EXCLUSIVE – Matt Smith Talks New Doctor Who Series And 50th Anniversary Special!

The Ice Warriors are back in episode three. What did you make of them?

Well, I was very excited, of course. Being a useless… I don’t even know how to pronounce it… a Whohistorian, or a Whostorian… I hadn’t come across them. I mean I knew what they were, but I hadn’t come across them in any detail.

Did you go back to the original Patrick Troughton stories?

Yeah, yeah, of course – which is great, as always with Troughton. And because it was a Troughton monster I was kind of excited, because I really love Troughton. And then Mark [Gatiss, writer of episode three] was really excited about them because I think Mark really loves Troughton as well. I think it’s always great to get the monsters that the fans love and can hark back to from the classic Who series. It’s always nice to see them have a little revamp. It’s like seeing the car in James Bond. When it comes up you go “Ah, there she is – there’s the Aston!” We meet them on a submarine, which is even more exciting for the five year old in you, because they built the submarine, and they just literally flood it and fill it with water. It was great fun to film.

And quite claustrophobic, I imagine…

It’s a full length submarine, so it was really claustrophobic – and bearing in mind there’s a film crew in there, and an Ice Warrior, played by a guy who’s nearly seven foot tall! You couldn’t swing a cat in there, let alone Jenna-Louise Coleman. And it was filled with water up to your knees, sometimes up to your chest. It was great fun, though. It was a right old laugh.

Is there one monster from the show’s past that you’d like your Doctor to fight?

I tell you what I quite like – I like that sort of big, huge robot. I think it was in a Tom Baker episode. He’s kind of fun. I’d like to meet him. There’s a new monster at the end of this season which I think will be a real classic. I’m always quite excited by the new monsters as well. They always tickle me.

You’ve got Neil Gaiman back, writing episode seven.


What do you respond to in Neil’s writing?

His head! The idea. It’s always the central idea which is mad and inventive and brilliant, and you go oh, of course, that’s why he did American Gods and Coraline and all this stuff, and there’s a central idea that is undeniably only ever his. And that’s just wonderful. He’s just got a vast, vivid imagination and it fits the notion of the show and it fits the idea of the character in the show. Yeah, I’m thrilled to work with Neil – and you know what, I really like him. He’s a real good guy. He’s a funny dude. He makes me laugh. I see him in America sometimes. I like Neil, he’s cool.

So, the 50th anniversary special, then. Is Steven still locked in a room writing it? Is he still sane?

Yes, he is still sane – well, as sane as the Moff is, generally. I’ve read the first draft. I think the whole of this season leads brilliantly up to what will be the biggest event in the history of the show. I say that with no hesitation, really. He’s on top form and has delivered a thoroughly exciting, epic, vast science fiction script. It’s really exciting. We start shooting that very soon, and there’ll be a lot of surprises coming your way, let me tell you. A lot. It’s one of those scripts that you read and you go “Whoa, here we go… what’s he done? What has he done with it?” You wouldn’t really want anyone else writing it, would you? He’s a proper fan, and, to my mind, one of the greatest science fiction writers around.

How does it feel to be celebrating the big 50th on your watch as the Doctor?

I feel very proud, actually. It’s about looking back and forward at the same time, a bit like the Doctor does. It’s about celebrating everyone that’s been involved with it, all the wonderful actors that have taken part before me, and it’s also about looking forward and saying “What can we do next? Where can we take it?” I feel in a very privileged position, having had people like David and Chris, Tom, Patrick, Jon, William Hartnell… great, great actors behind me. And to be part of a show that’s still going, that has an audience of about 77 million now worldwide. I love this show, and I’m really honoured, actually, without sounding too [luvvie voice] ‘Oh, how important, what an amazing thing, I am the incumbent Doctor, what a privilege, rah!’ I mean it genuinely. It inspires a humility, I suppose, because it’s about all of us who got it here, do you know what I mean? Yes! Fifty years!

Nick Setchfield

Doctor Who returns to BBC One on Saturday 30 March