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'Doctor Who': Matt Smith, Thank you for being the Doctor

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"Oh my God, it's the Doctor!"

So screamed my inner monologue the first time I visited the Doctor Who set in Cardiff and saw Matt Smith - in full costume, bow tie and all - stalking towards me. It was mid-2010, Smith was partway through filming his first festive special for the BBC sci-fi smash - the Steven Moffat-penned 'A Christmas Carol' - and I, along with a select group of journalists, had been invited onto the show's Wales set to speak to its lead actor, plus his co-stars Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill.

Once he was done filming for the day, Smith - now in his civvies, which made it somewhat easier for this massive Who nerd to reassume a veneer of professionalism - was led by a PR to the show's props department, where we'd be conducting our filmed interview.

Now the props department might not immediately sound like the most exciting venue for an on-camera chat, but the reality was quite different - I was soon surrounded by the remnants of a Cyberman, the limbs of a Weeping Angel and Doctor bleedin' Who was leaning on a Dalek, cool as you like, in front of me.



Once our interview was completed, Matt was more than happy to pose for a photograph as my last vestiges of professionalism fell away and I was fully exposed as a Who fanatic merely posing as a professional journalist.

Of course, I ruined the picture by blinking at the crucial moment, but that's by the by. I already knew from watching his first run of Who episodes that Matt Smith was a terrific actor - what I learnt from our first encounter was what a terribly nice chap he is too.

The second time I met Matt was in October 2010, at the launch of Doctor Who Live at Wembley Arena. Given that we'd only met the once - and considering how many journalists he must've spoken with before and after - imagine my surprise when Smith immediately recognised me and recalled the details of our first run-in at the prop store, right down to the lurking Dalek...



Since then, I've interviewed Matt Smith multiple times - at every new series launch, at each Christmas special premiere - and every single time, he'd greet me like an old friend, with enormous warmth and enthusiasm.

Now I'm not deluded enough to think that I share some special relationship with the star of Doctor Who - it's a credit to Matt Smith that he remembers every journalist's face, his encounters with each of them and, in all likelihood, greets each and every fan and member of the press with the same warmth and enthusiasm that he always shows me.

The last time I spoke to Matt was a few months back on the set of Who's 50th anniversary special - set to air on November 23 - and much had changed since our first encounter. For my part, in the intervening time, I had learnt to resist my urge to emit a high-pitched squeal every time he entered a room.

Or so I thought. The 50th, of course, is a multi-Doctor adventure and faced with Matt Smith *and* David Tennant - both in full costume - stalking towards me, I immediately devolved into a gibbering fanboy mess. I had my photograph taken again, but I didn't blink this time... so that's progress.

Matt Smith and David Tennant on set for the 'Doctor Who' 50th special.

On set for the 'Doctor Who' 50th special.



It's alright, though - Matt hadn't changed either. Three years on from our first interview in the prop store, he was no longer a freshly-minted Time Lord but a seasoned sci-fi veteran, yet still spoke about Doctor Who with the same intensity, the same affection, the same twinkle in his eye as when we first met.

On Saturday (June 1), it was announced that Smith will be leaving Doctor Who this Christmas and speculation is already rife as to who his replacement might be - I even indulged in a little idle guesswork myself.

Whoever ultimately ends up taking on the mantle of the 12th Doctor will have enormous shoes to fill - in losing Matt Smith, Doctor Who is losing not just a talented and charismatic lead, but also its greatest ambassador - an actor whose dedication to and enthusiasm for his work, and those who appreciated it, never wavered.

There'll be plenty more to say about the fall of the Eleventh in the run-up to Christmas, and indeed in its aftermath, but for now, I just wanted to say thank you, Matt Smith. Thank you for being the Doctor.

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