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Published on October 10th, 2011 | by Philip Bates

Eleventh Heaven

“Can I have an apple?”

From the second he asked the young Amelia Pond that question, Matt Smith was the Doctor.

No, forget that. He was even brilliant when trying to dodge Big Ben too. I presume Moffat asked himself, ‘how do you show the audience that this is the Doctor?’ And immediately got the answer: ‘Have him pilot the TARDIS… Badly!’

Those first pictures emerged. Matt, Karen Gillan as Amy and Alex Kingston as River Song on a beach. It was exciting, and hinted at something great. Naturally, I first noticed that Karen had legs. Then I saw the first glimpse of the New Doctor. Then that they were all obviously having a good time. Excellent. But…

“This isn’t going to be big on dignity.”

I’ll admit that when I first saw the tweed, the braces and the bow tie, I wasn’t particularly impressed; I didn’t think it was as iconic a motif as, say, a long scarf, stick of celery, converse trainers or a pullover with question marks all over it. And it hinted at a slightly stuffy personality. Even the hair annoyed me.

I am sorry. I have never been so wrong.

Y’see, I hadn’t seen him completely embody the role. The hair, bow tie, tweed, those clunky black boots; Matt simply is the Doctor. And the costume perfectly symbolises his personality.

(It’s also interesting to note that in the first episodes filmed, The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone, all the performances were seamless. If it weren’t for the extra knowledge from Doctor Who Magazine, there’s no way anybody could tell they were new to this Time Lord business.)

“Rory! That’s a relief! I thought I’d burst out of the wrong cake. Again. That reminds me: there’s a girl standing outside in a bikini. Can someone let her in, give her a jumper? Lucy. Lovely girl. Diabetic.”

Doctor Who has never been so consistently good. A notable example of this is season twenty-one, which yo-yoed so much, the viewer got dizzy. The Caves of Androzani was perfect; perhaps a sign that the quality of stories would be forever reaching new plethora of greatness. Then – however much I like Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor – The Twin Dilemma was… let’s say, a letdown (though I have fewer qualms about it than most).

Perhaps this is because of the leading man. Matt Smith is exceptional. I know David Tennant was wonderful, Christopher Eccleston was fantastic, Paul McGann was superb (and so on), but Matt… There’s just something so Doctor-y about him.

But he’s not just a good Doctor – he’s a great actor. It’s like he’s grabbed you by the hand, and taken you on these adventures with him. When he’s happy, you’re happy too. When he’s angry, you really don’t know what he’s going to do. And when he’s sad…

Even in the weaker episodes (and those are few and far between), Matt is a joy to behold. I’m probably the only fan in the world who hates The Doctor’s Wife – it was, essentially, fan-fiction with a predictable plot – but even then, the Doctor… nay, the whole TARDIS team were amazing.

“Yes, it’s insane. And it’s about to get even more insanerer. (Is that a word?)”

Perhaps, then, it is down to the writers, too, for their unerring characterisation. (I’ll give Gaiman that; the three leads were spot-on.) I initially thought that the Eleventh Doctor’s personality was so definitive, you couldn’t get it wrong. One read of The Coming of the Terraphiles later, and I realised that this simply wasn’t true. The Doctor is hard to capture, but done right… and he’s the best.

It saddens me no end that this perfect era has to, eventually, come to an end. Keep Amy and Rory! Please! And ignore that “Fall of the Eleventh” thing! Never leave the TARDIS!

So how would I describe what makes the Eleventh Doctor so right? Well, I’d simply direct you to this little gem in The Eleventh Hour:

The Doctor: Amy Pond. The Girl Who Waited. You’ve waited long enough.

Amy Pond: When I was a kid, you said there was a swimming pool and a library and that the swimming pool was in the library.

The Doctor: Yeah, not sure where it’s got to now. It’ll turn up. So. Coming?

Amy Pond: No.

The Doctor: You wanted to come fourteen years ago.

Amy Pond: I grew up.

The Doctor: Don’t worry; I’ll soon fix that.

[He clicks his fingers and the TARDIS doors swing open.]

