Bookies have suspended betting on the identity of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who replacement after Peter Capaldi became the runaway favourite for the role.
The 55-year-old – best known for his role as spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It – now has odds of 5-6 with William Hill to be crowned Doctor on Sunday evening.
And those odds leave him well ahead of Black Mirror actor Daniel Rigby – who became an out-of-nowhere second favourite in recent days and is now 3-1 to take on the role.
“We have seen people today trying to back Peter Capaldi as much as possible at every price available and after a small gamble on Daniel Rigby overnight, it seems that Capaldi is once again in line to move into the Tardis,” said the bookies’ spokesperson Joe Crilly.
Others still in the running include Cutting It star Ben Daniels, Sherlock’s Andrew Scott, Homeland’s David Harewood and Skyfall actor Ben Whishaw.
Meanwhile potential female candidates include Jonathan Creek star Sheridan Smith – who has entered the betting as a 20-1 shot – and actress Olivia Colman.
However previous favourite Rory Kinnear now looks less likely to take the role after he signed up to star in ITV drama serial Lucan – which will be filmed at the same time as the Christmas special when the new Doctor first appears.
The newest Time Lord will be unveiled in a special live show on BBC One on Sunday night, presented by Zoe Ball.
The lucky candidate’s identity has been kept such a closely guarded secret that only 10 people are thought to know who it is – while BBC staff are said to have been using the codename ‘Houdini’ when referring to the person in question.
“It’s the biggest secret in showbiz,” said the corporation’s drama controller Ben Stephenson.
“Even those working with the new Doctor on other projects at the moment have no idea they are in the presence of the 12 incarnation.”