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Matt Smith
Article-1276604477760-0101A90B00000578-190564 304x456
Born Matthew Robert Smith

28 October 1982 (age 30) Northampton, England, UK

Occupation Actor
Years active 2003–present


Matthew Robert Smith (born 28 October 1982)[1] is an English stage and television actor. He is known for his role as the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor in the British television seriesDoctor Who, for which he received a BAFTA Award nomination in 2011.

He initially aspired to be a professional footballer, but a back injury forced him out of the sport. After joining the National Youth Theatre and studying Drama and Creative Writing at theUniversity of East Anglia, Smith became an actor in 2003, performing in plays like Murder in the Cathedral, Fresh Kills, The History Boys and On the Shore of the Wide World in London theatres. Extending his repertoire into West End theatre, he has since performed in the stage adaptation of Swimming with Sharks with Christian Slater,[3] followed a year later by a critically acclaimed performance as Henry in That Face.[4]

Before his role in Doctor Who, Smith's first television role came in 2006 as Jim Taylor in the BBC adaptations of Phillip Pullman's The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the Northwhile his first major role in television came as Danny in the 2007 BBC series Party Animals. Smith, who was cast as the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor in January 2009, is the youngest person to play the character in the British television series.[5][6] He has most recently appeared in the 2011 BBC television film Christopher and His Kind playing Christopher Isherwood.


Smith was born and brought up in Northampton where he attended Northampton School for Boys, a state comprehensive secondary school. He had planned to be a professional football player, having played for the youth teams of Northampton Town F.C., Nottingham Forest F.C.and Leicester City F.C.[7] After a serious back injury, his drama teacher, Jerry Hardingham,[1] introduced him to acting by surreptitiously signing him up as the tenth juror in an adaptation of Twelve Angry Men.[8] Although he took part in the play, he declined going to a drama festival that his teacher had signed him up for.[8] His drama teacher persisted, and eventually persuaded him to join the National Youth Theatre in London. After leaving school, Smith studied Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.[8] He has cited his favourite band, Radiohead, as an inspiration: "That’s what I want when I go to the theatre, when I’m in a play, is them, and that experience that I get from them."[9]

Early life and educationEdit

Smith's first theatre roles came as part of the National Youth Theatre were Thomas Becket in Murder in the Cathedral and Basoon in The Master and Margarita. His role in the latter earned him an agent and his first professional jobs: Fresh Kills and On the Shore of the Wide World. His new professional roles led to him being required to seek an agreement with his university so that he could graduate without attending lectures in his final two terms.[10]

He is a supporter of Blackburn Rovers F.C.[11]

Professional acting careerEdit

During his tenure in On the Shore of the Wide World, the play transferred to the Royal National Theatre in London. After finishing the play, he took on the role of Lockwood, a pupil in the Alan Bennett play The History Boys. After The History Boys, he would act in the teen playBurn/Chatroom/Citizenship and Swimming with Sharks; the latter being his West End début, with Christian Slater.[8][10] His first television role was as Jim Taylor in the BBC adaptations of the Sally Lockhart quartet books The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North, opposite Billie Piper in the lead role; he acted with Piper a third time in an episode of Secret Diary of a Call Girl.[12]

Party AnimalsEdit

Smith's first major television role came in the television series Party Animals, a BBC television drama series about fictional parliamentaryadvisors and researchers in Westminster. In Party Animals, Smith portrays Danny Foster, a parliamentary researcher to Jo Porter (Raquel Cassidy), the Labour Party Home Office junior minister. At 26 years old, Danny is described as an intelligent but timid "politics geek" who should have moved on from researching at his age. Within the series' narrative, he attempts to balance his affections for Kirsty MacKenzie (Andrea Riseborough), his intern, while trying to prevent Porter's imminent decline.[13]

In an interview in 2007, Smith discussed his character's motivations. He summarised Danny as having a romantic outlook of the political world while being cynical elsewhere. The character was drawn into politics by his father and his own political drive. He defended his character's age by characterising him as being loyal to Porter, instead of being incompetent. He talked about his character's emotional and intellectual maturity: emotionally, he lacks confidence around women—most notably seen with his unrequited love towards Kirsty—but Smith portrays Danny as a caring and sensitive but "wry, sarcastic, [and] witty" romantic; and intellectually, Danny is portrayed as attentive and of possessing a strong work ethic.[14]

That FaceEdit

In 2007, Smith appeared as Henry in the critically acclaimed Polly Stenham play That Face at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in Chelseawith Lindsay Duncan as Henry's alcoholic mother, Martha, and Felicity Jones—later Hannah Murray—as Henry's drug-addicted sister, Mia. The play transferred to the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End in 2008 and became Smith's second role there. That Face focuses primarily upon alcohol and drug addiction in an upper-middle-class family after the paternal figure in the family leaves. As Henry, Smith portrayed an aspiring artist who left school to take care of his mother. To prepare for the role, the cast interviewed alcoholics and their families. Smith discussed his character's relationship with his mother in an interview with the Evening Standard:[8]

The thing I find tricky to get my head round is why doesn't he just leave? An awful lot of it is codependency. [...] With Henry there's a real belief—or denial maybe—that he can change his mother. When she is finally pulled away from him to go to rehab, his identity collapses. His sacrifice has been for nothing.

