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Doctor Who or Prince Phillip? There was equal pressure, says 'The Crown' star Matt Smith

Ellie Walker-Arnott
Written by
Ellie Walker-Arnott

One is a fictional, alien time-traveller, the other a real, living and breathing prince, the husband of our British monarch. But Matt Smith says his roles in 'Doctor Who' and Netflix's 'The Crown' have been equally tricky. 

'They were both equally pressurised for different reasons,' the 34-year-old told Time Out at the premiere of 'The Crown' in Leicester Square last night. 

'That's the thing about being an actor. Every job brings its own pressure and this is no different to any other. Each time you do a new one you think it's never going to get more pressurised than this... and then suddenly it does.'

Smith played The Doctor between 2010 and 2013, stepping into the Tardis after ten other actors had already put their stamp on the iconic sci-fi character, with millions of Whovians ready to critique his every move. But playing a real person on screen has its own challenges too. Not least the fact that the royal family themselves could sit down and watch (because presumably the Windsors have an ultra fancy Netflix subscription).

And then there are those nude scenes. Smith plays Prince Phillip sleeping naked in bed on a number of occasions, which he admits was 'terribly embarrassing' to film. 

Which does he prefer playing, The Doctor or the prince? 'Both,' he laughs. 'Which do you prefer? Chocolate or strawberry? It's sort of impossible they both have their own virtues and they both have their own pitfalls, but it's been a fantastic character to explore.'

And explore it 'The Crown' intends to do. The big budget drama could run for years to come. 'We hope we have another 50 hours to go,' director Stephen Daldry told us. 'The context of the story becomes more interesting because of Brexit. Why do we still have a Queen? Why is she there by the grace of God? Who are we? If we are going to cut ourselves off from Europe what are the questions we should ask ourselves about who we are now and where we are going.'

But nothing's set in stone just yet. 'We've made one season and we are filming the second at the moment. Beyond that nothing's been agreed,' said writer Peter Morgan. And even if Netflix does commission the entire story Matt Smith and Claire Foy, who plays Queen Elizabeth II, would have to pass their royal garb on to new actors. 

'If we were to go ahead any further it would be a different cast,' Morgan tells us, admitting that he's yet to think about who could take over from Foy's queen.  

For however long it does run, 'The Crown' is set to stay on Netflix, Morgan added: 'The way in which they wanted to work with us seemed so exciting and so progressive and they gave us total control. It was irresistible' – even though it's not quite designed to binge in one go. 

'I hope it tells the story well enough that you want to watch it in binge-y amounts,' says Morgan. 'But I don't think you could do ten hours in one go – you'd be sick!'

'The Crown' season one is available on Netflix from November 4. 

More entertainment news:

✚ The actress playing the Queen in Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ thinks 'the royal family could be massively pissed off'
✚ Why Netflix's new show ‘The Crown’ will change everything you think you know about the Queen
✚ How early is too early for Christmas movies?

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