Matt Smith’s experience on Doctor Who almost stopped him joining Netflix’s The Crown

The producer of the new royal series adds that Smith’s new part proves he has “so much more to give” than in his Tardis years

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Matt Smith rose to fame as the adventuring Time Lord in Doctor Who, before bagging a starry role as Prince Philip in royal miniseries The Crown – but it’s now been revealed that the actor’s experience working on the long-running BBC1 sci-fi show almost steered him away from joining the Netflix period drama at all.

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“He was umm-ing and aah-ing, because he’d done Doctor Who for so long,” said Andrew Eaton, producer on The Crown. “I think he was wary about getting into a show that would take up a lot of his time and keep him from doing other things.” 

However, the programme-makers were keen to have Smith in the part opposite Claire Foy’s young Queen Elizabeth II, and eventually persuaded Smith to jump on board despite his reservations.

“We saw quite a few actors to play Philip, but it was clear from the auditions that we all became a bit fixated that he was the only person who could do it,” Eaton told press at a special event for The Crown.

“He and Claire work in completely different ways. And they’re quite different people, but they just gelled from the get-go.”

Eaton went on to discuss how Smith’s new role would show audiences a new side to the actor, who he believes has more to offer than he showed in Doctor Who.

“I think he’s got a fantastic quality to him,” Eaton said. “Doctor Who put it all in the one direction, and you realise he’s got so much more to give.

“He’s obviously well known to a certain area, he was having to nip off during the shoot to do various Comic Con things and stuff, so he’s obviously known in that world.

“But I think outside that he’s not really known as a film actor particularly yet, so I’m sure for Hollywood and other places it’ll probably change his profile. 

“Obviously when you were filming you’d get a lot of kids of a certain age who’d flock to him in complete awe, and he’s brilliant at that. He has a real sweetness about him which I think comes out in his acting.”

So will Prince Philip dethrone the Doctor as Matt Smith’s greatest role? Only time (and perhaps a little space) will tell.

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The Crown will be available on Netflix from 4th November