INSIDE: Seven days of TV viewing
AS a child, Doctor Who’s leading man Matt Smith was told by his sister if he touched his presents before Christmas Day they would disappear.
He doesn’t remember how old he was, but he does recall spending a watchful Christmas Eve, snatching sleep, then semi- waking to eye a dark form at the end of his bed, resisting the urge to take a peek before dawn.
‘‘ My sister and I always slept in the same room on Christmas Eve and I thought: ‘ I can’t wake up, and if I touch it, it will be gone’, so I just watched it all night until morning,’’ Smith, the 11th doctor on the cult series which, in 2013 celebrates its 50th anniversary, recalls with a laugh.
‘‘ What a wonderful thing that you could actually think that. I didn’t believe it for that long, but it became ingrained – I never peeked.’’
It taught Smith to appreciate the delicious anticipation of waiting for something, no matter how much you want to know what it is.
It’s a reason he loves that details of the annual Doctor Who Christmas
Special are a closely guarded secret. So this year, as Smith appears in his second of the annual specials – a Christmas television tradition in the UK which, for the second year running, is being fast- tracked to Australia to air here on Boxing Day – he’s honouring the Doctor Who tradition of keeping details of the show under wraps.
‘‘ We meet a family who is on the verge of having a terrible and dismal Christmas. By some stroke of Doctor Who genius, he lands upon them and, needless to say, wants to make their Christmas better and take them on an exploration to give them something to remember, but as usual he runs into trouble,’’ Smith says.
‘‘ Steven [ Moffat, Doctor Who’s lead writer and executive producer] has
written a brilliant script. This year has a magic Christmas feel to it.’’
Official details reveal the Doctor finds himself in war- torn England embarking on a magical and mysterious adventure with a young widow and her two children and the guest cast includes Claire Skinner ( Outnumbered) and Bill Bailey ( Black Books).
There’s also a hint that the Time Lord owes the family something, and the Doctor never forgets his debts. Smith says he’s similar in real life. ‘‘ My dad always brought me up that a bet’s a bet. You pay bets early. But as for my gas bill, God knows where it’s at, I just hope for the best.’’
This year has been a huge one for Smith, as he has cemented his regular role as the Doctor, gaining acceptance from fans and critical acclaim.
When he was named the 11th doctor in 2010, the English press headlined the news Doctor Who?, in reference to the then relatively- unknown Smith’s early career.
More than 14 months on, Smith has answered the question with a BAFTA nomination this year for leading actor.
He says the role is the most freeing he has ever played.
‘‘ Every script is like opening a Christmas gift because you are not bound by time or logic or genre or space or any of the normal things you are bound by in normal drama.
‘‘ The doctor has the ability to turn on a sixpence, unlike any other character, with no explanation.
‘‘ I’ve never ever played a character like him. I don’t think I ever will again.’’