The Doctor will see you now

By David Knox on April 16, 2010 / Filed Under News 26

In the season premiere of the new-look Doctor Who, the Time Lord is all but denied his usual bag of tricks. The result is an episode that hones in on establishing the two characters played by Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.

“That’s what makes it so interesting for me,” Smith tells TV Tonight.

“It’s about the meeting of the Doctor and the Companion, which is done in such a magical way. That’s kind of what the episode focuses on, which made it really interesting to play because it’s about relationships, which is really interesting territory for Doctor Who, I think.”

If ever there has been pressure on an actor to live up to the expectations of his predecessor, it is Smith and the Doctor. But he has managed to find a methodology to make the role his own, while still staying faithful to history.

“I read a lot about Albert Einstein. Because I thought of all the human beings in the world, who is closest to the Doctor?” he asks.

“And I remember that picture of him with his tongue out. I spent a lot of time reading quotes and then I wrote some short stories about him and the Doctor travelling around the universe.

“Aside from that like any other process you get the scripts and you try and invest in it as much as you can. You learn the lines, get on the set on the day and be as brave as you can. But with this part particularly it’s a real process of evolution. It took me a month or so to get to know him I think.

“If you look at episodes 12 and 13, it’s a different Doctor to the Doctor you see in episode 1. But that’s the same with all Doctors, actually. If you look at Tom Baker in his first episode to Tom Baker in his ninth episode, he’s a different man. That’s why he’s so rich and so varied, it allows you to keep exploring.”

And then there is the suggestion, prompted by his cameo in the end of the last series, that ‘Geronimo’ will become his catchphrase. But Smith is reluctant to commit.

“‘Geronimo’ is something that this Doctor says, I’ve got to say, but I think if there was more a catchphrase it would more be that bow ties are cool.”

Smith clearly relishes the opportunity Who affords him. It has elevated him from his lead role in Party Animals to bonafide star. With its huge BBC budget, the series lands the best in themes, locations, guest stars and writers.

“We got to go to Croatia to film an episode called ‘Vampires in Venice,’ which was brilliant. And we do an episode with Vincent Van Gogh which is terribly exciting because it’s written by Richard Curtis, who’s a wonderful writer from Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill,” he says.

“The Daleks are always a highlight, and I got to play football in one episode which was just a joy. It was one of my top days filming!”

Having completed all 13 episodes, Smith embarked on a national tour of the UK, which helped him gauge audience reaction. He prefers to rely on first-hand experience than tackling the endless reactions online.

“I have my family and friends, but we’ve been taking it out on this tour around England, and showing it to children and adults. We had overwhelmingly positive results, and there have been some previews, so I’ve got a sense of it. And I have Q & As afterwards so they tell me. There’s always going to be a group of people who won’t like it, but there are people who do like it, and this show will always divide opinion.”

Smith even entertains the idea of a visit to Australia in the near future.

“I’d love to come! I think I might be coming out next year. I might come and hang out in Sydney and Melbourne and do some interviews and stuff and say hello to the people who watch it,” he says.

“I had no idea that they followed it out there, but I’m told there’s a really big following?”

At this point interviewer and subject suddenly switch roles…

“If Chris (Eccleston) or David (Tennant) were in Australia, people would know who they were?”

Absolutely.

“Wow, that’s mad!” he laughs.

I remind him the show has been airing here since the 1960s.

“Of course, so it’s as much your show as it is ours,” he realises. “Have you never thought there might be like an Australian version of the show?”

Ummm, no. We probably love to watch Double-Decker buses, phone booths, cabbies and the London Eye as much as you guys love watching Ramsay Street. It’s escapism, Matt. But it was nice of you to invite Kylie to appear, we’ll settle for that.

“I was talking to the Make-Up Artist and there were pictures of Kylie on the wall and everyone said she was so lovely!” he says. “They couldn’t believe that Kylie was in Doctor Who. It was sort of incredible. Kylie is massive in England. She’s one of our nation’s heroes. People love Kylie Minogue, they really do.”

