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article imageDoctor Who hits UK screens tonight – with a new man in the TARDIS

By Andrew John     Apr 3, 2010 in Entertainment
America must hold its breath for two more weeks, but today millions of sci-fi fans in the UK will tune in to see a new actor in the guise of the eccentric Time Lord with the sonic screwdriver and the police-box time machine.
And the new man in that role has confessed that he has a romantic nature.
Doctor Who is sure to get massive audiences at 6.20 British Summertime this evening, when the opening story, The Eleventh Hour, is screened on BBC1.
Matt Smith – the youngest actor to take control of the TARDIS – says he has no idea yet just how it will all affect his love life.
“I haven’t had to cross that bridge yet because I am not as publicly recognizable as I will be in a few months, so I don’t know exactly what it will be like,” he said.
“I hope I will be able to sort the wheat from the chaff if you meet someone at Tesco or whatever. And you never know – I met my first girlfriend at Tesco walking down the meat aisle with my dad.”
Smith added: “A loving relationship is important and rewarding, and I am a romantic.”
Last month he said that, because of the hectic work schedule on Doctor Who, the series itself was the love of his life at the moment. The cast and crew work six or seven days a week during filming, often into the early hours of the morning.
Smith – just 26 when he became the Doctor, and now just turned 27 – takes over from tenth Doctor David Tennant.
The new series supremo Steven Moffat at first insisted that the eleventh Doctor should be more mature – in his 40s, perhaps – but then found Smith, and offered him the role.
Smith had ambitions to be a footballer when he was younger, but injury prevented that career path. Instead, he studied drama and creative writing at university, and eventually became an actor.
The long-established bible for “Whovians”, Doctor Who Magazine, says this month that, in order to help him inhabit the right head space, Smith wrote some personal Doctor Who fiction.
“I wrote the odd short story,” he tells the magazine. “I wrote one mad story about the Doctor and Einstein making pyramids in Egypt. I was actually in Egypt on holiday at the time, knowing I was going to start the role.
“There’s not much you can do in that situation besides learn your lines and do some research.
“So I wrote the Einstein story to try to get in touch with the Doctor. Einstein and the Doctor were trapped in a time bubble, which wouldn’t let everyone in, only the most intelligent guys in the universe. I had some bad guys in it, too.
“Einstein was a bit of a bumbling fool but the Doctor had great affection for this smiley character. Both of them have a bonkers twinkle in their eye, and are pure workaholics.”
Smith was cast in the role six months before he began filming, and used that time to research the character, including watching lots of DVDs of previous doctors.
Tonight’s opening episode comes just a week and a day after fans celebrated the fifth anniversary of what is termed New Who, when Doctor Who hit screens again after a 16-year television hiatus broken only by a film in 1996 starring Paul McGann as the eighth Doctor.
The series hits USA TV screens on April 17.
More about Doctor Who, Matt smith, Eleventh hour, David tennant, Steven moffat
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