Matt Smith prepares for final Dr Who outing

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Matt Smith with Jenna-Louise Coleman
Matt Smith with Jenna-Louise Coleman

Matt Smith is clearly not 'most people', because on June 1, he announced his decision to step down as the Time Lord in Doctor Who, and is set to make his final appearance in the festive special.

Despite having appeared in BBC dramas Party Animals, The Ruby In The Smoke and The Shadow In The North, Smith was still largely unknown when he took over the lead role from David Tennant in 2010.

Now, he can't go anywhere without being recognised and admits, "I wear more hoods! I get muffled up going to Tesco after work and I haven't tried the Tube."

That's probably a wise move. It's estimated that more than 80 million people watch Doctor Who across the globe. And some fans can be rather obsessed about it, too (to put it mildly), so the thought of being trapped in an enclosed space with one of them is probably a little frightening.

"It's been very positive, actually," he says, when asked about fan reaction to his portrayal of the universe's most famous time traveller. "There is one woman who turns up from time to time, who keeps calling me a hedgehog, but that's about it really. Everybody's been very kind and generous."

And why not? Smith had the daunting task of stepping into the shoes of Tennant - who has just been voted the best Doctor ever, eclipsing even perennial favourite Tom Baker - but he quickly made the role his own.

"I spent most of my first week of filming thinking, 'Am I this man or not?'" he reveals. "It was a weird experience taking on this character, this icon, and I didn't know how to digest it.

"There were paparazzi everywhere, so it was initially a very difficult show to make. But eventually, you settle down and it becomes part of your routine, along with what you're going to have for lunch that day." Perhaps that's why Smith decided it was time to move on, so he can tackle other roles and avoid being typecast.

"If anything, the role opens up opportunities to do more varied work in the future.

"Look at David [Tennant], he's doing lots of things now," says Smith of the predecessor he recently appeared on screen with in the 50th anniversary episode The Day Of The Doctor.

Smith is now appearing in London's West End in a musical version of Bret Easton Ellis's novel American Psycho and has already filmed his Hollywood debut in Ryan Gosling's How To Catch A Monster, due for release next year.

He had to have a buzz cut hairstyle for the role, which means that in the Who Christmas special, he's actually wearing a wig.

Very little has been announced officially about the festive episode, but show runner Steven Moffat has revealed it will tie together some loose strands still dangling from the 11th Doctor's era.

"Steven has written a real belter for me to go out on and I had a great time filming it," says Smith. "It was quite sad at the end, obviously, when I had to leave, but I think we've got a really moving story, with a great sense of adventure in it. I'm pleased about that because it still feels like a classic adventure episode, with great monsters and a few twists."

We also know, of course, that by the time the end credits have rolled, Peter Capaldi will have become the 12th Doctor.

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