Lord - and he wants a woman to take over from him, Rising Damp star Frances de la Tour
Announcing his decision to step down from his Time Lord role, Peter said: 'This'll be the end for me. I feel sad. I love Doctor Who. It's a fantastic programme to work on.'
'It's been a huge pleasure to work with... a family. I can't praise the people I work with more highly.
'I've never worked the same job for three years, and I feel like now is the right time to move on. I'll still be the Doctor for a while.'
Twelve actors have played the time-travelling Doctor since William Hartnell first adopted the role in 1963, and so far all of them have been men.
Billie Piper, who played the Doctor's assistant when the show was brought back in 2005, tweeted that it would be a 'welcome turn' for a woman to take the role.
Other choices: Bookmakers suggest that likely replacements include James Bond star Ben Whishaw (left) and The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade (right)
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