Paying the price to be the Doctor
Doctor Who’s Matt Smith keeps a level head, writes Geoff Shearer
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