Who is Matt Smith?

The British Broadcasting Corporation recently announced Matt Smith as the actor who will take over the title role of the BBC’s long-running science fiction program Doctor Who. Smith will be the eleventh actor to play the beloved Time Lord when he succeeds current Doctor David Tennant, who is presently filming four Doctor Who specials which will air later this year. Tennant will leave the show at the end of the last special, stepping aside as Smith takes over the console of the Doctor’s space-time vehicle, the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space).

The 26 year-old Smith will be the youngest actor ever to play the Doctor. Peter Davison had previously been the youngest Doctor, having succeeded Tom Baker in 1981 at the age of twenty-nine. William Hartnell was the oldest actor cast in the role. He was 55 when the original Doctor Who series began in 1963. Smith will soon step into shoes previously filled by Hartnell (1963-66), Patrick Troughton (1966-69), Jon Pertwee (1970-74), Tom Baker (1974-81), Peter Davison (1982-84), Colin Baker (1984-86), Sylvester McCoy (1987-89), Paul McGann (1996 TV movie) Christopher Eccleston (2005) and, finally, David Tennant (2005-present).

Shortly after the BBC’s announcement, Smith said “I’m just so excited about the journey that is in front of me. It’s a wonderful privilege and challenge that I hope I will thrive on. I feel proud and honoured to have been given this opportunity to join a team of people that has worked so tirelessly to make the show so thrilling.” He added, in regard to his predecessor, “David Tennant has made the role his own, brilliantly with grace, talent and persistent dedication. I hope to learn from the standards set by him. The challenge for me is to do justice to the show’s illustrious past, my predecessors and most importantly to those who watch it. I really cannot wait.”

Matt Smith turned to acting after suffering a football-related back injury. His first performance was a part in the Nathional Youth Theatre’s production of Murder in the Cathedral. Smith began acting professionally in 2003, having starred alonside Christian Slater in Fresh Kills and Swimming with the Sharks. He landed his first television role in 2006, portraying Jim Taylor in BBC adaptations of Phillip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North. Smith co-starred in both of those productions with Doctor Who actress Billie Piper, who portrayed Sally Lockhart in both adaptations. He also worked with Piper in an episode of her post-DW series Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

Smith looks forward to working with Steven Moffat, who will succeed current creative chief Russell T. Davies as executive producer and head writer when Season Five begins production. Moffat offered these comments to the BBC on Smith’s casting: “The Doctor is a very special part, and it takes a very special actor to play him. You need to be old and young at the same time, a boffin and an action hero, a cheeky schoolboy and the wise old man of the universe. As soon as Matt walked through the door and blew us away with a bold and brand new take on the Time Lord, we knew we had our man. 2010 is a long time away but rest assured the Eleventh Doctor is coming – and the universe has never been so safe.”