And I’m guessing by now they probably love Matt Smith too…

Doctor Who airs 7:30pm Sundays on ABC1 and is available on iView from 12am tomorrow.

26 Comments »

  1. steve April 17, 2010 at 3:37 pm -

    Way to go Ben- go on a tipic that you dislike and make a generic comment- maybe you thought you were on the Herald Sun website?
    And, total geek here, time lords have twelve regenerations so even with the aborted David Tennant one there is still one to go…(oh dear, i do need to get a life….)

  2. Paul April 17, 2010 at 11:28 am -

    mushi07:

    Nah, you aren’t sounding like a huge nerd – unless you are and you’re cool with that, and either way it makes no difference to me – but on reflection I think we’re both wrong.

    Tennant’s Doctor had two regenerations instead of the standard one. First go was due to a Dalek shooting him at the end of Series 4, which he partly used to heal himself and stored the rest in his hand in a jar, producing the humanized Tenth Doctor that went off with Rose. The second time is what gave us Matt Smith.

    So the Doctor currently has one regeneration left and then he’s just like everyone else, unless like the Master he is gifted or contrives new ways to exceed the limit.

    It’s only a matter of weeks before that comes up in the series, I expect. Perhaps they’ll address it directly and through some choice or circumstance have him lose the last one so the 11th model is out of them. Again, killing him off for real seems the only trick left in the 2005+ version’s bag, although I shan’t be surprised if a tiresome on-screen wedding is in the cards before very long.

  3. Nathan April 17, 2010 at 11:23 am -

    @Ben, Yeah I don’t like The Biggest Loser or The Pacific but I don’t go around posting negative things in the respective articles. You could give a real reason as to why you don’t like it, instead of saying it sucks. You could say you don’t like the premise, or you don’t like the lead actor, or something intelligent.

  4. mushi07 April 17, 2010 at 9:13 am -

    @paul. at the risk of sounding like a huge nerd, i think you’ll find that the doctor can regenerate 12 times for a total of 13 doctors. So theres still 2 to go before they start thinking about killing him off for good…

  5. Steven April 17, 2010 at 1:50 am -

    If Matt and Karen come to Australia I am going to be so happy and I just saw it on IView Brilliant and I will watch on Sunday

  6. Ben April 16, 2010 at 11:33 pm -

    @Nathan maybe you should check your post before hitting submit and do you only ever comment when you like something? Its OK to give an opinion when it isn’t blindly gushing. Bloody Doctor Who fans your all so defensive, typical sci-fi meekness.

  7. DavidN April 16, 2010 at 7:41 pm -

    Just a note – we do make a sci fi series here and it has a Doctor Who connection!
    ‘K9′ on Network 10 may be a kid’s show but it’s got as many aliens and FX as ‘Who’ – no mean feat making Brisbane look like London!
    Hopefully there’ll be a second series and it’ll give the Beeb a run for its money!

    And Matt is excellent. And Karen?………whew!

  8. Mac April 16, 2010 at 4:06 pm -

    Great interview, David! Thanks! :) I’m liking how this series is looking so far very much.

  9. Kev April 16, 2010 at 3:48 pm -

    @Paul

    I imagine its more expensive to show Dr Who in HD and it may conflict with the BBC HD channel on Foxtel/Austar.

  10. Nathan April 16, 2010 at 3:27 pm -

    @Ben if you dont like it, why did you both commenting on it.

  11. ilis April 16, 2010 at 1:00 pm -

    Awesome interview! I can’t wait for Sunday!

  12. Ben April 16, 2010 at 11:20 am -

    Doctor Who sucks! Enough already.

  13. Madame Tango April 16, 2010 at 11:18 am -

    Lol well the official line is “delivered in SD” so we will have to wait and see!!
    Looks so good in HD though!!
    And Runner you never know although given he is only doing New York and LA in the US I wouldn’t hold your breath (mind you he is only doing those two cities as he has to rush back to the UK for another project – no word on that yet). Would be nice to see him do a more extensive tour – there are huge pockets of Who fans in Brisbane and Adelaide too!!

