Who dares wins

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TELEVISION - AN­DREW FEN­TON DR WHO, ABC1, Satur­day, 7.30pm

THERE are many ben­e­fits to play­ing the ti­tle role in Doc­tor Who, the most suc­cess­ful sci­ence fic­tion pro­gram of all time.

At just 29, Matt Smith has al­ready been im­mor­talised as one of the faces of an iconic se­ries span­ning half a cen­tury. He’s a hero to mil­lions of fans around the globe and he’s had the op­por­tu­nity to spend count­less hours on set with ev­ery geek’s fan­tasy woman Karen Gil­lan, who plays Amy Pond.

But there are a few draw­backs too. Some of the more ex­cited fans can get a lit­tle car­ried away.

‘‘ It can be quite bizarre when you’ve got one fol­low­ing you to the toi­let and ask­ing you to speak to their girl­friend, which has hap­pened while I’m hav­ing a wee – lit­er­ally mid wee!’’ laughs Smith.

He’s had bet­ter luck than some – seventh Doc­tor Sylvester McCoy said a few years ago af­ter meet­ing him at a Who- themed cruise, one fan threat­ened sui­cide. For­tu­nately McCoy’s wife talked her out of it.

Smith is on the line from Wales where he’s been film­ing the eighth episode of se­ries seven. He’s in a cheer­ful mood con­sid­er­ing pro­duc­tion has been go­ing on for seven months now and there’s still three months left in the sched­ule.

‘‘ It is quite gru­elling,’’ he ad­mits. ‘‘ It’s ex­cit­ing, but make not bones about it, it’s hard work.’’

Smith had barely made an im­pres­sion as an ac­tor when he was cho­sen to re­place David Ten­nant in Jan­uary 2009 – so much so, his name wasn’t even cited as a pos­si­bil­ity un­til the day be­fore it was an­nounced.

The youngest ac­tor to ever play the part, his ear­lier ca­reer had in­cluded some suc­cess­ful stage turns, a few mi­nor TV roles, and one role of note as a young pol­i­tics nerd in the ac­claimed 2007 BBC mini se­ries Party An­i­mals.

From Smith’s de­but as the Doc­tor, his companions have been Amy ( Gil­lan) and Rory ( Arthur Darvill), but they’re due to bow out in what showrun­ner Steven Mof­fat de­scribes as a ‘‘ tragedy’’ in the ‘‘ heart­break­ing’’ fifth episode ( to air here on Oc­to­ber 6 or a week ear­lier on iview).

On the up­side the episode was shot in New York and fea­tures the reap­pear­ance of those creepy Weep­ing An­gels stat­ues.

His new com­pan­ion Jenna- Louise Cole­man ( Em­merdale) has al­ready made a sur­prise ap­pear­ance this sea­son as a Dalek.

Gil­lan has re­vealed she wept for two weeks while film­ing the episode in April and Smith says it’s sad to see them go.

‘‘ Yeah, she was up­set, but you’re al­ways go­ing to be,’’ he says. ‘‘ It’s been such a huge part of our lives and we’ve had such a won­der­ful time mak­ing it so it’s go­ing to be up­set­ting when even­tu­ally the day comes when you’ve got to leave.’’

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