With the impending Doctor Who exit of Matt Smith only two weeks away, show runner Steven Moffat has paid tribute to the actor in an emotional and heartfelt goodbye speech.
Matt Smith, the eleventh Doctor (or possibly thirteenth, we will find out on Christmas Day) announced his decision to leave the hugely popular BBC family sci-fi series back in June this year.
Before taking his final bow he lead an all-star cast as the show marked its 50th birthday in an epic special episode, surrounded by previous Doctors, companions and monsters, in what has to be one of the best departing gifts either he, or the fans could have asked for.
But, now that all the celebrations are over the focus has switched back to this Christmas Day where Smith will regenerate into his successor, The Thick Of It star Peter Capaldi, but before that happens Moffat has delivered a very touching tribute to the actor.
Addressing a panel of journalists, and fans during last month’s official 50th anniversary celebrations held at London’s ExCel, Moffat thanked Smith for his contributions, saying:
“There’s the fiction of it and the changeover of Doctors, which is moving at a fictional level, but I’m losing a really good friend. It’s a very real and human thing. I’m sitting here knowing that this is the very last time that I’ll ever be on a Doctor Who panel with Matt – and we have done so many.
“We’ve had so many adventures… from the terrifying beginning when Matt had to go outside and say, ‘Does anybody want me to sign anything?’ and nobody knew who he was. In that first year, I had ‘Not Russell’ carved in my forehead and Matt had ‘Not David’ carved in his and everyone just thought we were idiots.
“We just plodded around trying to make Doctor Who and people were saying, ‘You’re so not making Doctor Who!’ – up to the moment where it hit and it became a huge thing. It is Matt’s Doctor that has taken Doctor Who to the rest of the world – that is this man’s achievement. Let’s be clear about that.
“There are occasionally – among sillier Doctor Who fans – attempts to say that [the show] is doing less well than it used to. Doctor Who has never ever come as close to doing as well as it is right now. So much of that is down to Matt. So much of it is the international appeal of this man – he is the Doctor.
“Honestly, you can ask as many people as you like, dig as deep as you like – you will never ever find a negative story about Matt Smith. You simply will not. Everybody adores him.
“He makes the crew work faster. Marcus Wilson [the producer] would always get him to the set quicker than he needed to, just ‘cos Matt’s presence gets everybody energised. He is tireless – not just in his performances, but with the extra demands of being a leading man, of being the company leader. He is so good at that and yet he works so hard at his own performance.
“I will miss my friend [and] I will miss the most tireless and inventive actor I have ever worked with.”
After this emotional declaration, it was Smith’s turn to repay the compliment to both Moffat, and fans saying:
“I’ve been lucky. Steven’s my greatest friend in this industry as a result of having had four years with him and not only that… the brilliant mind that is The Moff… the imagination… think of the monsters he’s brought us, the characters… just the constant invention that is wild and unabashed and breaking new ground the whole time.
“I’m really sad, because you leave your best friends to go and do something else with people who aren’t your best friends, which is annoying! You’re like, ‘You’re not Jenna and Steven, ya weirdos!’
“But thanks Moff and Jenna and everyone who’s worked with me… and thanks to all [the fans] – it’s been the best time. Thank you for having me.”
Doctor Who returns on Christmas Day at 7.30pm on BBC1 / BBC1 HD where Smith will make his final appearance as the Time Lord – Watch the official teaser trailer for the episode, The Tine of the Doctor, in the clip below: