Respectful Insolence

The (real) Next Doctor

Having recently learned that David Tennant plans to give up the TARDIS at the end of the next abbreviated series of Doctor Who (we Yanks tend to be a bit late on the uptake for news like that from across the pond), I just found out who the 11th Doctor will be after Tennant leaves: Matt Smith.

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Forgive me, my UK readers, but before I found the BBC press release, I’d never heard of this guy before. (Of course, I had never really heard of David Tennant before he was chosen and only later realized that he had played Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and he turned out OK, didn’t he?)

One thing that strikes me right off the bat is that he’s very young (26), perhaps too young, in my opinion. Indeed, he’s younger than Peter Davison was (29) when he took over the role. Personally, I like my Doctors to have a bit more age and appearance of experience to them, like John Pertwee–or even Christopher Eccleston. On the plus side, he does have a nicely “alien” look about him, which could be used to good advantage in playing the Doctor. Indeed, his facial bones almost have a David Bowiesque quality to them from back around the time when androgyny and Ziggy Stardust were all the rage. He also has eyes that resemble Peter Davison’s, particularly in this picture. Unfortunately, I have no idea how good an actor he is.

The commentary from the British press summarized here gives me reason for hope, although some wags have suggested that “they couldn’t have played it any safer if they’d just cloned David Tennant and subtracted a decade.” I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, fellow Who fans, what say you?

Comments

  1. #1 DLC
    January 4, 2009

    I have to agree about the older doctors, but I guess they’ll do okay with this one.

  2. #2 techskeptic
    January 4, 2009

    Well my wife (who loves this show as much as I do) just said, “pshhh…they may as well have asked Marylin Manson.”

    It took me a couple of episodes to like david tennant and now I really like him a lot. I hope this guy can do it.

    I guess we’ll see.

  3. #3 Andrew
    January 4, 2009

    Steven Moffat, the new lead writer, said in the show where this was announced that he thinks a good Doctor should be somehow both old and young — he cited Pertwee as one of the oldest ones who still acted quite youthful. With that in mind it sees likely that Smith’s acting has a bit more age to it than his appearance does. That could work really well, especially since the character is centuries old anyway, so by rights even a very old man would be preposterously young to play him.

  4. #4 bse
    January 4, 2009

    I was hanging on to the (pointless) hope of Judi Dench.

  5. #5 PlanetaryGear
    January 4, 2009

    I’m just thrilled that they are continuing the series, they were threatening for a while to just stop. If they can maintain the quality of the writing without throwing out the basic Tennants (HA tennant, get it?!) of the show then I think the new guy will work out.

  6. #6 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    January 4, 2009

    Not Judi Densch — after her foray into 007-land they couldn’t afford her — but I’ve been arguing for Stephanie Cole (WAITING FOR GOD and OPEN ALL HOURS) since they were looking for an 8th Doctor — and for those of you who hated the tv movie that Fox produced, the 8th Doctor actually was used quite well in the books and they give a glimpse of ‘what could have been’ if the Foxdiots had stayed away.

    Another possibility they’ve ignored is using a South Asian actor, possibly someone from Bollywood or Ravi Kapoor (Dr. Mahesh Vijayaraghavensatyanaryanamurthy — better known as “Bugs” — from CROSSING JORDAN).

  7. #7 Paul Hutch
    January 4, 2009

    I thought his performances were fine in the two Masterpiece Theater broadcasts I saw him in with Billie Piper (The Ruby in the Smoke + The Shadow in the North). This gives me hope that I’ll enjoy Matt as The Doctor.

  8. #8 Constance Reader
    January 4, 2009

    I looked him up on IMDB and Smith hasn’t done much work. I was hoping for a black Doctor; even Tennant thinks it’s time. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity, Children of Men, Kinky Boots) would have been a fabulous Doctor!

  9. #9 Paws
    January 4, 2009

    I adored Eccleston as The Doctor, so I was a bit hesitant when Tennant took over – but it didn’t take long for him to show he could hold his own in the role. So I’m willing to give the new guy a chance.

    BTW, I love the idea of a female Doctor! I seem to recall references to not all regenerations being of same gender as the previous one. If they hadn’t already used her in the series, the actress who played the Doctor’s daughter might have been a good choice to replace Tennant. (Although Densch would’ve kicked ass!) And if Time Lords can change gender, why not skin color? (DulĂ© Hill, perhaps?) Just makes sense….

  10. #10 Mike
    January 4, 2009

    We’ll see how this works out. I would like the Doctor to be a little more thoughtful and less manic in this iteration. I had hoped for Thewlis, but Ejiofor is name that hadn’t occured to me. He would have been fantastic!

  11. #11 Eleanor Crowell
    January 4, 2009

    It took me a bit of time to get used to David Tenant as the Dr., but I did and I like him very much. So we’ll just have to see with Matt Smith. I think he was the choice in the hopes of drawing more younger viewers. Bottom line for me, like everyone else, If I don’t like him, I won’t watch.

  12. #12 Cassidy
    January 4, 2009

    Bad Astronomy linked to a YouTube video with some interview clips from Doctor Who Confidential, and I was very encouraged…I could definitely see some Doctor in his mannerisms! I agree that some Doctor-diversity would’ve been nice to see too, but I’m optimistic about Matt.

  13. #13 Bronze Dog
    January 4, 2009

    I’ll have to see how he acts. I’ve only been a Who fan for the new series (really need to go hermit to the old series some day), but I tend to think of The Doctor as being less dependent on appearance and more on how the actor handles the role of being an eccentric time traveler who’s seen just about everything.

