Pay­ing the price to be the Doc­tor

Doc­tor Who’s Matt Smith keeps a level head, writes Geoff Shearer

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

HE MIGHT be push­ing the madas-a-hat­ter but­ton, but when it comes to break­fast tea time the lat­est Doc­tor is no mug. ‘‘ Thirty quid for a fried break­fast!’’ Matt Smith screeches down the phone from a ‘‘ very posh ho­tel’’ some­where in London. ‘‘ Can you be­lieve that?’’

We’ve called to chat about the Doc­tor Who Christ­mas Spe­cial and how Smith is keen to ‘‘ em­brace the mad­ness’’ in­her­ent in the Doc­tor and fur­ther ex­plore the role’s ec­cen­tric side. But break­fast has just ar­rived and grabbed his at­ten­tion:

‘‘ Ex­cuse me chew­ing through this,’’ he says.

Af­ter tak­ing over from David Ten­nant this year to be­come the 11th in­car­na­tion of the Doc­tor in the clas­sic and much-loved Bri­tish TV se­ries, Smith has been slowly plug­ging away at mak­ing the role his.

Ten­nant, Smith has ad­mit­ted, pro­vided big shoes to fill, but there are el­e­ments to the Doc­tor Who role he thinks can still be ex­plored.

‘‘ The Doc­tor is quite bonkers. If ever there was a plat­form to be brave and slightly un­hinged, then the Doc­tor is that man.’’

Smith has found him­self thrown into an ex­tremely bright me­dia spot­light and into the in­tri­cate and in­tense world of Doc­tor Who fan­dom. His per­sonal life has never been of more in­ter­est, he ad­mits. Pa­parazzi im­ages sur­faced in June of the shirt­less and pale­skinned 28-year-old and his girl­friend, 21-year-old Bri­tish model Daisy Lowe, frol­ick­ing on a beach in Italy.

‘‘ It’s a prod­uct of mod­ern so­ci­ety, isn’t it?’’ he says about the pho­tos.

‘‘ When you’re in some­thing so high pro­file, the pa­parazzi will in­evitably take pho­tos of you where they can. If it’s all the same to you I’d rather not talk about that (his ro­man­tic life),’’ he says po­litely.

‘‘ Ob­vi­ously you’re more recog­nised where you go but it is im­por­tant to still nip down the street and get a bot­tle of milk. If you get recog­nised, you get recog­nised. Maybe I wear more hoods now; that’s the dif­fer­ence.’’

As to whether he fol­lows what Doc­tor Who fans talk about on­line, Smith is far more clear in his an­swer. ‘‘ No, no, no, ab­so­lutely not. I’ve never been on the in­ter­net and never will look on the in­ter­net,’’ he says.

‘‘ I’m not sure my heart could take it re­ally.’’

But he does un­der­stand why fans are so pas­sion­ate.

‘‘ Firstly it’s about the sto­ries. You hear sto­ries about this mad ad­ven­turer who comes and saves the day with a ket­tle and a ball of string— swoops in and swoops out — so the show has a mythol­ogy and his­tory that has been passed down through gen­er­a­tions.

‘‘ It’s like any­thing sci-fi — the laws of the world are very in­ter­est­ing in Doc­tor Who and they are de­bated. The pas­sion of the fans and the con­stant de­bate that hap­pens on­line is one of the great things about the show. I just don’t get in­volved in the de­bate be­cause, ob­vi­ously, they’re de­bat­ing me half the time.’’

So, about that Christ­mas episode . . .

‘‘ Oh yes, we’re very for­tu­nate to have Kather­ine Jenk­ins and Michael Gam­bon (Harry Pot­ter) in it, which is just a com­plete joy.

‘‘ Kather­ine has the won­der­ful op­er­atic voice and it’s kind of A Christ­mas Carol with a time-trav­el­ling twist,’’ he says. Doc­tor Who Christ­mas Spe­cial, ABC1, Sun­day, 7.30pm

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