Dear Matt Smith:
This weekend we learned, to our dismay, that you would be leaving the show that catapulted you to fame and allowed the world to finally witness your amazing talent, Doctor Who. As a proper Whovian, I would like to say on behalf of everyone who is, has ever been, or ever will be a fan: thank you.
When the longest running sci-fi show on television received the green-light on a reboot back in 2005, no one thought it would end up like this: in the last 8 years, Doctor Who has garnered fan support from not only a British community, but a global one. Part of this had to do with the world finally being ready for a show as fantastically sizable as Who, part of it had to do with the amazing, fairytale-like storylines that captured our imagination and nested themselves inside our psyches, and part of it had to do with the actors.
Yes, the actors. Christopher Eccleston burst onto the scene in the episode ‘Rose’; he effortlessly made us fall back in love with the idea of The Doctor. We realized that certain events had transpired, away from the TARDIS and unbeknownst to us all, that had hardened The Doctor’s heart and turned him into someone different, someone steely and cold, but still willing to be the hero we knew him to be deep down. When he regenerated after one meager season, we weren’t sure of the show’s future. Who would take the reins (no pun intended, of course)?
The job fell to the charming David Tennant. He swept us (and Billie Piper’s Rose) off our feet. We laughed at his Disney references and his “samba” moves; our hearts ached when he talked about Gallifrey. We cried when Martha left him and when he erased Donna’s memories forever. We broke when he lost Rose for a second time because the pain in his eyes was so real that it felt tangible. And then he heaved himself back into the TARDIS one last time and whispered, “I don’t want to go”. Truth be told, we didn’t want him to either.
But then… then. Suddenly, in a flare of light, The Doctor regenerated again and a now-familiar face melted through the explosions and breaking glass: Matt Smith had arrived and there was no stopping him, no second wasted, and no time lost. Our hearts mended a bit in that moment.
When The Doctor crash landed in Leadworth, in the backyard of a little girl named Amelia Pond (a superhero), and promptly proceeded to ransack her kitchen in search of fish-fingers and custard, we knew we were in for a treat. And oh, the adventures.
Vampires in Venice, the return of the Weeping Angels, Craig, and, of course, our very favorite River Song, the only woman who could ever marry The Doctor: “The flirting“, Madame Kovarian once complained, “…do I have to watch?!” Of course we watched. We loved it. There were dinosaurs (on a spaceship!), an impossible hotel, an impossible girl, an impossible task (to reset the Universe); Daleks stalked your every move and you, Amy, and heroic Rory nearly went out looking like a Peruvian folk band. Karen Gillian’s brilliant Amy Pond had us curled up in the fetal position on the floor with her farewell letter:
“…Tell [little Amelia] she’ll go to sea and fight pirates. She’ll fall in love with a man who’ll wait two thousand years to keep her safe. Tell her she’ll give hope to the greatest painter who ever lived. And save a whale in outer space. Tell her, this is the story of Amelia Pond… and this is how it ends.”
We all cried with you, not just because of the words, but because you made them more than lines on a page. You made them real. The pain, the twinge of guilt, the sensation of your throat tightening and the ache in your chest blooming like someone has scooped out your heart and left a heavy weight in its place, you made us feel them instead of just knowing them.
And then, when you couldn’t save The Impossible Girl, Clara Oswin Oswald, the Little-Dalek-Who-Could, we wanted to reach through the screen and steady you. When you cried in anguish, “I have lost things you will never understand”, and the years of hatred and loathing, salt and grief ran down your face, not even the toughest of Whovians were ashamed to say that they broke down in front of their TV. sets and bawled like a baby.
But there were happier moments as well: in your hurry to rescue Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All, you left us reeling in laughter. A toy helicopter was the perfect gift (for only £49.99), which you thought was a bit steep, “But then again, it’s your parent’s cash and they’ll only waste it on boring stuff like lamps and vegetables. Yaaawn!” We giggled like schoolgirls because Doctor Song definitely had that face on again, you know, the “he’s-hot-when-he’s-clever” face. You split our sides with your request that your tea be served strong, “with the bag in” because that was just how a bad-ass cowboy would take his tea right before hopping on the back of his horse, Susan (he only wanted you to respect his life choices, Doctor).
Then once again, when you urged Clara to find her way to you in the darkness, and then enveloped her like a small child, your exclamation, “Clara—MY Clara!” left a knot in our throats. When you lost Amy and Rory in that cold, lonely graveyard, even brave Melody Pond couldn’t drive away the emotions that followed; the phrase, “goodbye, Raggedy Man” was something we hoped we wouldn’t be repeating anytime soon.
But, now, here we are: you and me on the last page.
When you’re up there on stage in a few years, accepting an Oscar or a BAFTA, don’t forget us. We certainly will be keeping an eye on our favorite Doctor—because that’s who you were; Matt Smith, The Doctor. You didn’t play him, you were him, and we will always love that about you. Your ability to create a persona so tangible and so effortlessly real will carry you far in your career and all of us Whovians can’t wait to see what you do next.
So, thank you, Matthew Robert Smith. Thank you for your stories, for your good humor, for your spirit and tireless efforts to bring The Doctor to life for a whole new generation of fans. There will be days in the near future where you’ll undoubtedly wake up thinking you’re still in the TARDIS. Oh, that Blue Box (the bluest blue ever)…you’ll dream about it. It will never leave you.
I know you don’t like endings, but it seems like our time is up. Thank you. Thank you for The Eleventh Doctor, for bow-ties and tweed, for Fish-Fingers and Custard.
Somewhere down the road, someone is going to ask you, “What can you tell us about the role that changed your life?”” You remember to sit them down and tell them, quite cleverly, the story of The Doctor and The TARDIS. Because “we’re all stories in the end“.
…Just make it a good one, eh?