James Nesbitt remains one of the hot favourites to take over from David Tennant as the 11th Dr Who, despite reportedly ruling himself out of the running.
Bookmakers Paddy Power are offering odds of 6-1 on the Murphy’s Law and Cold Feet star to take over the keys of the Tardis in 2010.
Tennant’s decision to end his popular four-year tenure as the Time Lord was announced last night while collecting the Outstanding Drama Performance gong at the National Television Awards last night.
Speaking through a video link, he told viewers: "When Dr Who returns in 2010 it won’t be with me.
"Now don’t make me cry.
“The 2009 shows will be my last playing the doctor.
"I love this show and if I don’t take a deep breath and move on now I never will and you will be wheeling me out of the Tardis in my bathchair.
"It’s been the most brilliant, mad, life-changing time over the last three-and-a-half years but I am not going yet.
“Thank you for watching it, for loving it and for being so enthusiastic about the show."
Other names being mooted include bookies’ favourite Paterson Joseph, who would be the first black doctor, Life On Mars star John Simms and his State of Play co-star David Morrisey. Robert Carlyle and Richard E Grant are other possible contenders.
There had been ongoing speculation that Tennant was planning to move on, but last night’s official announcement has sparked renewed interest in who will replace him.
Nesbitt’s name has often been linked with the role, particularly following his lead in Jekyll, which was written by Dr Who scribe Steven Moffat.
However the Coleraine actor, who was recently back home filming the BBC Iraq war drama Occupation, has reportedly said he is not interested in the high-profile part.
Paterson Joseph has already appeared in two episodes of the show playing Roderick alongside previous doctor, Christopher Eccleston.
Ignored by the bookmakers but another contender that has piqued the fanbase’s interest is Notting Hill star Rhys Ifans.
Nesbitt is one of the most recognised faces on television, starring in Cold Feet, Murphy’s Law, Midnight Man, The Passion, Fairytales and Jekyll in the past 18 months.