Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Eleventh Doctor: Matt Smith

On the 50th anniversary of the first episode of Doctor Who, Melissa Smith argues that Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor is the greatest.

Coming from someone who has had a cardboard cut-out of the eleventh Doctor residing peacefully in their room for some years now, it is perhaps unsurprising that I have chosen Matt Smith as my Doctor of choice.

Upon his arrival on our screens in 2009, differences could immediately be noticed between him and any other actor to play the part beforehand. Aside from the obvious difference in physical appearance, Matt was also the youngest actor ever to have his hands on the prized role. At a mere 26 years of age, this relatively inexperienced young man was soon to be handed the keys to the little blue box that would change his life, and indeed others’, forever.

The waiting audience were understandably apprehensive about his performance after the excellent (if I may say so myself) portrayal of the role by David Tennant, his predecessor. I have to admit that even I, an open-minded sort, felt that little could live up to the long, converse-yielding reign of the last few series. However, it didn’t take long for him to prove me wrong.

From the start, the energy with which he performed the role was contagious. It soon became obvious why Moffat and his team had chosen him for the part; Matt was bringing a side to the Doctor that we hadn’t seen before, or at least a side that had never before been explicitly embraced. His youth allowed him to explore all of the Doctor’s childish eccentricities with ease, from the famous experiment with fish fingers and custard, to his genuine and ever-present fascination and enthusiasm for the human world.

Matt, like David before him, became a canvas for a variety of companions to paint on. I have yet to make up my mind on Jenna-Louise Coleman, but the chemistry between the Doctor, Amy and Rory was undeniable. The introduction of a second companion (as opposed to just Amy alone) allowed the development of several storylines that would otherwise not have been possible with a solo companion. Whilst many of us may have secretly wished that Rory had been truly deleted from time when it was thought that he had, his character did provide a welcome stability for the other two nearer the end of their time together. Besides, this is Doctor Who and a plot line wouldn’t be a plot line without some sort of whopping-great hole.

This leads me on to my personal favourite episode of Matt’s, The Big Bang. The second half of a wonderfully mad two-part series finale, this episode really did characterise for me the essence of the show, and of Matt’s character in particular. There were Romans, giant metal boxes, and most importantly of course, a fez. All of these elements, plus a sprinkling of ‘timey-wimey stuff’, combined to produce what is for me, the highlight of Matt’s career as the Tardis-conductor in chief.

I admit, there have been times over the last few years where the show has disappointed me (see my article on the beginning of series 7), but not once has that concern been directed towards the actors themselves, merely at the somewhat disastrously written episodes that have emerged (Dinosaurs on a Spaceship anyone?). Throughout the best and worst of the 42 episodes he has appeared in, Matt Smith has been the one thing keeping me going; without his unadulterated enthusiasm for the role I might have given up entirely on what has been a favourite show of mine for many years. I can safely say that if it wasn’t for him, the buzz of the sonic screwdriver might be a distant memory. He has kept my childhood passions alive, and for that I am forever grateful. I wish him well in his future projects and look forward to seeing his incredible theatrical versatility elsewhere.

See also: Louisa Dassow's profile of the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant); Tim Bustin's profile of the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston); Ruth Richmond's profile of
the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker); James Burkinshaw's profile of the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton); meanwhile, Mark Richardson sees parallels between the Doctor and JFK.

1 comment:

  1. william reynolds7 January 2014 at 15:16

    I agree with you, the fact that matt smith is younger than other doctors means he brings the character alive for the younger audience. where in some cases in real life, a character like this would be frowned apon I believe it is perfect for this role.
    will reynolds


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