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Fast-tracked TARDIS

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As a belated Christmas gift for Aussie audiences, the creators of Doctor Who have finally made good use of the TARDIS and fast-tracked the annual Doctor Who Christmas special down under. It will be the first time local viewers will get to see the annual special so soon after their Northern Hemisphere counterparts. The seasonal special is a time-honoured tradition with UK viewers, screening there on Christmas Day.

Devotees of the long-running sci-fi series will be just 24 hours behind their British counterparts, with the ABC screening Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol at 7.30 tonight. And so closely guarded is the annual special, very little is given away about it in advance.

Matt Smith, the current and 11th doctor, was tight-lipped about the special, only willing to share with TV Guide snippets about how much he's enjoyed his first year in the role.

Despite being a little-known actor, fans of the cult show have embraced Smith as the time-travelling doctor.

And while he was initially nervous about tackling the role, executive producer Steven Moffat had no such qualms about casting Smith.

"The Doctor is a very special part, and it takes a very special actor to play him," Moffat said at the time.

"You need to be old and young at the same time, a boffin and an action hero, a cheeky schoolboy and the wise old man of the universe. As soon as Matt walked through the door, and blew us away with a bold and brand new take on the Time Lord, we knew we had our man."

The result has been a season which has attracted critical acclaim for Smith, and his companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) from both the media and fans.

So Moffat has pulled out all the stops for the Christmas special, which sees the Doctor, Pond and her new husband Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) in a timetravelling take on Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol.

In the tradition of Doctor Who Christmas specials, the show has a stellar guest-star line-up including veteran Irish actor Michael Gambon (Harry Potter's latest Dumbledore) and Welsh opera diva Katherine Jenkins in her first screen acting role.

"We're going for broke with this one.

It's all your favourite Christmas movies at once, in an hour, with monsters and the Doctor and a honeymoon and - oh, you'll see," Moffat teases.

For Smith, it caps a triumphant start to the role.

"I've always wanted to be a part of a Christmas show that's filmed in the middle of summer, just to have fake snow," Smith jests. "It was wonderful to be part of the heritage of being in a Christmas special, and for it to be Doctor Who and to have the family sit around and watch it feels exciting."

The cherry on the top for Smith was getting to work with Jenkins and Gambon. "Michael Gambon is one of my acting heroes, so to work with him was a great privilege for me," Smith says.

Smith is keeping mum on details of the show.

"I can't give away too much, to be brutally honest, because I want it to be a surprise for everyone," he says.

"It's very Christmassy and there's lots of snow and Christmas trees, coupled with the madness of Doctor Who. A real belter, I think."

Doctor Who has always found a responsive audience among its core fans, but in recent months, the Doctor's influence has become more evident, with a rise in popularity of wearing a bow tie - a signature part of the 11th Doctor's costume.

Although it's a safe bet the sudden surge in sales of an item previously worn mostly by mathematicians and anaesthetists is because of the good Doctor, Smith is modest about it.

"I'm told sales have gone up in certain department stores in England, but I don't know if that's actually down to me," he says. "I think bow ties are cool, as does the Doctor. So if the Doctor has anything to do with that, I know he'd be very pleased."

In Doctor Who mythology, a Time Lord such as the Doctor can regenerate only 13 times. Back in 1976 when this limit was established, the possibility of achieving 13 Doctors seemed preposterously remote. Now that he has reached his 11th incarnation, fans are increasingly concerned the Doctor may soon run out of time.

Smith eagerly allays those concerns.

"I think you can find a way around anything in Doctor Who," he says.

"I'm sure there's a way to make it go on infinitely somewhere, if they could find some magic crystal or something.

Who knows?"

And he has no intentions of regenerating any time soon: "I'm very content and happy to be number 11."

And although you'd think the assembled masses of Doctor Who fans at conventions would be the strangest part of the job, Smith finds the job itself weird. "It's things like getting covered in slime and running away from monsters that are never there. Things like that are bizarre, but good fun."

With the sixth season of the new series already in production, Smith can only promise more intrigue. "All I can say is there are more mysteries to come - ones you can't even fathom."

At least fans won't be waiting alone.

Smith is also looking forward to some big reveals. "I can't wait, either, because I don't know yet. Steven [Moffat] won't tell a soul, not a soul on the planet."

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol, Sunday, 7.30pm, ABC1

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  • APA 6th ed.: Clarke, Alice (2010-12-26). Fast-tracked TARDIS. The Sunday Telegraph p. Magazine, p. 3.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Clarke, Alice. "Fast-tracked TARDIS." The Sunday Telegraph [add city] 2010-12-26, Magazine, p. 3. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Clarke, Alice. "Fast-tracked TARDIS." The Sunday Telegraph, edition, sec., 2010-12-26
  • Turabian: Clarke, Alice. "Fast-tracked TARDIS." The Sunday Telegraph, 2010-12-26, section, Magazine, p. 3 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Fast-tracked TARDIS | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Fast-tracked_TARDIS | work=The Sunday Telegraph | pages=Magazine, p. 3 | date=2010-12-26 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 October 2019 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Fast-tracked TARDIS | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Fast-tracked_TARDIS | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 October 2019}}</ref>