For Your Consideration #3

As we enter the final two weeks of voting for this year’s SFX Awards, the team reveal some of their own personal choices. Today, Nick Setchfield explains how Matt Smith won him over so completely

For Your Consideration

Doctor Who , Matt Smith

For: Best Actor

When Confidential unmasked Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor on that jittery January Saturday I wasn’t entirely sold. Intrigued, yes – mainly by the dementedly twirling hands – but not sold, not instantly. It wasn’t just the instinctive hair envy getting in the way, or the fact that he was so painfully, achingly young, and I was suddenly so painfully, achingly decrepit. It was more the fact that he was such an utterly unknown quantity, a crafty stealth bomber on my Doctor-sniffing radar. Like the majority of the nation I was primed for Paterson Joseph to pluck the TARDIS key from Steven Moffat’s hand (and rather good he would have been too).

Curious, I YouTubed this Smith feller. Party Animals , Ruby In The Smoke . Not much else. He seemed like a solid secondary lead. But he was no Julian Rhind-Tutt.

And then “The Eleventh Hour” came, and he lobbed a grappling-hook from an upended police box in a magic garden and delighted a small girl by asking, “Can I have an apple?” with a breathless, off-kilter grin that was the genetic essence of the character I’ve always loved. Matt Smith was no longer an unknown quantity – he was every mad, lanky inch the Doctor.

As the TARDIS spun from Leadworth to Starship One, Venice to Provence, Smith’s performance continued to be a charming, engaging, endlessly watchable thing, a tweed-clad charisma-grenade at the heart of every episode. He flashed from awe to anger, compassion to mischief, always surprising, always sincere. Like the best actors, he intuitively finds the funny: just watch his bruised, snippy sulks at River Song’s flirty needling, or the sublime moment where he splutters Jammie Dodger crumbs at a Dalek like some flop-haired Cookie Monster. I suspect he may be the greatest physical actor ever to have played the role – watch him spin and whirl around a museum at the beginning of “The Time Of Angels”, or the way he simply shuts a door on a UNIT officer in “The Death Of The Doctor” like a micro-masterclass in comedy timing. Hell, just look at the way he walks, half cowboy, half Clive Dunn.

But rewind to that scene in “The Big Bang” where he talks to the sleeping Amelia, distilling his eleven lives and billion adventures into an old and lovely bedside story. Smith seems indisputably ancient in this scene, and he plays it with a quiet, touching authority that completely belies his 27 years on this planet. Somehow he’s not so much performing as channeling the very spirit of Doctor Who.

So vote for Matt Smith. Because it takes an exceptionally brave young actor to even dare to dream of following David Tennant. And because it takes a truly great and gifted actor to make bow ties look quite that cool.

The SFX Awards 2011 are open until 15 December. Cast your votes by clicking here .

The SFX Awards 2011 will be announced at the SFX Weekender 2 at a star studded ceremony. Buy your tickets to the SFX Weekender by calling our ticket hotline on 08700 110034 or visit www.sfxweekender.com for more details.