A 26-year-old relative unknown has been chosen as the next Doctor Who, smashing the hopes of some fans that the 11th incarnation of the TV Time Lord would be an out gay man.

Matt Smith will be the next Doctor, the BBC revealed on Saturday.

He is best-known for his leading role in BBC2 political drama series Party Animals.

Mr Smith will take over from David Tennant who leaves the show at the end of 2009.

The tabloid press have been quick to establish that he has a Brazilian girlfriend and is likely to become a pin-up as the youngest-ever Doctor.

The fifth series will also have a new lead writer and executive producer, replacing Queer As Folk creator Russell T Davies, who brought the Doctor Who format back to life.

In November emails from Mr Davies printed in The Times revealed that he wanted out gay actor Russell Tovey to take on the iconic role.

Mr Tovey, 27, appeared in the show’s 2007 Christmas special, Voyage of the Damned, as Midshipman Frame.

He gained rave reviews for his portryal of Rudge in the stage and film versions of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys and in the Royal National Theatre‚Äôs production of His Dark Materials.

Russell T Davies said Mr Tovey was “going to be huge” and is “amazing.”

Matt Smith will not appear on screen as Doctor Who until 2010.

In 2007 he played Henry in That Face, at the Royal Court and was nominated for an Evening Standard Best Newcomer award.

He also played Guy opposite Christian Slater’s Buddy in Swimming With Sharks on stage in the West End.

He starred alongside Billie Piper in Phillip Pullman’s period detective stories, The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North.

Jay Hunt, Controller of BBC ONE, said:

“Matt Smith will be a mesmerising eleventh Time Lord, true to the spirit of the show.

“He is a worthy successor to David Tennant who has been utterly remarkable in the role and promises to continue in four special episodes.”

The children’s science fiction series was on air from 1963 to 1989, with seven different incarnations of the Doctor, among them Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

Doctor Who was revived in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the eponymous time traveller. He was succeeded by David Tennant after one series.