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Who's Scrooge

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CHRISTMAS came early for Matt Smith when he got to star in his first Doctor Who festive special.

Five months early, to be exact, which is when they filmed the episode. But that didn't dampen Matt's childlike glee in the slightest. "I even got to come down the chimney!" laughs Matt in delight.

Since the character was so successfully revived in 2005, it has become a Time Lord tradition to have a special episode on Christmas Day, and Matt was eagerly awaiting his debut.

"I've always wanted to be part of the Christmas Doctor Who experience," he confides. "And I think this is certainly one of the most Christmassy and inventive Doctor Who stories so far.

"Steven Moffat just keeps getting even more imaginative. The great thing about this episode is that when Doctor Who and Christmas are put together, you combine the spirit of both those things.

"It feels very Dickensian, though set in a mad futuristic world. It's a fun old yarn which evolves into something more magical than your classic monster episode. And the Doctor simply loves Christmas."

So, too, does Matt, who will be spending the day at home with his family in Northampton - "watching Doctor Who, of course!" he says.

"I imagine we'll have a big lunch first and then we'll watch the episode.

"Last year was weird, because I watched that Doctor Who Christmas special with my mum and dad and my sister, and I was just sort of going: 'Oh dear Lord, I'm going to turn into Doctor Who'. It was quite an odd experience. Exciting, though."

The special starts with Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) on their honeymoon, though being time-travellers they couldn't just go to the Caribbean like normal couples.

They head off on honeymoon on a spaceship which inevitably gets into trouble and needs to make an emergency landing on a nearby planet.

Fortunately the Doctor is there to save them - and to take on a horrible monster, in the form of a shark.

"I was very excited about the wonderful shark," reveals Matt. "I've always wanted to explore the aquatic. Viewers can expect Jaws with a twist!" Matt says he loved working with Michael Gambon and singer Katherine Jenkins.

"It was a real privilege to work with Michael," explains Matt.

"I had a great time with him and he was really naughty! He's so crafty.

"When I asked him about working with iconic actors such as Olivier and Bates, he said the one thing they all had in common was that they were naughty - and he's exactly the same. He was very mischievous, constantly telling jokes and getting into the spirit of play.

"He plays a Scrooge-like miser, and to play an old grump there is no-one better than Gambon! But Michael also really makes you feel for this man and he can somehow turn himself into a little boy at times. He's a very impressive actor.

"With Katherine I was astounded by her professionalism," he adds.

"Considering it was her first acting experience I thought she handled it with real craft and diligence.

"She looks like a princess and, boy, can she sing. The way she controls her voice and the grace with which she sings is quite incredible."

Katherine clearly knows how to disguise her nerves, because she confides: "I wasn't sure I could do it. I was very nervous and felt out of my comfort zone, because I hadn't done any acting before. But the team were so welcoming and supportive, they made me feel I could do it." Katherine didn't just have to pretend to be a young woman frozen in an ice chamber, she also had to pretend to be festive even though it was July.

"It certainly felt very Christmassy, even filming it in summer!" laughs the star, who is selflessly spending her Christmas entertaining the troops in Afghanistan.

"The story is very emotional, which I hope is going to touch people."

So, after 900 Christmases, what could you possibly get the Doctor as a present? Writer Steven Moffat laughs: "He's got a Tardis! He's got all of time and space. You really don't have to give him anything. He just larks about. He's got the ideal life.

"He's got it sorted."

GRAPHIC: GOOD YARN: Matt Smith says this year's Christmas episode feels very Dickensian - yet set in a 'mad futuristic world' GRACEFUL: From left, Michael Gambon, Matt Smith and Katherine Jenkins, also below, who was nervous about her acting debut

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  • APA 6th ed.: (2010-12-19). Who's Scrooge. Sunday Mercury p. 7.
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