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Published on January 6th, 2009 | by Christian Cawley

Matt Smith Reaction

Gawd strewth! Another Smith in the TARDIS! Sarah Jane Smith, Mickey Smith, John Smith and now some relatively unknown youngster called Matt Smith! Whatever next? Delia Smith as the new companion???

I, for one, am happy with the casting of the "relatively unknown 26 year old" (you’ll be hearing that phrase A LOT over the coming days!) – he looks the part and seems genuinely charming with some extremely expressive hands, a quirkiness that can only add to the role. And he has weird hair. If he wears it swept back there would be a definite Hartnell-esque vibe going on.

Anyway, here’s a selection of what the press and other commentators make of the news..

Northants Evening Telegraph (Matt’s local paper, we’re guessing…) has a story about Matt’s parents’ reactions:

Mother Lynne said she was delighted her "little boy" was set to become the youngest actor ever to play The Doctor. She said: "We’re absolutely delighted, it’s just amazing news and we’re so proud. We know he’s going to be amazing in the show."

I can’t help echoing the sentiment of that last sentence. From the little I’ve seen of him I have high hopes!

Entertainment Wise website focuses on Matt’s role in Secret Diary of a Call Girl with accompanying photos of his character in bed with Billie Piper’s character Belle. The last picture of the gallery reminds me of a young Bill Nighy – I wonder if that crossed the minds of the-powers-that-be?

The Stage does the same sort of round up of his short career to date as everyone else above (Ruby in The Smoke, History Boys, The Face, yada yada yada) but there’s also a blog post here that hits the nail on the head regarding "fandom" and how some so-called fans had the claws out straight away -

Of course, within seconds (yes, seconds) the usual narrow-minded, ignorant and sweaty-palmed drivel from the fan message boards erupted across the web. If Smith were to read even a couple of lines of some fairly tedious keyboard dribbling, then he’d probably hand his notice in before he’s even started. It goes with the territory, naturally, but some of the things I read on Sunday morning made me genuinely sad, especially as amongst the bile were some genuinely warm messages of welcome that got lost in the crowd. The thing to remember is that the fans shout the loudest, but it’s the other 10 million audience members that will get your show recommissioned. And therein lies the dichotomy of fandom…

"The usual narrow-minded, ignorant and sweaty-palmed drivel from the fan message boards erupted across the web" indeed. We here at Kasterborous Towers and the members of the Kasterborous forum wish Matt Smith the very best of luck and send our heartfelt congratulations his way.

We are not so narrow minded here as to launch an attack at him and the showrunners for not being/casting the "flavour of the month" actor. If there’s one thing to be learned from the nay-saying knee-jerk reactions to the announcement in 2007 that Catherine Tate would return full time as Donna Noble in S4 for 2008, its that we should never pre-judge a performance we haven’t seen yet.

Wales Online quotes our very own esteemed (sometimes "steamed") editor Christian Cawley (atomickarma) in an article covering positive reactions

Across on the forum hosted by the Kasterborous Online Magazine, atomickarma posted:

“It’s a great piece of casting, you know, and I cannot wait to see what he does with it. His age came as a shock when I first got wind of him this morning, but I’ve eaten my hat, everything else is as it was, so bring it on!”

 Wales Online also covers reactions in a slightly less positive piece here where they quote atomickarma again, but in brief and without a credit. I suspect this version of the article was an earlier attempt garnered from interviewing Joe Public before they found a more positive spin. Or something.

The Grauniad (sorry, I mean "Guardian") covers the initial outburst of bile here quoting various users on the OG and drwho-online forums (I’m sure there were positive comments as well, but, y’know, negativity sells papers…) and they also have a nice photo gallery here. They have an earlier article on the announcement where they quote Sophie Aldred, who played companion "Ace" alongside Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor

 

"I’m delighted. I’m so pleased that they haven’t chosen a big name but gone with someone who’s obviously a good actor but not well known to the public at large.

"He’s got a very interesting face and a fantastic presence. It’s going to be a difficult job to follow David Tennant, but I think he’ll be a safe pair of hands."

The same article gives a positive quote from DWO editor Sebastian Brook, though, so its not all doom and gloom! 

"We think it is a great choice to have someone so young. David Tennant was the most energetic Doctor ever, and you need somebody with youth and energy to take that forward,"

The Telegraph has a good article to introduce Matt Smith citing reviews of how good his stage work is and points out that David Tennant was also a relative unknown to TV audiences when he got called up to the role, having only played in Casanova after cutting his acting teeth on the stage

 

It’s easy to forget that the only major TV David Tennant had done before he became the Doctor was BBC3′s hit-and-miss Casanova…Like Tennant, Smith has already made his name on the stage before becoming the Doctor, even if he hasn’t done much screen work. He had several minor roles, one of which was in Alan Bennett’s National Theatre hit The History Boys.

Then in 2007 came his major breakthrough: the part of a disturbed, abused adolescent in the Royal Court’s play That Face. Smith was "outstanding" according to The Daily Telegraph; "the star of the evening" said The Sunday Times; "virtuoso", "mesmerising", "heart-rending" said three other critics. I saw his performance in That Face and it was devastating.

The article finishes with a rather interesting statement - 

Smith is of the Harry Potter generation and so his Doctor Who may be full of the sense of myth and mystery found in the tales of the boy wizard – one quality that Tennant’s Doctor maybe lacks.

I like that. It would be good to get the sense of myth and mystery back. The mystery that the classic series tried to recapture towards the end of the original run with Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor telling Davros "I am so much more than a Time Lord…"

The Daily Mail quote some unnamed "Whovians" from somewhere on the web in their article

 

Some fans suggested the BBC had chosen an unknown actor to cut down on costs, while others said they wanted to create love interest in the show. ‘They say age is irrelevant so why not cast a 40-year-old?’ one Whovian wrote.

‘Because a 26-year- old will be more marketable and they want to create another tedious love interest, even though the Doctor has never really been into women in that way.’

News also spread around the world via Associated Press and Reuters releases and made its way into various news outlets such as :-

Other sites such as Newsarama.com go into more detail and the news has even registered in China, no less, on The China Post.

Wow! Doctor Who really is a global phenomenon now.

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About the Author

A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




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