  14. Paul April 16, 2010 at 11:06 am -

    David: Great! :-)

    Will you do another follow-up on this angle of the ABC’s broadcast of DW, which I seem to recall you did with Waters Of Mars? They can’t have any kind of sensible or compelling reason not to have gotten it in HD. Still, it’d be nice to hear it.

  15. David Knox April 16, 2010 at 10:50 am -

    Paul: I think you’ll find we are agreeing…

  16. Runner April 16, 2010 at 10:43 am -

    Great Interview! He better come to Perth if he comes to Australia!

  17. Paul April 16, 2010 at 10:41 am -

    David: Sure, but it’s in HD. The BBC are making a lot of fuss about it, and the ABC could do with the content, especially something they know people watch. I can’t believe the ABC weren’t aware DW is not available in HD this season or that they weren’t offered it. They simply didn’t think it was worth the buy, and they’re wrong.

  18. David Knox April 16, 2010 at 10:36 am -

    Actually I suspect ABC chose to buy SD from BBC as they have before.

  19. Paul April 16, 2010 at 10:32 am -

    Thanks Madame Tango.

    I guess that was the reason we get the iView screening first, to soften us up for the first full season of new DW shot in HD being transmitted in SD!

    For all the PR they got about the iView premiere, this is the real story.

    Clueless twits, that’s your ABC…

  20. Madame Tango April 16, 2010 at 10:01 am -

    The ep has been delivered to the ABC (by BBC Worldwide) in SD!! Sorry Paul!

  21. Paul April 16, 2010 at 9:40 am -

    Incidentally, does anyone know if the ABC is stiffing us with HD again?

    I’ve seen nothing here or elsewhere to suggest we aren’t going to have to wait for the Blu-Ray again to see it properly…

  22. Paul April 16, 2010 at 9:30 am -

    For an exclusive there’s a heck of a lot that everybody else is carrying. Be that as it may, the notion of an Australian version is amusing.

    We don’t make any SF/Fantasy of our own, and no matter how the figures stack up that this is what people want to see on the small and big screen, neither the commercials nor the ABC seem interested in making it. Whether it was an ongoing serial, a bunch of telemovies or an anthology, it need not cost the Earth.

    Good to know that the visit to the small village in the new series hasn’t made the Doctor forget there’s only two cities in Australia! ;-)

    And for all the talk of the current iteration of DW being the bee’s knees, we are seeing nothing but wall to wall returns of old enemies and characters, and celebrity historical figures. Maybe the people who don’t like it would if it tried to offer up something new, like the best runs of the old series once did. Near as I can see the only thing left for Smith to claim his as own is to get married and die as his is the first that’s out of regenerations. If that brings a rest and retool, good!

  23. Tony April 16, 2010 at 8:39 am -

    Geronimo!

  24. Madame Tango April 16, 2010 at 7:17 am -

    They do love Matt Smith if the Who chatrooms (and my facebook sites) are anything to go by!!
    Great interview – let’s hope he does make it if so (not counting Paul McGann who is still the main Doctor for the Big Finish Recordings and was out here recently) he will be the first reigning doctor to come here since Tom Baker in 1980!!
    It will be interesting to see if Australian audiences take him and Moff’s brilliantly written 11th Doctor to his heart as quickly. I jumped on the Smith bandwagon early (saw Party Animals and I knew) but it has been fascinating to watch many of the previously Tennant-obsessed fans slowly but surely be won over by the man and his ability! Tennant (a card-carrying, anorak-wearing fan) acted like the doctor – Smith just Is the Doctor!!

  25. Neon Kitten April 16, 2010 at 7:11 am -

    It is an absolutely wonderful debut episode for both the new Doctor and the new writer/producer. Just spot-on, with all the excesses of the RTD era cast aside.

    Matt Smith is perfect as the Doctor, which completely, totally took me by surprise. Moffatt getting Richard Curtis to write an episode, that’s excellent.

    Oh, and Karen Gillan. Oh my goodness.

  26. Matthew See April 16, 2010 at 6:05 am -

    “The Doctor will see you now”…..and I am ready to see him.

    A very remarkable interview and very glad that he is enjoying playing the Doctor.

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