Doctor Who: in support of Matt Smith
Staggeringly, some are suggesting that Matt Smith should be replaced in Doctor Who. He shouldn't. And here's why.
There seems to be a lot of nonsense going around at the moment surrounding Doctor Who.
Firstly, there was the whole Johnny Depp being cast as the Doctor in a movie story of last week, which has now been debunked by all concerned. But more depressingly, the ratings for Doctor Who are being pored over, and in some quarters being portrayed as a massive disappointment.
Much of this surrounds the fact that the Doctor Who finale, The Big Bang, got overnight ratings of 5.1m viewers, revealed the day after the show was broadcast.
As Stephen Bray noted in his article yesterday, this number doesn’t include those who watch the show on a catch-up service, nor the many who would have caught the later transmission on BBC Three. Instead, those 5.1 million viewers are being portrayed as a big failure for the show. Sigh. It’s not. But again, Stephen explains that better than I could.
The most depressing thing about it is that it’s thrown up one or two stories questioning whether Matt Smith should continue in the role, with William Hill apparently offering 9/2 odds on him being replaced.
Seriously? Is anyone actually pushing for this to happen?
Let’s make this utterly clear: Matt Smith should definitely carry on. Firstly, it’s surely not even remotely serious that his tenure is being questioned, given that he’s given an astonishingly varied performance across his first series in the role (bringing in a little of the cantankerous charm of Patrick Troughton in the process). Most seem to be in agreement that he’s a strong actor, and an outstanding casting coup, and the show is all the better for having him.
No, he’s not David Tennant, but that’s rightly how the show works. He’s an entirely different take on the same character, and has done quite outstanding work for my money. I distinctly remember too that David Tennant has his fair share of detractors in his first series run, and many of those were won over. Those expecting a Tennant photocopy in the casting of the 11th Doctor? I'm glad they've been disappointed.
But the problem here isn’t, I don’t think, that Matt Smith isn’t winning people over. Instead, it’s the narrow approach to looking at viewing figures, combined with the knee-jerk need to generate a story off the back of them.
So let’s just say it: that 5.1 million number would have been a disappointment (and of course the BBC would have wanted more viewing it on the night). But not by the time the rest of the viewership – including those record iPlayer numbers, remember – has been factored in. Doctor Who has, as we’ve noted here, been treated as a scheduling football this year by the BBC, and it’s been up against warm weather and the football too. And it’s still emerged in excellent health.
The show, as many seem to agree, has rarely been in better hands. And if anyone at the BBC is seriously considering replacing Matt Smith, then these three words are for you: you’re a fool.
Fortunately, I suspect that they’re not, that the BBC isn’t daft, and it knows a good thing when it sees one. Matt Smith firmly falls into that camp, and I for one can’t wait to see what he and Steven Moffat do with the character of the Doctor next series.
Because I'll bet you right now that he's still at the controls of the Tardis in twelve months' time.