'You’re looking after the character and it looks after you, too'
“TO HAVE the privilege of looking after this character for a while is the best thing about it for me. It’s that you’ve been given this very precious thing, and it’s your responsibility to try and keep him aflame until the next person comes along. You’re looking after the character and it looks after you, too.
I loved Chris Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith. All of them I think have been fabulous.
I was always hoping someone would call me and say, ‘What do you think of coming and being in an episode?’ but I never thought they would think of me as Doctor Who.
David did take me for a coffee before it had been announced, and he just pointed out to me that I would become more visible and that my life would change in some way. It adds to the pressure because you’re hugely aware of how well the role has been played by previous incumbents, but at the same time you have a sort of relationship with it that doesn’t have to be acted.
It’s a knowledge and a closeness to it that takes you a long way down the road. You almost instinctively know what it is. You can recognise what it is and what it should be, because it’s in your DNA.
My first proper day was stepping out of the TARDIS into a brand new world, which was exactly what was happening to me. Of course being inside the TARDIS you’re just in a big box, really. It’s not bigger on the inside, it’s just a prop and you’re in there with Jenna (Coleman) and a prop man who you’ve never met before. It was all a bit cosy.
It is frightening because you have to take on the challenge of this role, but at the same time it’s exhilarating because you are getting to step out of the TARDIS as Doctor Who, and that’s an iconic role and a great position to be in.
My relationship with fans, either when I’ve met them or when they’ve written to me, that’s all been wonderful.
It’s a delightful thing when people are pleased to meet Doctor Who, because Doctor Who is far more interesting than I am. The welcome look on people’s faces is because they’re meeting Doctor Who, not me. I know what Doctor Who fans are like because I am a Doctor Who fan myself. They’re good people.” DOCTOR WHO TONIGHT, 7.40PM, ABC