Cardinal Who?

Cardinal Who?

Is there time for a last-minute bet?

“He has made the role his own – never aspired to be the heavyweight that his predecessor was, but proved amiable and popular with many. It must be difficult for him to watch someone else take on that particular mantle, and the weight of expectation that comes with it, but he made the right choice in stepping aside. The millions of British followers will be eagerly anticipating today’s announcement. If it were a democratic choice, this would be a good deal simpler to predict, but instead the decision will be made by those in the seats of power, and no-one knows upon whom they have decided.”

A friend once remarked that you could divide people into those who, when you mentioned Homer, thought of the Iliad versus those who thought of the Simpsons. Similarly, the imagined quote above could apply equally to Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor or to David Tennant, depending on what sort of person you are. Today is certainly the day that the new Doctor will be announced, with Executive Producers Piers Wenger and Stephen Moffat revealing the decision on big screens around the UK at 17:35 during the special episode ‘Doctor Who Confidential’.

Russel T Davies, the writer who brought Doctor Who back to our screens, had spoken in favour of appointing the first black Doctor, reflected in the Betfair market that has Patterson Joseph and Chiwetel Ejiofor both in the top-three according to punters on the betting exchange (Matt Smith being the third). Other names mentioned have included James Nesbitt, John Barrowman, and Daniel Radcliffe.

Rumour has it that today might also see the Vatican announce who will be made the next Cardinal-Archbishop of Westminster, and a story in yesterday’s Daily Mail indicated that Dom Hugh Gilbert (an Anglican convert) had refused the job given the difficulty in managing recent events at his Monastery.

My first ever article was on the next Archbishop market at Paddy Power, and my tips were a mixed bag. George Cardinal Pell has had a role in the selection, but is not to be chosen. Michael Fitzgerald never came close, but Timothy Radcliffe has remained at fourth favourite, in spite of his perceived liberalism. Peter Smith, Archibishop of Cardiff I tipped at 16-1, and he is now 5-2 second favourite at time of writing. The favourite Vince Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, has drifted to 2-1, with Dom Hugh Gilbert still third favourite at 3-1 at time of writing. 

Personally, I wonder if collaboration to fill these vacancies might have given a yet more exciting market. If Archbishop Smith is passed over for Westminster, he is only round the corner from the set of the TV series which is filmed in the Welsh capital. Similarly, having played the Jesuit Fr Rothschild in Bright Young Things and voicing John the Baptist, I could rather imagine Richard E Grant (a long shot to be the next Time Lord) taking the red hat. Furthermore, it is readily acknowledged, even by his most ardent supporters, that perhaps the most dangerous place in Christendom is between Archbishop of Birmingham and a television camera.

Sadly I suspect that those two venerable institutions, the BBC and the Roman Catholic Church, will give their respective vacancies to predictable insiders. Even so, this could still be an exciting day of betting. Ben Wishaw is my outside tip for the Doctor (Alan Davies at 30.0 seems too long odds), and Dom Hugh Gilbert must surely be shorter than 3-1 if he is the Pope’s first choice (refusing is part of the process). Good luck!


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