—Matt Smith, 6 May 2008, "That face to watch", Evening Standard[8]

The entire cast of the play was nominated for the 2008 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre,[15] and Smith won the Evening Standard's award for "best newcomer" for his role.[16] Upon its transfer to the West End, the play was critically acclaimed, with Smith's performance as Henry highlighted as one of the positive aspects of the play by critics for The Evening Standard,The Daily Express, The Guardian and The Times.[17]

Doctor WhoEdit

[1]Doctor Who filming, with Matt Smith asEleventh Doctor, and Karen Gillan as Amy Pond

Smith was cast as the Eleventh Doctor in the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who in January 2009[19] to replace David Tennant, who announced his departure in October 2008.[20]Smith was a relatively unknown actor compared to the actors then speculated about possibly taking on the role, who included Paterson Joseph, David Morrissey,Sean Pertwee, James Nesbitt, Russell Tovey, Catherine Zeta Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Robert Carlyle and Billie Piper.[21] Smith was first named as a possible successor less than a day before he was announced as the Eleventh Doctor, on the 3 January 2009 edition of BBC Breakfast among the names speculated about.[22] His obscurity prompted the news headline "Doctor Who?", a pun on the show's title.[23][24][25]

Smith was one of the earliest actors to audition for the role, performing on the first day. The production team, consisting of the incoming producer, Steven Moffat, and BBC Wales Head of Drama and executive producer, Piers Wenger, immediately singled him out based on his performance.[19] Smith additionally auditioned for the role of John Watson in the Moffat-createdSherlock, undergoing auditions at the same time; he was unsuccessful, as Moffat believed his eccentric acting style was closer to Holmes, whose role had already been given to Benedict Cumberbatch.[26] At 26 years old, Smith was three years younger than Peter Davison was at the time of his casting as the Doctor in 1981, and younger than any other actor suggested for the role.[19] After three weeks of auditions, Moffat and Wenger agreed that it had "always been Matt" and approached him to accept the role.[19] The BBC were cautious about casting him because they felt that a 26-year-old could not play the Doctor adequately; Wenger shared the same sentiment but thought Smith had proven his acting quality in Party Animals, which Wenger thought highlighted Smith's "mercurial qualities".[18][19] Some fans of the show believed that Smith was inexperienced and too young for the role, while others supported him by citing his demonstrated acting ability.[27] For his performance in his first series he was nominated in the Outstanding Drama Performance Category of the National Television Awards.[28]

In June 2010, he appeared on stage with Orbital, and performed with them a version of the Doctor Who theme, at the Glastonbury Festival.[29] Smith hosted the Doctor Who Prom at the Royal Albert Hall on 24–25 July 2010.[30] In June 2011, the BBC announced that Smith had been signed to film a further fourteen episodes of Doctor Who as the Doctor.[31]

CreditsEdit

Film and television credits
Title Year Medium Role Notes
The Ruby in the Smoke 2006 Television film Jim Taylor
Party Animals 2007 Television series Danny Foster
In Bruges 2007 Feature film Young Harry Scenes were deleted; available on DVD out-takes
Secret Diary of a Call Girl 2007 Television series Tim Series 1, episode 6
The Street 2007 Television series Ian Hanley Episodes: "Demolition"[32] and "Taxi"
The Shadow in the North 2009 Television film Jim Taylor
Moses Jones 2009 TV miniseries DS Dan Twentyman
Together[33][34][35] 2009 Short film Rob
Womb[36] 2010 Feature film Thomas Production began March 2009[37]
Doctor Who 2010–present Television series The Doctor Lead role, series 5 (2010) and 6 (2011) and 7 (2012)[38]
The Sarah Jane Adventures[39][40] 2010 Television series The Doctor Series 4, episodes 5 and 6: Death of the Doctor[41]
Christopher and His Kind 2011 Television film Christopher Isherwood
The Coswolds 2011-present TV series Manter Coswold 3rd role, voice only. Series 1-present
Bert and Dickie[42] 2012 Television film Bert Bushnell Production begins in August 2011
Theatre credits
Title Duration Role Theatre
Murder in the Cathedral 2003 Thomas Becket
The Master and Margarita 2004 Basoon Lyric Hammersmith, London
Fresh Kills 2004 Arnold Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London
On the Shore of the Wide World 2005 Paul Danzinger
The History Boys 2005–2006 Lockwood National Theatre, London
Burn/Chatroom/Citizenship 2006 Tom/William/Gary National Theatre, London
That Face 2007 Henry Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London
Swimming with Sharks 2007–2008 Guy Vaudeville Theatre, London
That Face 2008 Henry Duke of York's Theatre, London
Voice credits in video games
Title Year Role Notes
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games 2010 The Doctor Episodic video game
Doctor Who: Return to Earth 2010 The Doctor Nintendo Wii video game
Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth 2010 The Doctor Nintendo DS video game
The Coswolds Game 2012 Manter Coswold XBOX 360, PS3 game

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