  14. #14 Shay
    January 4, 2009

    Ciaran Hinds!

  15. #15 tim gueguen
    January 4, 2009

    Some folks are not amused at the new Doctor. A lot of folks.
    http://www.journalfen.net/community/fandom_wank/1191962.html

  16. #16 Orac
    January 4, 2009

    I’ve been following the show since the 1980s. Every time a new Doctor is chosen, there is always a highly vocal and nasty contingent that hates the choice and is convinced that it will be The End of Doctor Who. I’m not worried.

  17. #17 LC
    January 4, 2009

    I suspect it’s highly unlikely there will ever be another Hartnell/Pertwee aged Doctor. The “squee!” factor gets too many ratings and hence money. Also given that there seems to be very little ‘platonic relationship’ in the TARDIS these days – the idea of an old man (even though the Doc is technically several hundred years old) and young female would create a lot of questions and make a lot of people ill. What will be interesting though is how they handle the new female companions for the show given his young age – pure MILF/Cougar material.

    The Doctor as a female? Won’t happen, especially since they made a big thing they made of Rosy-sue and the Doctor. It is still technically a children’s program so the complexities of such a relationship will cause too much PC nervousness with the management at the BBC.

    And yes while there are the contingents of doomsayers – they were definitely right about Collin Baker – the show never really recovered from that stint.

    My main hope? That Moffat doesn’t go the RTD path of endless reset buttons, endless and farcical parades of daleks and cybers, etc. Oh and bring back the real Master – the dark charm of Delago and not a hyperactive Riddler wannabe.

  18. #18 Alison
    January 4, 2009

    Just finished watching Confidential, and I’m thinking this could work. I certainly will miss David Tennant, though.

  19. #19 The Perky Skeptic
    January 4, 2009

    I liked Tennant, but I still pine for Christopher Eccleston. I’m slow like that. ;) That said, I’m fully aware of my proclivity for liking the old guy better than the new guy, and am thus determined to give the new guy a fair shake.

  20. #20 biopunk
    January 5, 2009

    I never warmed to Eccleston, but this guy has the look of him and Pertwee together, so physically, he works for me. A bit of Davidson in there, too…

    My only worry is what age of companions is he going to have.

  21. #21 Dr Kilovolt
    January 5, 2009

    Let’s not forget that it is the vision and talent of writer/producer Russell T Davies that has made the new incarnation of the series as enjoyable to watch as it has been. Let’s hope that Stephen Moffat is up to the task of replacing him along with young Matt Smith being right for the title role. It would be a pity for such a wonderful show to wain away or jump the shark.

  22. #22 Paul Murray
    January 5, 2009

    Sureley the whole point is that The Doctor gets younger with each regeneration – he is not as immortal as he seems, and the day will come when he has no regenerations left.

    Rather like Piers Anthony’s Father Time in his “Incarnations of Immortality” series.

  23. #23 Orac
    January 5, 2009

    The curious case of Doctor Benjamin Buttons Who?

    Who knew?

  24. #24 Daniel
    January 5, 2009

    They do seem to be playing it safe. He even has a very similar style of dress as compared to Tennant. Granted Eccelston and Tennant werent radically different in terms of wardrobe, but based on the photo there does seem a feeling of lets try to keep it the same. At least Tennant and Eccelston were physically very different looking.

    I was kind of hoping for a somewhat drastic change in wardrobe, something like but not identical to the long scarf worn by Tom Baker. Oh well, let’s hope they don’t try keeping everything the same, and give him some odd personality quirks.

  25. #25 Ranson
    January 6, 2009

    I, for one, liked the psychological quirks of the last two Doctors. Eccleston’s depression at the loss of the Time Lords balanced well with the bubbling anger and barely contained viciousness that occasionally came through with Tennant. Sure, the Doctor had that childish excitement again, but he needed someone in place to check his thirst for vengeance. The established it well, in the transition, by calling him a “no second chances” type.

  26. #26 Metro
    January 6, 2009

    I loved Tennant’s Doctor–Reminded me of Patrick Troughton. Capable of viciousness when needful, but mostly a sunny character.

    Also liked Eccleston. And enjoyed the series enough to have a look at Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor–Brilliant!

    I want the Doctor to go up in age a bit, think Billy Connoly (don’t scream!). But this fellow looks like he can handle the TARDIS for a few seasons.

  27. #27 also alison
    January 7, 2009

    I rather liked the Ecclestone incarnation, but David Tennant grew on me. & Catherine Tate was a good side-kick.

    Speaking of which – you might enjoy this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxB1gB6K-2A

  28. #28 Prudence
    January 7, 2009

    I liked Eccleston, a lot. He was great as Norfolk in Elizabeth (Blanchette version). When I was in London at Xmas, there was gossip about a black Time Lord, and I’d have voted for Idris Elba, an excellent British actor, though maybe out of the Dr Who price range after his turn as Stringer Bell on the Wire.

  29. #29 mandydax
    January 7, 2009

    Well, as happens every time there’s a regeneration, I say, “So who’s this guy? He’ll never replace my Doctor!” My Doctor tends to be the current one of course after a few episodes for me to get used to the new him and for him to get used to the new him. Every Doctor holds a special place in my hearts (which are TARDIS-like in their capacity). The real question is “how will he dress?”

  30. #30 DuWayne
    January 7, 2009

    I’m actually kind of bummed it wasn’t Chiwetel Ejiofor. I loved him in Serenity and think he would have made a wonderful next Doctor. That said, they’d have to screw things up quite a bit to get me to quit. I am absolutely certain that Matt will make a lovely Doctor.

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