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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Lead Systems Developer / Software Developer

COMPETITIVE + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Lead Systems Developer / Sof...

Recruitment Genius: Social Media & Engagement Manager - French or German Speaker

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The world's leading financial services careers...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive - 6 Months Contract

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Digital Marketing Executive...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Senior Account Manager

40-45K DOE + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Manager / Senior Account Manag...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory