When I got into Doctor Who, it was by mere chance. Originally I just wanted to watch Torchwood and check out Jack Harkness’ origins. Needless to say that Doctor Who quickly became the show I went crazy about, while to the day Torchwood is nothing more than enjoyable to watch.
My first Doctor was Nine. I remember than when he regenerated into Ten my first reaction was, who’s that skinny guy, give me the daft old face back. It didn’t take long and this first reaction was forgotten. David Tennant became what we Whovians call “My Doctor”. He may not have been the first, but back then he sure was the best.
When I learned that David was leaving I hadn’t yet much of an idea what it would mean. Yes, I’d seen Nine’s regeneration, but nevertheless I was oblivious to the impact Ten’s “death” would have. When it happened, I cried for a full two days, not being able to accept that my Doctor is gone now. And I got angry at the new man and his first moments at “The End of Time”, when all was so different – and especially too cheery and crazy after this heartbreaking goodbye.
I didn’t want a new Doctor. And especially not that baby face they presented us with a David’s successor. I considered giving up on Doctor Who, but then continued watching anyways.
The thing people who don’t watch the show don’t understand is that the Doctor’s regeneration is even harder to accept than the death of a character. Of course the show goes on; and most of us will learn to like the new guy. But before all that, there’s a sadness that is increased by the fact that even though the character you’ve loved is gone, he’s also still there. But with a new face and new personality, and he’s so different. As Whovian, you never get the chance to mourn the lost one; you just have to move on with a new one who has the same thoughts, the same memories, but is oh so different.
Matt Smith sure was different. Thanks to new showrunner Steven Moffat not only the Doctor changed, but everything around it as well. New TARDIS, new companions, new theme music, new title sequence, new everything. When Nine regenerated into Ten, there was continuity thanks to Rose. Rose was us fans; she was the one to get to know the new Doctor for us, travel with him, fall in love with him – again and even more. She assured us that this is still the Doctor, even with a new face.
With Eleven, we didn’t get that chance. Everything changed, everything was new, and just like Amy we met a man we’d never seen before. We didn’t know anything of, in some way.
But Amy dreamt of that man, her raggedy Doctor, and believed in him; never forgot him. And all of a sudden, I started to believe in him as well; that he can do it. When he stepped through the Doctors’ holograms at the end of his first episode and said his ‘first’ words as now properly clothed, properly knowing-who-he-is Doctor, I felt that he’d touched my heart in that moment. “Hello, I’m the Doctor. Basically… RUN!”
Run he did. Oh so much. And we ran with him. Met monsters and aliens; old foes and new enemies. We met River again and learned of her origins, her story; we followed the romance of Amy and Rory through good times and bad times; we met Clara, the Impossible Girl.
And we saw Eleven become one of the most lovable Doctors.
Today I finally say something I never thought I’d say: I think “My Doctor” has changed.
Matt Smith was quirkier, funnier, sadder and madder than anyone probably ever thought he could be, that man of, back then, 26 years who was the youngest Doctor of them all. He put so much enthusiasm into that role that you just had to love him. I sure did. And do.
Every time a Doctor leaves, you don’t think the next one can exceed him. Every time you wonder how the show will go on without an actor who has made this show his, in his very unique way. Every time we are proven that there are people who can do it just as well, if not even better.
But this time, I’m not so sure. Matt brought in qualities not even David, as much as I still love him and his Doctor, had. There’s this range of emotions he seems to plays so easily; in this young man of now only 30 years there’s decades he mimes, from the young, mad boy to the angry and bitter old man, that weren’t there before, not as clear and accurate as with Matt now.
He made us laugh as often as he made our hearts break, and knowing all I do, and having been in the fandom for several years now, I believe that whoever follows him may just have the hardest time ever to take over.
Because no matter what happens and who’ll be number Twelve:
No one of us will forget who taught us that bow ties are cool.
Thank you, Matt Smith.
* This is not to undermine David Tennant’s importance, or Chris Eccleston’s. In my opinion especially David has a big part in Doctor Who becoming as popular as it is now, after its return. I also think that credit that Matt became this good has to go to David; his were huge footprints to follow in, because of said impact he had on the fandom, so Matt profited from this motivation to be accepted and loved by the fandom after taking over from David, which I think was by no means an easy job. Also did he profit from Doctor Who having been on for five years since its return to the TV screens, thus also having already found its rhythm, whereas the first seasons still walked on kind-of wobbly legs, careful not to destroy or insult a legacy (as it was said in the Confidentials also).