Wondering just who the 11th Doctor actor Matt Smith is? Well before he makes his first real appearance as the Time Lord in the Spring why not read our Icon piece on him?
[Originally published 1st May 2009]
Taking over from David Tennant would be a hard act for any actor as the actor has made the role of the Doctor, well the 10th Doctor, his own. Not since Tom Baker has an actor in the role developed such a loyal following from his fans or attracted so much press attention and praise. Tom Baker was in the role of the 4th Doctor for an incredible seven years and for many Baker’s tensure as the Time Lord defined the Doctor. When Peter Davison took over from Baker in 1981 his performance was radically different from Bakers, as that was the only way to go. As David Tennant steps down from the role his successor will have to make the role his own very quickly but Doctors come and Doctors go, all of this has happened before and will doubtless happen again. As Matt Smith begins to prepare himself for the daunting challenge of taking over from David Tennant we take a look at his career so far.
Matt Smith first entered into acting after an injury playing football forced him out of his chosen career. Before the back injury Smith had played for Northampton Town Under 12’s, Nottingham Forest Under 14’s and Leicester City Under 16’s. After his injury one of his teachers encouraged him to join the National Youth Theatre. While performing with the National Youth Theatre he was also studying Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. During this time Smith appeared in the award winning play The History Boys [directed by Nick Hytner], On The Shore Of The Wide World [directed by Sarah Frankcom] and also in the acclaimed trilogy of plays Burn / Citizenship / Chatroom [directed by Anna Mackmin].
It was these roles that lead Matt Smith to be cast in drama’s on the small screen, amongst these early roles was in The Ruby In The Smoke and The Shadow In The North, both BBC adaptations of Phillip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart detective novels. In the two films he played cockney Jim, the right-hand man of heroine Sally Lockhart who was played by Billie Piper – former companion to Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant in Doctor Who. Playing the role of Rose in Doctor Who boosted Billie Piper’s rising acting career and led to a series of roles, including the role of Sally Lockhart.
In 2007 Smith was cast as Danny Smith in BBC Two’s drama series, Party Animals. The drama series followed the lives of young researches, lobbyists and MP’s in West Minister and was made by the team behind This Life and No Angels. Danny was a researcher of a junior Home Office minister, played by Raquel Cassidy. Danny’s father was also an MP and so Danny is continuing the family tradition by working in politics, as does his brother Scott, played by Andrew Buchan. Also starring in the series was Shelley Conn and Andrea Riseborough. Although Party Animals was well received by critics the series did not rate well in the ratings with an average of just one million viewers. As yet the BBC hasn’t commissioned a second series and isn’t likely too either.
Following Party Animals, Smith returned to theatre and appeared as Henry in Polly Stenham’s That Face opposite Lindsey Duncan. In between two runs of the play Smith played the role of Guy in a West End adaptation of the 90’s Hollywood film Swimming With Sharks. In 2007 he also appeared in an episode of the Bafta award winning drama, The Street, on BBC One.
2010 will see Matt Smith take over from David Tennant in Doctor Who with Smith making his first appearance as the 11th Doctor in the fifth series of the popular BBC series. Filming for the fifth series will start later this year after work is completed on the four specials which will see Tennant make his last appearance as the 10th Doctor.
[Some information from the BBC biography on Matt Smith. Originally published 1st May 2009]