Fun, enigmatic, an ancient man trapped in a young body, the 11th Doctor was, for me, the epitome of what the Doctor should be. The perfect balance of charm and humanity whilst remaining undeniably alien, Matt Smith’s performance as our favourite Timelord was exciting, haunting and, most of all, amazing! Stepping into the fold over arguably the most popular Doctor ever, it’s surprising to think, looking back, that so many people had such little faith in the youngest ever actor to play the Doctor, and I’m not afraid to say I was one of them… Until his first scene, that is -
As you can see, I was indeed smitten. But why? What was it about Matt’s Doctor that became so infectiously lovable?
Without a doubt, beyond any of his predecessors, the 11th Doctor could give a damn good speech. Whether stood on top of a hospital, scolding the Atraxi or in the centre of Stone Henge, facing off a horde of deadly armies, the strange, floppy haired man in his bow tie knew how to use his words. Striking the balance between jovial and ‘don’t fuck with me’, Smiths performance drew on an incredible range of emotions, and never once felt forced.
Delivering some signature speeches during his time as the Doctor, it’s his take on memories and experiences in the climax of The Rings of Akhaten that really bring on the waterworks. Raw over the loss of the Ponds, and desperate to save thousands of people, the Doctor stands resolute against an entire sun and recalls every disturbing and painful memory he can muster in an effort to quell the beast, breaking into tears in the process.
Of course, a Doctor is nothing without his companions, and whilst we love Clara, the 11th Doctor wouldn’t have been the man he was without Amelia Pond, “The first face this face saw”. First meeting her as a scared young girl, the Doctor is reunited with Amelia, now Amy, 12 years later, and together they embark on a trip across the stars. Things may have got a little awkward for them, but Amy soon realised her heart belonged to her fiancé, Rory Williams, and the two are finally married, giving us the first ever married couple to travel together in the TARDIS. Of course, that wasn’t the end of the story, as Amy falls pregnant and is kidnapped by the crazed wing of a religious order dedicated to silencing the Doctor for something he hasn’t done yet (more on the later), giving us one of the most polarising, but I think interesting, characters since Doctor Who returned; Melody Pond, more commonly known as River Song!
In a story reminiscent of The Time Traveller’s Wife, The Doctor and River never quite meet in the right order, but romance is very much in the air, and it’s refreshing to see the man who’s usually the smartest person in the room reduced to a mumbling child at the mercy of a strong woman. Question is, will we get to see River face off against the older look, darker 12th Doctor… Man, I hope so!
As for the Ponds, Amy’s cameo during the 11th Doctor’s final moments was the surprising, heart-wrenching icing on the cake!
Hidden, over-reaching story arcs have been a part of Doctor Who since the show returned in 2005, but with a new showrunner came a whole other set of rules regarding continuing stories. From the outset of Series Five, we’re introduced to the cracks in the universe, and even with that series' conclusion, we’re still unsure what caused the TARDIS to explode and create the cracks in the first place, left only with the clue ‘Silence Will Fall’.
Fast forward to Series Six, and a mysterious race and religious order called The Silence kidnap a pregnant Amy and turn her child, River, into a psychopathic assassin to kill the Doctor, before he can reach ‘The Fields of Trenzalore’ and answer ‘the question that must never be answered’. Of course, the Doctor foils this plan too, by freeing the assassin and marrying her and we’re left only with the knowledge that someone out there is desperate to stop the question being answered.
Finally, the story that began in The Eleventh Hour comes full circle in Time of the Doctor when it’s revealed that the question, ‘Doctor Who?’ is the only thing the Timelords need to return. A return that will lead to the Time War breaking out again and the Universe ending. We discover, with grim realisation, that everything that’s happened to the 11th Doctor was as a result of a bitter endless war in his future. How’s that for story telling!
With a unique sense of style, including some questionable choices in headwear, one thing will always remain synonymous with the 11th Doctor, and that is the unquestionable truth that ‘Bow ties ARE cool!’ Matt’s signature catchphrase and look remained constant through a variety of costume changes, and became a symbol synonymous with the 11th Doctor, making the moment when he removes it in Time of the Doctor all that harder to bear.
To the exciting, heroic, social awkward, floppy haired Doctor who took the show through it’s 50th year, we’ve only one thing to say… “GERONIMO!”
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