Smith (aka the eleventh Doctor from the BBC science-fiction drama) surprised festival-goers by joining Orbital on stage to introduce the duo's final track of the evening, "Dr Who".
The electronic dance-music band had been playing on the Other Stage, 16 years after their headline appearance at Glastonbury 1994 had helped catapult them to international stardom.
Ahead of their last performance of the evening, and with the stage in darkness, a silhouetted figure appeared, to be greeted by a tremendous roar of appreciation as the crowd became aware of who it was. Smith was on stage barely 24 hours after the finale
of the current series of Doctor Who
– The Big Bang
– had been aired in the UK.
He told the assembled crowd that his appearance at Glastonbury was "timey-wimey", referring to an ongoing plot device used within the sci-fi show by its head writer and executive producer, Steven Moffat (Sherlock
So Glastonbury, this is the last song of the evening people, if you're lost ... let's make this one count,
For Orbital, they're back! For Glastonbury, we're back! Let me hear you cheer, let me hear you roar, for Glastonbury.
The 27-year-old actor then went on to DJ with the duo throughout their cover of the world-famous Doctor Who
theme tune, which lasted 6 minutes, 14 seconds and included the TARDIS materialisation/dematerialisation sound and a magnificent laser show beamed into the night sky.
Smith was actually the second Doctor Who
star to appear at this year's Glastonbury. On Saturday afternoon, during the set by the Scissor Sisters on the Pyramid Stage, Kylie Minogue made a surprise appearance alongside Jake Spears and Ana Matronic. In 2007, Minogue played the companion to David Tennant's tenth Doctor in Voyage of the Damned
, by Russell T Davies (The Second Coming
Hartnell to Hartnoll
Orbital consists of brothers Paul and Phil Hartnoll – who, interestingly, share a surname not dissimilar from Matt Smith's predecessor, William Hartnell, who played the first Doctor from 1963 to 1966 and, briefly, in The Three Doctors
, in 1973.
The duo began recording in 1989 with "Chime", which became a rave anthem and reached Number 17 in the Official UK Top 40 singles chart. After a slight lull, their popularity grew rapidly following the release, in 1993, of their second album, Orbital 2
, which remained in the UK album charts for 15 weeks.
1994 was there breakthrough year – they won the Vibes Best Dance Act NME
Award, then headlined at Glastonbury on 25 June, in what Q
magazine classed as "one of the top 50 gigs of all time". They were also one of a very select group of electronic acts to be invited to Woodstock '94.
They have performed at Glastonbury five further times between their first and most recent appearances, and the Guardian recently described them
in the following terms: "Orbital and Glastonbury go together like Havens and Woodstock, Dylan and the Isle of Wight, Hendrix and Monterey."
Orbital split up in 2004, playing one of their final gigs at that year's Glastonbury. Paul Hartnoll went on to record music under his own name, while Phil Hartnoll, together with Nick Smith, formed Long Range. In 2008, the brothers announced that they would be reforming in 2009 with a gig, "20 years after Chime". Since then, they have headlined a number of music festivals, culminating in last night's Glastonbury set.