Inevitably it was moments after Matt Smith was announced as the Doctor that the press published its first reactions to the casting. As one might expect, the initial reports were mainly based around the BBC Press Release and comments within Doctor Who Confidential itself. However, as the evening/morning progressed further media comment began to emerge, a selection of which are reported below.
Andrew Pettie of the Telegraph commented on how Doctor Who is a 'savvy multi-million-pound brand' and how casting has become a major news event. "... Doctor Who is a success primarily because it is so effortlessly entertaining. This is in large part due to the elasticity of its sci-fi premise. Thanks to the Tardis, the Doctor can travel anywhere in space or time. One moment he's rubbing shoulders with Shakespeare, the next battling aliens far in the future. And the Doctor has a further ace up his sleeve: the ability to change not just the actor playing him, but the nature of his character. ... Which is why Matt Smith is such a bold and exciting choice as the next Doctor. His relative lack of fame shouldn't matter a jot. It's hard to recall now, but before he regenerated as the Doctor, Tennant's most high-profile TV role had been in the BBC3 drama Casanova, written by Davies. Indeed, the key to Tennant's success as the Doctor has been how the crackle of his performances has matched the exuberance of the scripts."
The Independent commented on what fandom might think of the casting: "Smith is not black and he's not a woman, which left some fans wondering why a more daring decision had not been made; but he is the youngest of the 11 actors to have played 'official' versions of the time-travelling Doctor who first stepped out of that battered blue police box called the Tardis in 1963. ... Smith now faces the challenge of winning over two passionate camps: the families who sit together to watch on the sofa on a Saturday night and the hard-core Whovians, some of whom still complain that the lavish effects, high production values and often superb scripts of the modern version are somehow a betrayal of their hero. The Doctor Who Forum online was so busy last night that only veteran contributors could get in. Elsewhere, blogging fans admitted they didn't know much about Smith. 'He's so young,' said one. 'They must be going for the Twilight market.'"
The Sunday Herald also carries opinions on the casting, with Antony Wainer from DWAS commenting: "It's a different choice and I'm delighted by it. But I do think it has taken some people by surprise. The shadow of David Tennant looms large. He was so great, which makes the job for the next person even harder. But here's someone who is younger, and with that youth comes more enthusiasm. It is the only way you could trump Tennant." Also from Glasgow South MP and Who fan Tom Harris: "In the Whovian community there's a huge amount of respect for Steven Moffat because he's been the best writer for the past three or four years. So any people with reservations will give Smith the benefit of the doubt because he was Steven's choice."
Matthew Sweet commented in the Guardian: "The idea of a black or woman Doctor is something we only seem to be able to enjoy as a tease. When Tom Baker left, for example, there was speculation about Joanna Lumley taking over. There is a little part of me that's disappointed the Obama effect hasn't reached Gallifrey yet. This was one of the best kept secrets. Matt Smith has got a fascinating face. It's long and bony, with a commanding jaw. He looks like someone who could have been in Duran Duran. He has a quality of the old man trapped in the young man's body. I suspect he might be a more sensual character than David Tennant, who had no kind of dangerous sexuality about him. There's something Byronic about Matt Smith – he's got the lips for it." The paper also carries a comment by former companion Sophie Aldred: "I'm delighted. I'm so pleased that they haven't chosen a big name but gone with someone who's obviously a good actor but not well known to the public at large. He's got a very interesting face and a fantastic presence. It's going to be a difficult job to follow David Tennant, but I think he'll be a safe pair of hands."
The News of the World decided to lead with Smith's intimate appearance alongside former Doctor Who companion Billie Piper in her show, The Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
Other reports on the casting may be read from: Times(1), Times(2), Telegraph, Mail, Sun, Sunday Mirror, Scotsman, Glasgow Sunday Mail, Wales on Sunday. You can find many more media reports on this and other topics in the Doctor Who Forum's Media Watch thread (linked below)!