News

‘Doctor Who’ Stars Lead Comic-Con Like Invasion

4/19/2010 12:01 AM Eastern

In another one of those
British talent invasions, the lead
talent behind the new Doctor
Who
— including Matt Smith,
the 11th Doctor — barnstormed
the U.S. last week supporting the
show ahead of its April 17 debut
on BBC America.

In New York, dashing 27-yearold
Smith, lovely 22-year-old
co-star Karen Gillan and lead
writer/honcho Steven Moffat did
screenings and panel sessions
three nights in a row, Monday-
Wednesday.

The first was at the Paley Center
for Media, then the Apple
Store in SoHo and, finally, a 370-
seat movie theater on the Lower
East Side.

The event on Wednesday night
was free to fans, first come, first
served. For a 7 p.m. screening of
the opening episode and postshow
chat session, fans started
lining up that morning.

The event felt like a mini Comic-
Con, the de rigueur destination for
shows like the Doctor Who franchise
because of the fan adoration
and word-of-mouth blog and
tweet testimonials that result.

“We really couldn’t have asked
for a nicer, more exuberant, more
glorious welcome,” Smith said
during the on-stage chat after the
screening Wednesday.

He and Moff at drilled into a key
early scene. Smith’s character has
just morphed into a new body. He
starts experimenting with food he
can tolerate without spitting out.
He finally finds something he
likes: fish fingers dipped in custard.
(A commentary on British
cuisine?)

Moffat said that since the episode
aired in the U.K. on April 3,
fans have been posting YouTube
videos of themselves eating fish
fingers in custard.

He said he might “make up
other ideas, in future episodes,”
to see what happens.

Smith said he ate 12 of the
dipped fish sticks, after retakes.
“My pet hate is people in scenes
that are meant to be eating but
don’t eat,” he said. “So I thought,
well, I’d better eat then.”

How were they? “Not that bad,”
he said, quietly.

USA Today Pop Candy blogger
Whitney Matheson noticed
more humor in this new version
of the decades-old British sci-fi
series.

“I think Doctor Who should be
funny,” Moffat said. “He’s one of
the — and possibly the only —
hero who’s completely mental.
He’s absolutely, genuinely, truly
mad. ... You feel he could be defusing
a bomb and forget that’s
what he’s doing and be distracted
by somebody’s shoelace.”

Despite that bomb reference,
Matheson asked if more humor
might mean less blood and explosions.

“It’s absolutely going to be terrifying,
trust me,” Moffat said.
“Fish fingers in custard is only the
beginning of the horrors we have
to show you.”

Next night was a screening
and panel in Los Angeles and
Friday night was a combo at
the C2E2 show in Chicago, all
in aid of getting the viewership
closer to U.K. levels. The opener
there on April 3 drew an average
7.7 million viewers, according
to the TV by the Numbers
Web site.

The best-ever Doctor Who episode
here averaged about 1.015
million in live and same-day ratings
— which was BBCA’s highest-
rated telecast ever; that was
this past January (for the final
appearance of Smith’s predecessor,
David Tennant, as the Doctor).
In the U.K., Tennant’s finale
drew 10.4 million. That’s a lot of
fish fingers.

September