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article imageMatt Smith ready to star in Doctor Who movie

By Mathew Wace Peck     Oct 18, 2010 in Entertainment
Matt Smith, the star of the BBC TV science-fiction drama series Doctor Who, is keen to star in a big-budget version of the show.
Speaking to the Daily Star Sunday, the 27-year-old actor said that the prospect of a Doctor Who movie would help decide how long he remained with the television series.
He said: "I'd definitely be up for staying on if they did a film – hell, yeah. I would be thrilled if there could be a movie version. I want them to do it.
"There is something brilliantly televisual about Doctor Who, but I think it could definitely work as a film."
Doctor Who and the Daleks
Although Doctor Who is fast approaching its fiftieth anniversary – having started in 1963 – surprisingly, there have only ever been two theatrically released movie versions of the format. They appeared way back in the 1960s, during the first wave of Dalekmania. The Daleks are Doctor Who’s oldest enemies, having first appeared in the show’s fourth transmitted episode – “The Daleks”, by Terry Nation.
The two sixties films, Dr. Who & the Daleks (1965) and Daleks – Invasion Earth 2140 AD (1966), were based on the first two Dalek TV adventures – Terry Nation’s Dead Planet and The Dalek Invasion of Earth, both originally broadcast in 1964.
At the time, William Hartnell was playing the Doctor on television, but his schedule was such that he was unavailable to star in the films. Instead, Peter Cushing – who famously played Winston Smith in 1984 and is probably best remembered for his Hammer House of Horror films – was cast in the role. He was joined, for the first film, by Roberta Tovey (Touch of Death)), Jennie Linden (Women in Love) and Roy Castle (Record Breakers), as his companions, and Tovey, Jill Curzon (The Champions) and Bernard Cribbins (The Wombles), for the second.
Cribbins returned to the world of Doctor Who forty years later, playing a minor, unnamed, part in the 2007 Christmas special, Voyage of the Damned. His character was then brought back into the series, in 2008, this time with a name – Wilfred Mott, the grandfather of Donna Noble, as played by Catherine Tate (Starter for 10). Cribbins appeared in several episodes during 2008, before returning to the show once again, this time as the Doctor’s companion, for David Tennant’s swansong episodes, The End of Time, by Russell T Davies.
As reported by Digital Journal earlier this year, the films for many years were “derided because they diverge so spectacularly from the TV series, [but] have long adopted cult status among Doctor Who fans and movie aficionados alike. However, at the time, due to the under-performance at the box office of the second film, a planned third, again involving the Daleks [and based on Nation’s third Dalek TV story, The Chase, was never produced.”
For another Doctor Who film, fans then had to wait 30 years, until 1996 – but, this time, Doctor Who, by Matthew Jacobs (Paperhouse), was a straight-to-television movie. The Doctor was played by Paul McGann (Withnail & I), and, unlike the Cushing films, this one and McGann’s Doctor are classed as cannon. The narrative carries on directly from the original BBC TV series, with the seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) seen regenerating into the eighth.
Doctor Who Meets Scratchman
In the intervening three decades between the Cushing and McGann movies, a number of Doctor Who films were proposed, the two most notable being Doctor Who Meets Scratchman and The Dark Dimension – also referred to as Inside the Dark Dimension.
Scratchman, which would have been a theatrical release, was written by the fourth Doctor himself, Tom Baker, and the late Ian Marter, who played his companion, Harry Sullivan. Unfortunately, funding difficulties led to the project being shelved.
The Dark Dimension was written by Adrian Rigelsford (The Roof of the World). Conceived as a TV movie to mark the 30th anniversary of the show in 1993, the film was to reintroduce Baker to the role he’d played from 1974 to 1981, and would have been directed by Graeme Harper (The Caves of Androzani). However, internal politics playing out at the BBC at the time meant that this, too, was eventually abandoned.
Since the show’s triumphant return to TV screens in 2005, talk of another Doctor Who film have often reached fever pitch. Russell T Davies, who was series showrunner until last year, has himself suggested that one will happen some day. However, he was forced to dispel rumours circulating during the summer that suggested that the Hollywood actor Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean) had signed up to play the Doctor in a film written by him.
At about the same time, some media sources were suggesting that Smith was ready to quit the series to follow a Hollywood career. But this, too, has since been denied, with the actor suggesting that he’ll remain with the show through to 2013.
Smith only took over the role of the Doctor, from Tennant, at the beginning of this year, and has so far appeared in one full series. He has recently finished filming this year’s Christmas special by Steven Moffat and is now filming a second and third series, both for transmission in 2011.
In addition, he will be guest-starring as the Doctor in two upcoming episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, and can currently be seen as the Time Lord in Doctor Who Live, a stage show touring the UK during the next few weeks.
In November, in his first break from Who since joining the show, Smith will be seen playing Christopher Isherwood in a BBC Films production, Christopher and His Kind.
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