Sorry to all previous incarnations – honestly, you’re all just fantastic and this is truly a tough thing to admit – but the Eleventh Doctor is my favourite Doctor. My Doctor.

“Geronimo…!”

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About the Author

When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything.




16 Responses to Eleventh Heaven

  1. Ravenja says:

    Thanks! I feel exactly the same about Matt and his Doctor :) He manages to let us see the old soul in his young body. I hope he’ll stay The Doctor for a while!

  2. rasillon27 says:

    Nice piece of fan love, but frankly, I think you are one of a relative few that have come to your conclusion. Don’t get me wrong, he’s performing adequately, if not adeptly, especially given the incessant (and dull) story arc model Moffatt seems so attached to. To bring life to this sequence of stories in which everything seems utterly made up out of thin air (Why does kissing fix the timeline?? Seriously??) would take a brilliant cast, and I’m glad to see they’ve succeeded, but in the end, Smith, in my opinion, is a transitional Doctor, more in the caliber of Troughton and C. Baker than Hartnell, Pertwee, T. Baker, Davison, or Tennant. Even Eccleston’s frantic “fantastic” and McCoy’s dark yet goofy take on the role offer, again, in my opinion, more than the childlike Smith. His Doctor is more “kid in a candy store” and less “Time’s Champion”.

    I will never totally disparage any Doctor…I’m just too happy to be watching the show again, but since the Moffatt/Smith team joined the show, it has certainly lost all its gravitas and replaced it with soccer games and Stormageddon…it’s childish. The Tardis crew is frolicking through the universe like kids in a field of flowers, and I, for one, long for Hartnell and Pertwee more and more each day. Even the McGann audios, which could be so beautiful if filmed, are far more powerful than the current run.

    Thanks for keeping us going, Misters Smith and Moffatt, and I will welcome you as long as you last, but I wont pretend that “Who’s next?” is far from my mind at any point.


    • Smith, in my opinion, is a transitional Doctor, more in the caliber of Troughton

      You realise you lost your argument with that statement, right?

      • gavinio says:

        As Colin Baker once said, without Troughton making such a good job of taking over from Hartnell there would not have been a Doctor three, four, five and so on!

      • rasillon27 says:

        I disagree, humbly, and here’s why. This article is about a fan of the show choosing this Doctor as his favorite. We have been graced with Doctors of drastically different personalities over nearly 50 years. Yet in many polls on who is the favorite some tend to drift to the top and some to the bottom half. I hesitated putting that line in my defense because I knew it would invoke a negative reaction, but in context, it matters. Regardless of what we each think of Troughton, who was brilliant in his way, he is generally in the bottom half to bottom third in those polls every time. The difference between this era and his is that during his era, there were brilliant stories. The problem, however, remains. Troughton places low on those lists for two reasons, many of his stories have been lost, and because his Doctor’s personality isn’t as appealing as others for most fans. This isDoctor the same for C. Baker. I believe, after a couple decades reflection, may the show last that long) Smith’s Doctor will be regarded

        • rasillon27 says:

          –will be regarded similarly. He is good. They are all good. But the personality he brings to the character, in my opinion (and this is all about opinion, of course) lacks depth. Sorry for the break in the post and the earlier typos…sending from a mobile.


          • Interesting argument, rasillon27! Don’t worry about the break :)

  3. Spaceman says:

    Agreed!! Totally 100%, Matt Smith/11th Doctor Is My Doctor.
    I got it. that moment, on the Confidential reveal… Don’t ask, I just knew, by the end of the programme his interview I knew he was going to be a great Doctor, I just didn’t know how great…

    I have been watching the series since 1973, “The Green Death”.
    I loved watching the programme with my family on a regular basis. (I didn’t realise how much so until I got the videos.) I became a fan, in a big way in 1983. I’ve enjoyed the actors and their Doctors. And with each regeneration looked forward to what the new Doctor will be like, continuing the adventures. Well they are the different charactristics of the same Time Lord

    Sad to say, for the first time I have a future problem with this.. Matt leaving, when he does leave in the future. (More years to come yet.) For the first time, I’m going to have a problem with this….

