Matt Smith, aka the 11th Doctor in the British science-fiction television series “Doctor Who,” will be turning over his key to the TARDIS when his character regenerates during the show’s Christmas special in December, the BBC announced Saturday.

During his four-year run in the title role, Smith, 30, became the first Doctor to be nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts, or BAFTA, television award for best actor when he was so honored in 2011.

In the announcement by the Beeb, Smith said: “‘Doctor Who’ has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show. I’m incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day, to realize all the elements of the show and deliver ‘Doctor Who’ to the audience.”

About that audience, Smith added: “Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, Number Eleven, who I might add is not done yet -- I’m back for the 50th anniversary [on Nov. 23] and the Christmas special!”

Steven Moffat, the “Doctor Who” lead writer and executive producer, said of the actor: “Every day, on every episode, in every set of rushes, Matt Smith surprised me: the way he’d turn a line, or spin on his heels, or make something funny, or out of nowhere make me cry, I just never knew what was coming next. The Doctor can be clown and hero, often at the same time, and Matt rose to both challenges magnificently.”

The BBC announcement made no mention of John Hurt, but -- in the wake of his surprise appearance at the conclusion of the recent episode titled “The Name of the Doctor” -- there must be Whovians wondering whether the 73-year-old winner of four BAFTA awards has a future, present or past playing the title role in the time-bending series for a season or two.