Don't you just love it? The reactions from the "not-we" (and bonus points for any New Who fan who gets that reference) towards fans who show any kind of emotion about an upcoming regeneration vary wildly from vaguely sympathetic to eye-rolling disdain. They just don't get the emotional investment that most fans have in "Doctor Who" - yet, if it was football and your team got relegated then the understanding is suddenly there. Ditto a popular band splitting up - there are even helplines to get fans through it (which is beyond all sense to me). If you're a "Doctor Who" fan however, odds are that you'll get told that "he's only leaving Doctor Who...you'll see him in other stuff". Yes - we know. But that's not the point. That's not the point at all.
They just don't see that it's not the actor we're mourning. Matt Smith is a terrific actor. He will go on to bigger and better things - there's no doubt about that. We'll be seeing a lot more of him on our screens. We thank him greatly for what he's brought to the show, will support him in all future endeavours and, basically, love him to bits. But. We are NOT mourning his loss - we're upset that he won't be with the show anymore but we're actually pre-mourning the loss of Eleven. I say "pre-mourning" because he's not gone yet - we still have the 50th Anniversary and Christmas Specials to go so we're in a weird kind of limbo...a waiting zone where we can't move forward. We're stuck in a long drawn out grieving process where we can't actually take the next step until that regeneration has happened on screen. A lot will obviously depend on how emotionally invested you are in the show - and how attached you are in particular to the Eleventh Doctor.
Speaking personally, I'm very attached to Eleven. I mentioned in a previous article why I consider him my Doctor and, as my previous Doctor was the Fourth then it's been a long time since I experienced the pain of MY Doctor regenerating. It hits you at odd times - you hear a song on the radio or, in my case, see a bag of "bow tie" pasta and instantly get teary. And that's fine - there's nothing wrong with that. The realisation that, after Christmas, there will be no more "bow ties are cool"; no more fish fingers and custard; no more "Geronimo"; no more Eleven speeches where you can see 900 years of pain in those young yet old eyes, is hard. It's very hard but you'll accept it. You'll get less emotional...you may get involved in the Twelfth Doctor speculation... and you may well get complacent and think everything is fine. Then - as the Christmas Special gets closer and closer, it will all start to sneak back in. You don't want to lose him and, if you're anything like me, you'll watch that Christmas Special with your emotions all over the place and I have absolutely no doubt that I will end up a complete sobbing mess when Eleven regenerates.
It's all part of the process of being a fan - and you can try to explain this to the "not-we" until you're blue in the face and most simply won't understand. No other fandom goes through this - hey, we're special - so I guess it's hard to relate sometimes. Just nod your head, accept the sympathy and try to restrain yourself from bitch-slapping the ones who treat you with contempt. It's their loss. They don't have this in their life - they don't get to experience the highs and lows that we do. Ours is a special kind of fandom.
However. There's another small matter that needs to be said. The Twelfth Doctor will come rolling in - he'll be different to Eleven - possibly even radically different - but he's still the Doctor. Remember the hate, Smithers fans? Remember what Matt had to contend with when he took on the role of Eleven? Don't perpetuate the hate. Don't get dragged down to the level of that small, vocal section of David Tennant fans who refuse to accept anyone else in the role of the Doctor and will lash out at anyone who dares disagree.
We are Matt Smith fans. We are Eleventh Doctor fans. And more importantly, we are Doctor Who fans - and we are a damn sight better than that.