Fans loved David Tennant, and for many it was difficult to see anyone replacing him and doing as good a job. We think Mr Smith may even have raised the bar on what is already a role with more acting talent connected to it than the sum total of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
So, without further ado, here are 11 reasons we love Matt as the 11th Doctor:
Nothing could make audiences forget David Tennant, or any of the fantastic actors before him, so Smith took the role and made it his own by adding a sense of nervousness, excitement, and, above all, complete and utter madness to the character.
In the way he moves, the way he looks, the way he dances, you see a zany side to the character which contrasts with Tennant’s at times brooding teenager approach. Turning up at Amy Pond’s wedding suited up with a top hat encapsulates this perfectly and, more recently, having his robotic double speed up the side of The Shard while sitting around drinking tea.
Of course these, like many things, one could argue are a result of excellent writing rather than Smith himself, but you can’t help but think another actor wouldn’t have pulled it off quite as well – Smith is the Doctor.
Dr Smith is always on call
Signing up to be The Doctor is a great responsibility, and not one which Smith takes lightly. Whenever he is out meeting fans at conventions or events, he always speaks to them like the Doctor would, on an equal level, not talking down to children and always clearly caring about what they have to say or ask him.
At his San Diago Comic Con appearance last year, which shows how much he and showrunner Steven Moffat have put the show on the map across the pond (ahem), he beamed with excitement and enthusiasm to be part of something which has so many passionate and dedicated fans, and he clearly wants to exceed their expectations.
Emotional range is a must for any actor, but few characters have the contrast, sometimes mid-sentence, which The Doctor does. Smith shows more wrath and venom in his eyes than any doctor before him when something truly winds him up, but all the while you always know he would never hurt or sacrifice the people he cares about, and he would do anything to rescue them.
A stand-out moment for emotion has to be the Doctor’s death storyline in series 6, which is confusing enough even without time travel, but Smith’s resolve convinces you that this has to happen. You truly believe the fate of the universe comes down to that moment.
Youthful good looks
A lot of fuss was made about the fact that Matt is the youngest actor ever to play Doctor Who, and he is young, but really it’s the way he plays him that makes him so easy to relate to, despite being over 900 (or 1100) years old. The first thing people could remember about him was his distinctive quiff, which suits his doctor perfectly, but the best part is, he isn’t cool or suave or charming – he’s goofy. He might still be a very attractive young man, but his doctor is the geeky, nerdy type who wears braces and a bow tie (but more on that in a minute).
Can you imagine any other Doctor raising as much of a smile as Smith does in The Lodger, which sees him team up with James Cordon to tackle the problem of a spaceship in the upstairs of his house, and his love life of course. The section when the Doctor plays football is hilarious, no doubt helped by Matt’s own aspiration to become a professional in his youth, and the entire ‘odd couple’-esque situation proves to be one of the most entertaining episodes in the series.
“I wear a fez now, fezzes are cool.”
The fez is an often under-appreciated hat and Smith instantly redressed the balance in the climax of his first season by sporting it, and occasionally a mop, to save the world. In reality he only wears it for around 12 minutes of the episode, but that was enough to make it eternally connected to his doctor.
It even started a recurring theme, where Moffat would grace Smith with another ‘cool’ hat, such as a Stetson, before promptly taking it away. Since it is so distinct, it’s also a look which is difficult to pull off, but Smith manages it with ease.
The Doctor’s wife
A bit of a cheat, but Neil Gaiman’s fantastic story about the TARDIS coming to live as a human being was one of the most interesting character episodes of Smith’s journey so far, and so much of that comes down to: “You call me sexy.” “Yes, but only when we’re alone!”
The combination of realising the awkward truth about the Doctor’s relationship with his machine and Smith’s reaction to it make it a moment you can’t help but smile at. It makes the sadness all the harder to bear at the end of the episode when they are separated once again.
Fish fingers and custard
Smith’s introduction as the doctor, complete with – shock-horror – NOT a bow tie (we’re getting there, honest), is the most memorable certainly and modern Who fan, but possibly any fan has come across.
Climbing out of the TARDIS soaking from the swimming pool, the Doctor asks the young Amy Pond (outstandingly performed by Caitlin Blackwood) for increasingly bizarre combinations of food, as his regeneration settles. In the end he decides on fish fingers and custard, causing Who fans around the world to suddenly think “We HAVE to try this.” and promptly put up the results on YouTube. It’s a testament to Smith’s acting skills that he could make such a strong first impression out of what is quite a simple exchange between the two characters. You instantly like him, and that hasn’t let up yet.
The apocalypse speech
Few would dare to taunt the amassed armies of the cosmos into trying to take the Pandorica, but we know The Doctor would. This speech to the heavens, Smith’s first real monologue, is the first time you really see his Doctor with power and confidence, beckoning the masses to stand up against him.
The fact that Matt isn’t physically imposing doesn’t matter (in fact it adds to the effect), as the Doctor’s greatest weapon, other than his sonic screwdriver, is his mind. Smith delivers this speech as a call to arms to all Who fans, and as the music swells you can’t help but feel pride to rally behind the man who dares to stand up and say no to the end of the universe.
Companions are overrated
As much as Amy and Rory are fantastic, and newbie Jenna-Louise Coleman (left) has also made a fantastic start, Smith shines as much when he finds himself unaccompanied for an episode as he does with his companions in tow.
Whether it’s picking up new people just for the episode or truly going it alone, you can’t help but enjoy spending time with the character. While Tennant’s doctor often suffered when he went travelling alone, and Smith’s shares those flaws, he is still a joy to watch due to his slightly bonkers sensibility.
The Daleks are undoubtedly the most iconic villains in Who lore and were re-created in Victory of the Daleks for Smith to have his own ‘look and feel’ to fight against. This led to one of the greatest moments of product placement in anything ever, as The Doctor attempts to convince the Daleks that a Jammie Dodger is, in fact, a TARDIS self-destruct button.
The entire exchange is fantastically written by Mark Gatiss (of Sherlock fame) and effortlessly pulled off by Smith. Facing down creatures which had children hiding behind sofas for decades, Smith reduces them to nothing with merely a buscuit, closing with “Yes, all right it’s a Jammie Dodger, but I was promised tea!”
The bow tie
What more can you say? Bow ties are cool, and if they were ever at risk of not being cool, then surely their place in cool culture is set for a fair old while. Something about Smith’s Who costume suits him down to a T.
He gives the outward impression of a crazy geography teacher, complete with elbow patches, and is immediately a character you feel at ease with. The bow tie is the epitome of Smith’s Doctor, overly fancy, slightly complicated to put together, looks a bit odd and out of place, but as soon as you see it you definitely want one. Long may his reign continue.
Tune in to the next episode – Nightmare in Silver – this Saturday night (that’s 11 May) at 7.00pm. Also, if you are a big Tennant fan, then don’t forget he returns as The Doctor in the 50th Anniversary Special in November.
James Michael Parry