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Matt Smith (Doctor Who) Interview

Q: How would you describe the character of Doctor Who?

A: He’s very honest. He’s not afraid to be himself or to offend anyone – which is liberating and quite endearing. He’s never underhand – just a bit mad. I want to embrace the madness and push it further!  

Q: What are his other essential characteristics?

A: He's also really brave – I find his courage very admirable. Children love him, of course. But adults also respond very positively to him because that sense of childlike wonder is so alive in the Doctor. Through him, I've learnt to live life in the present. 

Q: Is he a bit of an adrenaline junkie, too?

A: Yes. He lives for adventures – he's the ultimate thrill-seeker. Does he have a hyperactivity disorder? Perhaps! Often he makes an apparently selfish choice to leave someone behind or let a race die out, but it's always for the greater good. He's always pulling strings to help people. In his two hearts, there is an inherent goodness. 

Q: Why do you think Doctor Who is still such a popular show?

A: The show remains so well loved and has such longevity because it has the best ever TV drama format. It is not bound by anything. It is not limited by space, time or genre. It can tell any story in any way. The Doctor can be reinvented in any way you like. Anything goes. No other character in TV history has been played by eleven different actors. Everyone wants to see this charismatic, alien, bonkers professor turn up and save the day. We’ll never tire of that. 

Q: Tell us more about the show’s unique format.

A: The format gives you such variety. One week on Doctor Who, you can have a horror movie, and the next a rom-com. It allows you to play with different forms of storytelling. The show can also change with the times. All the best storytelling reflects the issues of the day. So Doctor Who now references the world of 2011. 

Q: How do you get on with Karen Gillan, who plays the Doctor's companion, Amy?

A: I'm very, very fond of Karen. She is a really good pal. Whatever chemistry we have is translated directly to the screen. The relationship between the Doctor and Amy is very successful – and we owe that to Steven Moffat and the way he set it up. Because the Doctor first met Amy when she was a little girl, the audience was immediately invested in her. 

Q: There is a huge reveal about Amy in episode seven of this series. How does that affect the Doctor?

A: It has a massive impact on the Doctor. It fundamentally challenges his relationship with Amy. He's put in a situation where he has to make some very difficult choices. It forces all these dramatic things into question. His loyalty and his intelligence are put under the severest strain. It's a real dum-dum-dum moment. 

Q: Who are your favourite monsters in this latest series?

A: It has to be The Silence. They are the best monsters since the Weeping Angels – there are certainly some of the scariest. What is wonderful is that they toy with your psyche. They mess with what you know and don't know and what you can and can't remember - they can influence your mind. They look horrendous and are really mean. So if you're under the age of ten, a good sofa to hide behind is essential. That's what Doctor Who should be about: I don't want to watch this, but also I do!

Q: Which other episodes should we look out for in this series?

A: The pirates episode is wonderful. It's this great big ravishing romp with all the swashbuckling you could ever want. It features great performances from Hugh Bonneville and Lily Cole. I even enjoyed getting wet till 4.30 in the morning! As the Doctor, you have to have a degree of enthusiasm about everything you do. If you're miserable, that comes across. 

Q: How do you react if you get recognised?

A: When I meet people, I always try to be as polite and grateful and graceful as I can. I hope I remember to keep my feet on the ground. I have great family and friends around me. They’d bring me back down to earth if I ever did try to become too high and mighty! 

Q: Why do you think you attract such a lot of attention?

A: It’s all about the part – it’s nothing to me. People feel very affectionate towards the programme because it has such a heritage in our culture. When children come up and ask me, ‘What’s your favourite monster?’, you see how they’d be if the actual Doctor turned up in the Tardis on their doorstep. If you’re ten and Doctor Who seems impatient with you, that’s going to be rubbish, so I always try to be patient. 

Q: Did you receive any advice from your predecessor in the role, David Tennant?

A: Yes. I talked to David when I got the part. He’s a lovely bloke and said to me, ‘If you ever need to talk about anything, just give me a buzz’. But it has to be your own journey. I don’t want to be bugging David by phoning him and saying, ‘Can I talk to you about what just happened in Tesco?’ You have to learn these things for yourself. 

Q: Do you think viewers will ever get bored with Doctor Who?

A: No. People will always want to watch the adventures of a mad buffoon who saves the day on a shoestring! He is able to make you laugh and cry at the same time.

Q: Finally, do you love every aspect of portraying one of the most popular characters in British TV history?

A: Absolutely! We work very long hours every day for nine months. The schedule is pretty brutal, but I'd never complain about it. I love playing this role, and I don't want to give it up any time soon. I feel very lucky that I have this wonderful part and a great creative life. In the current climate for actors, I’d never say, ‘This is too much’ - quite the opposite, in fact. I’d say, ‘Bring it on!’




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