Press and Publicity Articles for The Eleventh Hour
Matt Smith appears in the room, like a Tardis materialising out of thin air.
It's a rainy March afternoon at Doctor Who HQ, near Cardiff, and a small group of journalists is being given a guided tour of the costume department.
Suddenly, the new Doctor is striding among us - in full costume - with raindrops in his impossibly floppy hair.
"And this is the raggedy Doctor..." says Smith, pointing to a dummy wearing the scorched shirt and tie of David Tennant's 10th Time Lord.
It's what Smith wears during much of his debut episode The Eleventh Hour - which airs on BBC One on Easter Saturday.
After a quick chat about his tweed jacket and his bow-tie, the 27-year-old actor pops open his shirt buttons and reveals a circle of bare chest.
"I wear a grey T-shirt underneath with a hole for my mic," he says.
And then he's hopping on one foot, pulling up his trouser leg to reveal his microphone transmitter.
He may not be in character, but it already feels like we're getting to know Matt Smith's zany 11th Doctor.
"I was always very keen that the element of the professor would come out," says Smith, readjusting his clothing.
He describes how he prepared for the role in the first half of 2009, before filming began.
"I wrote loads of stories about the Doctor and Einstein in Egypt - that's how the pyramids were created," Smith explains excitedly.
"I had six months, and it was the only way that I could get in contact with the Doctor. I always picture Einstein like this..."
Smith sticks out his tongue in a recreation of the famous photograph of Einstein from the early 1950s.
And then - tongue retracted - he talks about how he wants his costume to evolve over the next two years.
"I want a coat - practically - because I get cold. And I'd quite like a hat..."
From a nearby mannequin, he grabs the policewoman's hat worn by his companion, Amy Pond, and puts it on his head.
"But maybe not in every episode."
'Process of evolution'
A few hours later, I'm sitting with Matt Smith in an almost-empty auditorium in a Cardiff multiplex.
It's a few minutes after the premiere screening of The Eleventh Hour - and he's trying to eat a Scotch egg in between interviews.
Is he ready for the wave of fandom that's about to hit him?
"I can only answer hypothetically because I don't know what it is yet," says Smith earnestly. "I guess you try and deal with it with as much grace and aplomb as you can.
"I'll go about my business and walk and get my paper at the same paper shop and all the rest of it. You've got to live your life."
He seems genuinely grateful when told he seems to have fitted easily into the role vacated by David Tennant.
"With my Doctor there's a process of evolution, and I hope that's part of the appeal of the series.
"I think I get better, as time continues and you get more confident and assured hopefully that transmits to the screen. But that's very kind of you to say - thank you - it means a lot."
Doctor Who's new show-runner Steven Moffat has described Smith as bringing "genuine madness" back to the role.
"I think every person that plays it brings something new," says Smith. "Tom Baker was pretty bonkers, so it isn't as though there haven't been bonkers Doctors before.
"I think my Doctor is quite reckless - he takes everything to the precipice and then jumps off and then BOOM! He'll have a moment of inspired genius."
The actor has revealed that he unwinds between scenes by playing the guitar.
"I'm not particularly good, I know about five chords and just riff around. But it does help me relax," says Smith.
"Music is one of my passions. I have a piano at home and I tinker on that. I like the sense of improvement you get with an instrument - it's different to acting, and it's a different bit of me to express and explore."
And then he's off to his next interview, gripping that Scotch egg as if it were as precious as the Doctor's sonic screwdriver...
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour can been seen on Saturday 3 April on BBC One at 1820 BST.
Credit: Radio Times
Well, where to start? New Doctor, new companion, new TARDIS, new theme tune and that's not even mentioning all the changes behind the scenes. It's pretty remarkable then that, with little continuity to work with beyond a man in a big blue box, "The Eleventh Hour" slipped so naturally into the Doctor Who canon. What's more, Stephen Moffat's inaugural outing as head writer was effortlessly effervescent, with Russell T. Davies' bold, brash Who making way for much darker fantasy fare and a genuinely magical sense of wonder and whimsy that's been missing from the show in recent years.
For that, we can largely thank Matt Smith's Doctor, who's infectious awkwardness and childlike exuberance had us from the get-go. If there was ever any worry that this relative newcomer might struggle to fill the sizable boots left by David Tennant, it quickly dissipated with Smith's confident, spritely and surprisingly subtle portrayal of the centuries-old Time Lord. Indeed, by the time things are wrapped up 65 minutes later, he owned the show. Tennant who?
Meanwhile, Karen Gillan's beautiful, feisty Amy Pond slipped equally snugly into the vacant companion role. Introduced through a clever plot device which squeezed 12 years of back-story into 20 minutes of screen time, we first meet Amy as a young girl, all wide-eyed innocence, as the Doctor's malfunctioning TARDIS tumbles back in time, crash landing in the garden of her eerie country cottage.
With typically creepy Moffat touches hitting early on in the shape of a mysterious crack in the wall and something sinister lurking just out of view, it's classic behind-the-sofa stuff. Yet, there are poignant moments too as young Amy waits in vain for the Doctor's return. More so when, 12 years later, we meet the wary, cynical grown-up Amy, we're instantly given more insight into a companion character than we've ever had before.
With menace-of-the-week revealed to be the escaped shape-shifting Prisoner Zero, having slipped through the crack in time and space in Amy's wall, it's fair to say that the extraterrestrial calamity plot is the weakest link in an otherwise superb opening episode. With Prisoner Zero on the loose and captors the Atraxi poised to obliterate the Earth should their charge not be returned immediately, a whole bunch of disparate elements -- from coma patients, mobile phones and computer viruses -- hurtle in and out of the picture, never really gelling into a satisfying whole.
No, it certainly isn't perfect, with a saggy midsection and slightly naff CGI effects baring the brunt of any remaining criticism. Where things win out, though, is in the little details, with a pace and lightness of touch that positively crackle with infectious energy, thanks to countless classic Moffat one-liners ("You're Scottish, fry something") and a tone that fulfills all the promise of a dark fairytale -- particularly evident in the show's simply gorgeous Burton-esque cinematography and a genuinely excellent score from series' stalwart Murray Gold. "The Eleventh Hour" also finds time to sow the seeds for this season's intriguing story arc and offers an assured introduction to Amy's band of supporting characters, including Annette Crosbie's Mrs. Angelo, Arthur Darvill's Rory and Tom Hopper's Jeff.
Sure, its 65 minute run-time felt more of an extravagance than a necessity, but "The Eleventh Hour" is wondrous in so many ways. As the Doctor takes to the rooftops in the closing minutes against Gold's euphoric staccato score, stepping through a bubble of Time Lords past to caution the Atraxi, "Basically… run", it's proper goose bump stuff. It's magical TV, the kind that makes you feel eight years old again and, ending with a season preview to end all previews, it looks like there's plenty more where that came from.
With the announcement of David Tennant leaving Doctor Who, fans feverishly awaited news on who would replace one of the best Doctors ever to grace the screen. On January 3, 2009 the identity of the new Time Lord was revealed. Matt Smith, a somewhat unknown actor, was tapped to become the eleventh iteration of everyone’s favorite duel-hearted time traveler.
At the age of 26, he is the youngest actor ever to portray the iconic character created by Sydney Newman, C. E. Webber and Donald Wilson more than 50 years ago. Following the announcement, fans, rightfully so, where initially quite weary. “How could anyone replace David Tennant,” they said. But, as the premiere grew near and more footage was released, those same weary fans became… let’s say, cautiously optimistic. And, for Doctor Who fans, that’s as good as it gets.
In “The Eleventh Hour,” we not only get to see Matt Smith as The Doctor, but also Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, the new companion, and Stephen Moffat’s debut as the new executive producer and head writer of the series.
Is Matt Smith really “the” Doctor? How will Karen Gillan compare to the former companions? Will Stephen Moffat be able to fill the proverbial shoes of Russell T. Davies?
It takes but mere moments for Moffat’s presences to be felt. Toppling through time and space, the TARDIS, under the control of the newly regenerated Matt Smith, crashes into the garden of a young Amelia Pond. Young Pond, played the cousin of Karen Gillan, has bigger things to worry about than some time traveler. You see, she has a crack in her bedroom wall.
A crack, while seemingly innocent in our world, takes on a new life under Moffat’s pen. The crack is not a mere crack in the wall, but in time and space itself. “Prisoner Zero has escaped” can be heard, with the help of an empty glass, through the breach. As the Doctor wields his sonic screwdriver to close it, something, or someone, unnoticeably escapes.
With the appearance of another problem solved, The Doctor promises young Pond that he’ll return in five minutes. With a broken TARDIS, five minutes turns into twelve years where we’ve got a grown up Pond still living with the alien that escaped oh so long ago.
It’s wonderful approach to introduce not only this week’s antagonist, but also the series new companion, with a slightly different name, Amy Pond.
Pond, played by Karen Gillan), is a brilliant companion. While easily one of the most beautiful companions, Pond also has one of the best personalities – one that would make Donna Noble proud. Some women may swoon at a time traveler in their presence, but Pond is still angry from being left so many years ago by The Doctor and has no problem letting him know it.
Gillian, as Pond, has the potential to provide as much depth and insight to the world of Doctor Who as Catherine Tate playing the gregarious Donna Noble. I only hope she’s given that chance.
The rest of the episode centers around the Atraxi, an alien race that is after Prisoner Zero. After following The Doctor and Prisoner Zero to Earth, they’re looking to retrieve the alien convict. With the TARDIS inoperable while repairing itself and The Doctor’s beloved sonic screwdriver destroyed, the Time Lord must resort to using his whit’s to defeat the alien prison guards threatening to incinerate the planet.
A brilliant episode in its own right, “The Eleventh Hour” gives fans a chance to see how Moffat will handle the day-to-day Doctor Who stories as all can’t revolve around the dark storylines that he has been known for. Still, Moffat being Moffat can’t help but add a foreboding tone to things with the crack in the wall and notion of looking out of the corner of your eye.
While I wouldn’t say that the monster (Prisoner Zero) is one of the best in the Doctor Who universe, watching how the The Doctor handles this new threat, without the use of his familiar tools, is what makes this episode shine.
Smith’s Doctor is somewhat professor-like, but with the quirky and eccentric personality that we’ve seen in most iterations of the Time Lord. That being said, there’s also a hint of a darker side to this Doctor. While the previous Doctors may appear to be passive, Smith’s Doctor has no problem escalating situations, if required.
Throughout the episode, Smith, as the still regenerating Doctor, will sometimes slip in nuances that reminisce of David Tennant’s Doctor. A wonderful nod to the past. While wonderful in his portrayal through-out, it’s not until he don’s his new wardrobe and faces off with the Atraxi that we get to see Smith’s Doctor, Moffat’s Doctor and – I’m happy to say – our new Doctor.
Matt Smith IS The Doctor. Amy Pond IS the companion. And, Stephen Moffat is still as brilliant as ever. Enough said.