Eleven Degrees of Separation

Can I say something that might shock you? I like drinking. 
But if there’s one thing I enjoy more than solely drinking, it’s doing so with my stalwart friend ArlowWeeks. One such event occurred this past weekend, and as is invariably inevitable these past few years, the subject of Doctor Who came up. We are both avid fans and can easily make a Who conversation (and all its myriad tangents) last for hours.
This time we discussed the recent Sun ‘news’paper story about Matt Smith departing the role of the Doctor after the next series/season. I personally think this is absolute tosh, but it’s not the first time I’ve been wrong. Both my stalwart friend and I are firmly in the Matt Smith camp (although if you were to ask our significant others, they might say we’ve been camp for years). Mr Smith brings with him so much vibrancy, purpose, enthusiasm and above all, he is the first actor/Doctor to actually embody all the various and interesting characteristics of his former regenerations.
If you look at previous regenerations, it’s almost been common to try to move in a different direction than your predecessor. That’s understandable, in both an actor’s point of view, for the longevity of the TV show, and also for the character of the Doctor – let’s not forget that the concept of regenerations was one cleverly dreamed up to solve a casting crisis, yet that doesn’t mean there aren’t rules. And then there are some traits that are inherently ‘the Doctor’ – the man is clearly a genius in many fields, but he doesn’t necessarily have access to all his faculties all of the time, think Stephen Hawking mixed with Jack Sparrow…you know, THAT kind of genius.
I have prepared this handy breakdown of the Doctor’s 11 personalities since the Hartnell years, and here it is:
Doc 1: irascible, occasionally bad-tempered, clearly a genius
Doc 2: clownish, thinks on the fly, underestimated by outward appearance
Doc 3: dandy, selfish to an extent, rough edges
Doc 4: a bit mad, prone to tangental thoughts, playful, mood swings
Doc 5: gentle, old-fashioned, old man in a young body, a bit shouty at times
Doc 6: irascible, prone to tangental thoughts, egotistical
Doc 7: irascible, underestimated by outward appearance
Doc 8: playful, clearly a genius
Doc 9: clownish, thinks on the fly, playful, mood swings
Doc 10: a bit shouty at times, preachy, know-it-all, superior
Doc 11: irascible, occasionally bad-tempered, clearly a genius, clownish, thinks on the fly, underestimated by outward appearance, dandy, selfish to an extent, rough edges, a bit mad, prone to tangental thoughts, playful, mood swings, gentle, old-fashioned, old man in a young body, a teeny weeny bit shouty at times but far less so than his predecessor, egotistical, occasionally brilliant….

So, in essence, one of the best things about Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor is his ability (whether conscious, unconscious, or merely suggested by Grand Moff Steve) to embody characteristics of his previous selves. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense – yet I got the impression in past years that actors were keen to make the role ‘their own’ and put their own unique stamp on the character. I imagine that would probably be one of the most fun aspects of being given the role – to look for and hopefully find a certain something that is both familiar and yet totally new. 

Matt Smith has admitted in his research for the role he read a lot of Albert Einstein’s theories and quotations, plus watching a lot of Patrick Troughton. He has not actually stated that he intentionally researched various ‘Doctor’ characteristics, but even if he didn’t – the very fact that he employs them makes him stand out as a Doctor. 

Just be thankful that the BBC went for an intelligent actor/writer combination than an act of stunt-casting for a good-looking, totally unbelievable Doctor. My money is on Smith not only sticking around for a while yet, but after his tenure inside the TARDIS comes to an end, people will look back fondly and he’ll sit up there at the top next to the likes of Baker, Troughton and Tennant.

Now….as for his companion Amy Pond’s longevity, I am not 100% sold yet until I see her posing naked with a Dalek.
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