    But! He is a great Doctor, My Doctor. For all of the reasons in the article above and more. You can’t keep your eyes off him, even when he’s in the background of a shot (Moffat you were so right about that!)
    Happy. Funny. Sad. Angry. Compassionate. Endearing.
    And the clothes? Well…. Bow ties, tweed jackets and fezs are cool.

    The eleventh Doctor is a Mad Man in a box. Off the wall and brilliant.

    Yes, Matt Smith Is My Doctor. And after 38 years of watching Who, I told him eactly this, last year, at the series 5 box set signing. Matt’s dumbstruck shocked reply? “Really? Wow!! Thank you.”
    Yes you are. He is. And I can’t wait to see where he takes us next….

  4. Kate says:

    I have to agree. I started watching with Nine – “Aliens of London” was my first episode (I know, it’s amazing I kept watching it – hardly the best example!). When I heard he was being replaced with some guy named David Tennant, I was skeptical – but of course, Ten soon won me over. I was devoted to Ten, and obviously you can’t get better than that, can you? I cried when I heard he was going to be leaving. No one could possibly be as good. And then they cast some weird looking guy named Matt Smith? Huh?!

    I sat down to watch “The Eleventh Hour” with the same feeling you get going to the dentist – you really don’t want to be there but you feel that it’s your duty. But it took only a few minutes to realize maybe – just maybe – this Doctor was worth a chance. From “Can I have an apple?” to “Beans are evil, bad, bad beans,” (which my sister and I still frequently quote), to “AND STAY OUT!” – within minutes I began to think maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. Obviously not as good as Ten, but…

    And then it went on. And by the time series 5 ended…I liked Eleven as much as I liked Ten!

    Now that we’ve seen series 6 – I’ve got to say, I really do like Eleven the best. Matt Smith does a tremendous job. He’s able to be quite light and humorous, but he can be tremendously dark and serious. I still think he’s not ever able to be quite as dark as Nine or Ten (let’s face it – you wouldn’t want to cross Nine and then meet him in a dark alley, and Ten was certifiable there towards the end, changing a fixed point like that), but he’s got so many beautifully good points. I have to say, Eleven is my Doctor as well.

    As for Amy and Rory – I could write an article about them. As much as I loved Rose, as much as I adored Donna, as much as I usually wanted to drop Martha off on the moon and leave her there – Amy and Rory are the best. You have the girl who waited, and the man who loves her – and that’s something I love. Rory isn’t with the Doctor because HE wants to be. He’s there because Amy wants it. He’ll do anything for Amy.

  5. Mab says:

    Oh you’re not the only one Philip, I hated the Doctors Wife too. I’m so glad someone said it, and on THIS site too! It was terrible fan-fiction, totally predictable and tediously dull.
    Love your work, Love Matt Smith…

    M.

  6. Ratfink says:

    Too right. He’s brilliant :) Every Doctor that i’ve seen has been totally special, but Matt.. Is specially special.. Just a great bloody actor. How can he have twenty emotions race across his face in a few seconds.. Mad :)
    The Doctors Wife was cool though, maybe cos i feel that way about my motorbikes.. Thats how it feels to love your transport.

  7. gavinio says:

    I didn’t like The Doctor’s Wife either! You are not alone in that! I agree with most of everything else you said – except for I hope Amy’s time in the TARDIS comes to an end soon. I’ve never taken to her – heck in The God Complex Rita proved to more likeable and companion like in around 30 minutes than Karen Gillan has managed in two years – though I will miss Rory as Arthur Darvill has been excellent!

    I think Matt Smith is the best of the modern series Doctor’s and is right up there with Tom Baker and Peter Davison (my two favourite Doctor’s).

    • Ratfink says:

      I didnt like Rita, she was too good, too smart, too brave etc. No fun at all!

  8. Drew Fleming says:

    I love the character traits of current Doctor but the costume still leaves me cold. I would like a return to the short hair/leather jacket look of the ninth.

  9. Rob says:

    I agree with you Philip. The Eleventh is amazing, even better than the Tenth, and he was a hard one to beat. That said, I thought The Doctor’s Wife was great.

  10. Pingback: 2 years of the 11th Doctor « Doctor Who Weekly

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