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The Doctor is a man who likes the sound of his own voice. The Eleventh Doctor in particular is a man who can scare off entire armies just by shouting at them, and then, as his wife River Song points out, “he’d just swagger off to his TARDIS and open the doors with a snap of his fingers.”
So here are five of his greatest moments of oratory, from the one about the little baby, to the one about the big whale.
“Dad’s trying his best y’know”
For all that this speech is about the Doctor and his forthcoming trials, it is also about a little baby, for whom everyone more than six months old is ancient. It’s about potential, of which the Doctor has tons, and it’s about expectations. The little bits about living the dream and owning the stage are positively Shakespearean (see the final speech in The Tempest for further proof), and, as this truncated clip shows, there’s still room for a little interpretive comedy, as the Doctor finishes saying that he doesn’t have mammary glands with a hopeful expression, an unspoken “…yet” hopefully playing across his face.
Also, and we may come back to this in a future post, Matt Smith is wonderful with kids of all ages, is he not?
Oh look, here’s another example…
“The Doctor and Amy Pond and days that never came”
One of many reflective moments for the Eleventh Doctor, not least because as he gives this speech he’s also about to burn up in the heat of an exploding TARDIS. And especially worthy of note because it’s the speech of a man who has failed. He may be saving the universe, but he won’t be there to see it, and nor will he ever have been.
The Doctor is a proud man, and you can this stick in his gut as he tries to reconcile what is about to happen with the deletion of hundreds of years of astonishing experiences. When he does something similar in front of a planetary fire god in “The Rings of Akhaten,” it’s a bitter speech, full of self-recrimination, self-pity and bile, but here it’s played for full tragedy against a sleeping, innocent Amelia Pond. Two people with a universe of potential, both of whom are about to lose almost all of it.
Y’know how British actors are brought into action movies as the bad guys because they can deliver chilled and creeping malice with a sadistic whisper? Well, somewhere in Dalek Hollywood, Matt Smith is Tom Hiddleston AND Alan Rickman right now.
“I. Am. Talking.”
Oh yeah, he can scare entire armies, providing they don’t have a prison box already prepared to trap him in. Nevertheless, this moment of utter hubris is especially fantastic because it appears to work, and then does not. How fitting, how very the Doctor.
If he really could just bellow his way to victory, his adventures would get pretty dull, very quickly.
“Nobody Human Has Anything To Say To Me Today”
The astronomical selfishness, duplicity and cruelty of humans revealed through the metaphor of a giant suffering star whale and the alien with a terrible decision to make.
For all that Eleven is great at those reflective speeches, this is the one that deserves holding up as an example of who the Doctor is. He may be sentimental about humanity, but he’s not blind to our faults. He may be kind and generous but he is not to be treated like a doddery uncle. And he may be capable of astonishing feats but even he has limits, something he hates to be reminded of.
What’s your favorite Matt Smith speech? Tell us here, remembering to start your comment “I can’t believe you forgot…”
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See more posts by Fraser McAlpine
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic