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An Unearthly Child?

Posted in doctor who, TV with tags , , , , , , on January 5, 2009 by zombiebacon

After months of speculation that the new Doctor Who would be a woman, coloured person or a dwarf, the choice was finally revealed on Saturday.

Matt Smith, a relative unknown, has made history by becoming the youngest actor to take on the role in the series’ 46-year history. At 26 he’s a baby compared to predecessors such as William Hartnell (55), Jon Pertwee (51), Patrick Troughton (46), Sylvester McCoy (44), and Tom Baker (40).

Matt Smith is to take control of the TARDIS from Series Five

Matt Smith is to take control of the TARDIS from Series Five

Before him the freshest face to inhabit the TARDIS was Peter Davidson, who took the role on at 29.

Looking on the various Doctor Who forums it seems many ‘Whovians’ (Who-geeks like myself) fear 26 is too young to do justice to the character.

They complain of ageism, which admittedly is becoming more common on TV, and a cynical attempt to appeal to the younger viewers rather than pick the best man, or woman, or dwarf, for the job.

There are some roles where age matters. Gandalf in Lord of the Rings would have seemed odd played by Daniel Radcliffe and Sir Ian McKellen just wouldn’t have fitted in at Hogwarts.

But the GREAT thing about the Doctor is that he can regenerate into anybody. One of his companions, Time Lady Romana, tried quite a few bodies before settling on Lalla Ward – including an alien. And if we are being pedantic then it would be hard for ANY actor to fill the Doctor’s boots, considering he’s supposed to be over 900 years old.

The fact Matt Smith beat a host of talented actors to be named the 11th Doctor should be all we need to know. He’s obviously got the Who-factor (looks and mannerisms) and we should trust the producers to bring us the most suitable candidate. Unless their criteria was number of wrinkles.

So what if he’s 26. He’s an actor – he can fit into the part because the part is so open to change. In addition he brings youthful enthusiasm and no baggage.

More important than the amount of candles on Matt’s birthday cake are the quality of the scripts and the vision of lead writer/executive producer Steven Moffat who will be taking charge of series five in 2010.

Considering Moffat’s previous work – including some of the series’ best episodes such as Blink and Girl in the Fireplace – I think the show is in safe hands. And if anyone is still moaning about age then they should remember Moffat’s pushing 50 so he can pass down his worldly wisdom via the scripts and out the Doctor’s mouth.

In fact it’s a great combination: youth and age combined in one character. Personally, I can’t wait for Matt to lead Doctor Who in a new and exciting direction.

For more on how the Matt Smith era might shape up, visit the TV Squad blog.

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