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Will a Time Lady take over the Tardis?

With the 11th Doctor Who quitting the Tardis, fans are debating whether it is time for a woman to step into the well-travelled shoes.

Matt Smith's decision to quit the popular BBC TV series after a 50th anniversary show in November and a Christmas special has sparked speculation of a 21st-century makeover for the doctor.

Bookmaker William Hill was offering odds of 8-1 on the next Doctor Who being a woman, with suggested actresses including Billie Piper, who played the doctor's sidekick Rose Tyler a few years ago, Tilda Swinton and Olivia Colman.

Ladbrokes was offering odds of 20-1 on Helen Mirren taking the role in the series which is broadcast in up to 48 countries.

An editorial in Britain's Times newspaper joined the debate, saying Doctor Who started as an attempt to teach viewers about history and has always been closely connected to big events.

"The shift from male to female authority is difficult in politics and business, but it is surely not beyond the capacity of the Doctor," wrote the Times in an editorial.

Some fans, however, were adamant that a man should fill the role held by William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant.

"Are BBC intent on sacrificing all remaining Doctor Who fans on the altar of political correctness?" tweeted one fan.

But the chance of a female Doctor Who remained a long shot.

William Hill had its joint favourite replacements at 10-1 as Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame and Russell Tovey who appeared in a couple of Doctor Who episodes.

Ladbrokes' favourite at 3-1 was Rory Kinnear, son of Roy Kinnear.