GUEST COLUMN Cometh The Eleventh Hour ...


And on the third day of April, He rose again. Guest blogger comedian Toby Hadoke gives his verdict on Matt Smith's debut

After the unprecedented success the series enjoyed with Russell T Davies and David Tennant, Doctor Who needed an Easter miracle to maintain such a revered place in the hearts of the people. Despite high hopes that this change in personnel wouldn’t crucify the show, we disciples of the Doctor were all, deep down, Doubting Thomases. We’re used to things going wrong.

Okay, Eleventh things first. Matt Smith. Too young, they’d said, odd looking. These fears melted away quicker than a reasoned debate on an internet forum. Too young? The only age Smith doesn’t exude is his own. His Doctor is like a big kid being played by an elderly character actor (albeit one who can run and fall over and stuff). Odd looking (I’ll ignore how rich this is coming from Doctor Who fans)? The camera loves his face, as it morphs from childish bemusement to febrile, quick thinking genius. From the moment he burst from the TARDIS, wet, curious and totally at ease in the presence of a child, I was with him, hooked on his gangly body language, his idiosyncratic delivery and his unforced, natural eccentricity.

Of Moffat we had been more certain, so surely we’d only be disappointed. He was bound to make us cross somehow. We love Doctor Who, but we seem to love being angry with it more. Angry is happy for geek people. Typically, he didn’t make it easy for himself, and yet managed to push all the right buttons and do so with a swagger and a gag. Unlike Prisoner Zero, Moffat can speak fluently using many different mouths. As well as establishing two new leads, this script had the balls to do a protracted comedy food scene, wrangle an intricate time travel storyline, and give the monsters a clever conceptual tic. Having the dog-man barking was neat. Having the scary mother speaking in a child’s voice to taunt the Doctor was genius. Scary stuff, made for dark winter nights. Sometimes I wish the sun would bugger off.

Elsewhere Karen Gillan proved to be a comic actress more than capable of wrangling Moffat’s gutsy, quick-fire dialogue. It’ll be good to see her wrestle with more dramatic moments later on in the series, but on the evidence thus far, she’s more than capable. Some of the guest cast were rather wasted (bar Arthur Darvill’s endearing Rory – he’ll be a fan favourite by the season’s end, I guarantee), but if the show is attracting actors of calibre to fill out even the smallest roles, we can hardly complain. And frankly, seeing Cully from The Dominators pop up as the man whose car Amy uses to trap the Doctor’s tie in was the icing on the cake for me. I’m sure no avid fan of Casualty would be especially excited if they noticed that in next week’s episode Man Who Falls Off Roof is played by the same actor who gave us his Man Who Cut Off A Finger way back in series five, but I don’t care. Enjoying such moments separates us fans from the casual viewer, and those little bonuses repay decades of dedication through thick, thin and having spoilers printed in the tabloids. Oh yeah, sometimes I wish The Sun would bugger off.

There is definitely a fairytale quality to this new series – having watched "The Beast Below" now too, I think that even the colour scheme is right. It’s all red and orange and warm, like that crackling log fire I used to sit in front of to watch the show when I was little. At that time, the BBC did a night called TV Hell which they illustrated using loads of shots from Doctor Who. I think it’s fair to say that all this time later, the programme has ascended unto its rightful place, and rests firmly in TV Heaven.

And the kids love it too. I wouldn’t have it any other way. When Doctor Who is on, I don’t want my son to bugger off. And if it carries on like this, he never will.

Comedian, actor and writer Toby Hadoke is a lifelong Doctor Who fan, and a regular at XS Malarkey and The Comedy Store in Manchester. If you missed him at the SFX Weekender, this month you can see his celebrated Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf act on Thursday 29 April at the Stockton Arc and on Friday 30 April at the Rosehill Theatre, Cumbria.


I'm the Group Editor-in-Chief for Future's film group.
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