Him and Her star Russell Tovey and Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint have emerged as the bookies’ early favourites to star in Doctor Who following the news that Matt Smith is leaving the show.

The actor – who is currently playing the 11th incarnation of the Time Lord – revealed on Saturday night that he would be bowing out in this year’s Christmas special – after he has also had a chance to star in the 50th anniversary special in November.

And a William Hill spokesperson has said that Russell Tovey could well find favour among fans given that he has already guest starred in the show – and previously auditioned for the role before it was given to Matt Smith.

“Russell Tovey has already appeared in a couple of episodes and many fans have suggested that he would make a fantastic Doctor,” said the bookmakers’ Rupert Adams.

“We have already seen money for Rupert Grint (aka Ron Weasley) who would also be perfect for the role.

Other names to enter the frame have included David Morrissey, Sherlock star Martin Freeman and James Bond star Ben Whishaw.

Bookies are offering odds of 8-1 on the character being female for the first time ever, with the Doctor’s former companion Billie Piper tipped as a potential contender if that happens.

Details of how Matt Smith – who joined Doctor Who in 2010 – will make his exit and regenerate have not been revealed.

He said it had been ‘an honour’ to play the role and was ‘incredibly proud’ of what he had achieved as the Doctor.