Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

Review: Matt Smith's first Doctor Who story

Matt Smith and Karen Gillan in a scene from Doctor Who
It's Matt Smith's debut as the 11th Doctor, with new companion (Karen Gillan)

Entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba takes a look at Matt Smith's first outing as the 11th Doctor.

As an episode, this has a few boxes to tick.

It has to introduce a new Doctor - as Matt Smith takes over from the hugely popular David Tennant - and a new companion.

It also has to sustain the momentum the series has built up since its return in 2005. For the most part, it does this well.

The plot picks up with the newly-regenerated Doctor crashing his Tardis into a young girl's garden. This being Doctor Who, an alien threat isn't far away.

As a story it veers between witty and creepy, and speeds along as well as the best episodes of the past few years.

Matt Smith's Doctor is quirky and energetic, perhaps bringing the most alien interpretation to the role.

He is frequently clumsy and uncoordinated in his physical approach, while mentally firing off ideas in all directions.

The episode is not instantly accessible to non-Who fans as it's just too complex, but as the series continues it may prove ultimately more satisfying.

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Lizo Mzimba meets the new Doctor - actor Matt Smith

Karen Gillan as the Doctor's new companion, Amy Pond, has more instant appeal. She is full of qualities designed to make her popular with the audience - feisty, brave and funny.

Ultimately, it is her relationship with the Doctor that has to power the series and, on the evidence of this first episode, there is certainly potential.

The remaining 12 episodes will mix classic Who monsters - including the return of the Cybermen - with new villains.

As expected, the special effects are impressive with spitfires dogfighting in space, and the Doctor exploring history via Stonehenge and Roman centurions.

Smith and Gillan are not the only new faces for the latest series, with head writer Steven Moffat taking over the reins from the man who so successfully resurrected Doctor Who, Russell T Davies.

Moffat is no stranger to the Who franchise and was behind some of the most popular episodes of the past few years including Blink, which featured scary statues and a young Carey Mulligan.

With such a pedigree, expectations for the series are high and this first story, which Moffat wrote, rightly concentrates on the Doctor and his new partner.

And the new pairing provide a solid start for what is arguably Doctor Who's most challenging season yet.

The Eleventh Hour will be shown on BBC One 3 April.



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