The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Who Are You

So. The next Doctor Who. How do I feel? Well, disappointed that it wasn’t my choice, JJ Field. But other than that, delighted. I have every confidence Piers and Steven know what they’re doing and he’ll be fabulous.

The extraordinary thing about his casting is that he’s a virtual unknown, given that most BBC shows are cast from the same pool of about a hundred actors. It’s usually a deal-breaker in whether a show gets made; received wisdom being you need familiar faces to draw an audience, and the more you have, the better. Which is fine, except for the small inconvenient fact that it doesn’t work.

What’s exciting about Matt Smith is we have no idea how he’ll play the role. If they’d gone with a familiar face you’d know what sort of performance they’d give from the outset. Which wouldn’t be half as much fun.

The fact that they’ve gone with an unknown – though I imagine he’s got enough stuff pipelined for him to be more widely recognised by 2009 – demonstrates how confident they are in the show and in Matt. If that means fans become nervous about whether he’ll be a success, then that’s as it should be. That odd, anxious sensation you’re feeling is what’s known as ‘excitement’.

The show itself was the usual parade of clips and music, apparently selected entirely at random, you can find a hundred better efforts on YouTube. In years to come we’ll remember the show for Russell’s incongruous leopard, the fact that David Tennant’s pyjamas suggested he’d been dragged out of bed (and that Piers seemed to have been dragged out of his death-bed). My sympathy, though, goes out to Steven, stuck in front of a camera, trying desperately to think of something nice to say about Sylvester McCoy.

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