Now that Matt Smith has settled into the role of the Eleventh Doctor, itâ€™s hard to think of him playing any other â€œbigâ€ role at the moment. But if you pause for just a second, imagine that things had gone a little differently a few years ago and some different producers had been in charge of BBCâ€™s Sherlock.
Because as Doctor Who and Sherlock Executive Producer Steven Moffat had already cast Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes, the role was still open for an actor to play Doctor John Watson. And along came Matt Smith himself, all wide eyed and excited. Thatâ€™s right, barmy and eccentric Matt wanted to play the role of straight laced John Watson. He didnâ€™t get it (obviously) and according to Steven Moffat, hereâ€™s why:
“He didn’t have a chance in hell of getting it because he was clearly more of a Sherlock Holmes than a Dr Watsonâ€¦there was also something a bit barmy about him – and you don’t actually want that for Dr Watson. You want somebody a bit straighter.â€
Moffat did commend Smith on his audition and how he went about it:
â€œHe gave a very good account of himself and you could feel the effort in him clamping down on his barminess in order to do the audition.”
A few days later Matt was cast as the Eleventh Doctor, so obviously Moffat noticed straight away that he was leading man material.
Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor have always had parallels that have been observed and have even worked together (in the Virgin New Adventure book All Consuming Fire). If youâ€™ve been watching Sherlock on BBC One, you can see how Cumberbatch might have approached the role of the Doctor, had he pursued the part. Reversely, by watching Matt Smith as the Doctor, you can see what he wouldâ€™ve brought to Sherlock.
Now if only they could do a crossoverâ€¦