New Doctor shows he's right man for the job

Actor Matt Smith had his first adventure in the Tardis last night. And Matthew Sweet believes he may be the best Time Lord yet

He died for us. He rose again. This is what Doctor Who does – or has done since 1966, when William Hartnell transformed into Patrick Troughton, complete with a new pair of pixie boots. These days, the Doctor's footwear doesn't regenerate with him. Audiences may be happy to accept a transdimensional police box piloted by a thousand-year-old man who can save the universe with a screwdriver – but a pair of Converse trainers rearranging their molecules into some Doc Martens? Get real.

Matt Smith's Doctor didn't have time to consider a new image until the closing moments of his inaugural episode, plumping for a bow-tie in the middle of a speech to a giant alien eyeball. Most of his predecessors spent their first episode fainting and mumbling continuity references, but the Doctor's new boss, Steven Moffat, wasn't having any of that.

Before his new body had quite solidified, the Time Lord's 11th incarnation had been smacked over the head with a cricket bat, handcuffed to a radiator, suspended by his fingertips from the door of the Tardis as it hurtled towards Big Ben, and established the properties of his new taste buds by walking into the nearest house and behaving like the stripy character in The Tiger Who Came to Tea. ("You're Scottish, fry something," he told the little girl in the kitchen – who was soon revealed to be his new companion, Amy Pond, a decade before her formal acceptance of the position.)

Moffat's story was built from elements familiar from the scripts he supplied to his predecessor, Russell T Davies: a hospital ward packed with twitching coma patients; a monster that hides in the peripheral vision of its victims; a portal to another world concealed in a child's bedroom. But this was more territory-marking than self-plagiarism: a signal that this programme is entering a more uncanny phase. As last night's principal monster emerged from its secret room in an ordinary house, taking the form of a blank-eyed man and a vicious-looking dog, everything felt creepily right.

And Moffat has clearly picked the right leading man. Like the Mona Lisa, Matt Smith has a twisty smile and barely discernable eyebrows. He has other things, too, that make him unlike the people you pass on the street: a thick messy lick of chestnut hair, an oddly acromegalous jaw, and a big bony forehead – the kind of facial escarpment rarely seen beyond the shores of Easter Island.

Last night he fell from the sky, gorged himself on fish fingers and custard, crashed a fire engine into a hospital, told Patrick Moore the secret of super-light-speed travel, and saved the world from an eyeball. But from the moment he appeared, dangling from the architrave of his time machine, the new boy demonstrated that he can more than fill the shoes of his predecessor. Matt Smith fights aliens. He wears tweed. He loves custard. He is the Doctor. And he might be more the Doctor than anyone who was the Doctor before.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
Fraud contributes 11p to a £2.00 box of half a dozen eggs
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the Jurassic World trailer
film

Video: The official full-length trailer for the Jurassic Park sequel has dropped – two days early

Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environment
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel your sales role is l...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Guru Careers: PR Account Manager / PR AM

£28 - 34k: Guru Careers: An ambitious PR Account Manager is needed to join a c...

Guru Careers: Web Content Editor / Web Editor

£35 - 45k: Guru Careers: A Web Content Editor / Web Editor is needed to join a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital