Anyone reading some of the papers and blogs over the weekend could be forgiven for thinking that the choice of the next Doctor was something of a done deal.
The BBC, we learned, had offered the part to 35-year-old actor Rory Kinnear and were “waiting” for a response. Ladbrokes were quick to suspend betting and it was, it seemed, only a matter of time before the public school-educated star was formally handed Matt Smith’s Sonic Screwdriver and installed as the 12th Doctor.
Only, of course, he wasn’t.
Senior BBC sources have spent the best part of the weekend pooh-poohing the claims, which they say are “simply not true”.
Someone in the know tells RadioTimes.com: “We haven’t offered it to anybody. And I think that if the papers were sure of this information they would have put it on the front page and not in a diary column”.
Well, we shall of course see, but for the moment, the next Doctor, I am reliably informed, will be chosen a while from now – with any decision at least a month away. But of course that will not end the speculation, which is reaching fever pitch.
Was the Kinnear story a clever smokescreen designed to distract from what is really going on? That is what some of Kinnear’s friends seem to think.
One of them, Liz Buckley, took to Twitter to make the position clear: “Everything in the papers about Rory Kinnear being asked to be the new Doctor is 100% bollocks, just so you know. He's a bit sick of it."
She added: "He's not been approached & wants the rumour quashed; it's a casting PR smokescreen whilst the show auditions.”
But wouldn‘t this kind of conspiracy be a strange way to behave from a BBC already grown weary with the whole soap opera and keen to keep the process as private as possible?
Also, let us not forget that this is someone’s life and career we're talking about and the BBC drama department are far too professional to play so fast and loose like this. As much as anything else, Kinnear is one of the best young male actors around and they would hardly wish to antagonize him this way. In fact, in some ways, they are the ones being played at the moment.
“To some extent we are flattered as this is clearly the hottest role in TV but it is also quite tiring having to deal with all this speculation,” sighs a weary BBC drama insider.
So it is with some trepidation that we bring yet another rumour, courtesy of Starburst, who have confidently thrown into the ring the names of Domhnall Gleeson (AKA Harry Potter’s Bill Weasley), The Fades actor Daniel Kaluuya and Dominic Cooper (The History Boys and Mamma Mia).
Which is all well and good, except for the fact that any confident predictions fly in the face of assurances from the man in charge that he has no idea who will get the part.
“I haven't a clue who it is, we've barely started,” Steven Moffat was quoted as saying over the weekend, while Jenna-Louise Coleman, who plays the Doctor's companion Clara, said at the formal opening of Broadcasting House by the Queen on Friday: "Everybody else in the building has asked me who the next Doctor is, and I can tell you honestly we don't know. It's going to be a long, long search. But yes, I'm being asked that question a lot."
You better get used to it.