TV & Radio
Kiwi screenwriter Neil Cross, who wrote lines for actor Matt Smith in Doctor Who, says he will miss the actor desperately.
The BBC this week announced Smith would leave the show after four years in the role of the renegade twin hearted Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey at the end of this year's 50th anniversary celebrations.
Cross, who wrote last season's episodes The Rings of Akhaten and Hide, said he initially wondered whether Smith would be able to fill predecessor David Tennant's shoes in the 2010 episode The 11th Hour.
'When he came into our lives as the eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith had some very big Gallifreyan Chuck Taylors to fill. I watched his first episode with sweating palms and crossed fingers: hoping against hope that it would all be okay,'' Cross said.
''It was more than okay. Within about ten seconds, I was smiling with relief. He had me at fish fingers and custard; he had us all at fish fingers and custard. By the end of that first episode, The Eleventh Hour, I was punching the air with tears in my eyes.''
In his four years as the Doctor the BBC said Smith had reached 77 million fans in the UK, USA and Australia alone, and millions more in other countries, and become the first actor to be nominated for a Bafta for playing the Doctor.
Cross, who met Smith on set in the UK during the filming of his episodes, wasn't entirely convinced that Smith was not the Doctor in real life.
''Matt Smith is a great Doctor, maybe the greatest Doctor ever . . . because he is the Doctor. Hearts and soul. I'll miss him desperately. And I can't wait to see what's next.''
Smith's decision leaves in question his plans to film an episode in New Zealand with Sir Peter Jackson directing. The director, on location for The Hobbit, was unavailable for comment, but fans are still hopeful.
Jon Preddle, the Hamilton based author of the definitive guide to Doctor Who, Timelink, said: "Well, no Matt Smith in New Zealand but maybe number 12 will be filming here in New Zealand?"
Fellow Hamilton fan Paul Barlow, who is behind the Bring Doctor Who to New Zealand Facebook page, said four years was a good solid time in the role.
"The great thing about the show is that the actors change but stories keep going. Peter Jackson could direct one under a different Doctor easily."
Smith is understood to be considering a career behind the camera. In a BBC statement Smith said Doctor Who had been ''the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke''.
''The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I've never seen before, your dedication is truly remarkable.
Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord . . . It's been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the Tardis for a spell with 'the ginger, the nose and the impossible one'. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go.''
Fans of Who, Spooks, Luther and Cross's other work can join him on June 29 as he talks about writing Doctor Who, his collaborations with Guillermo Del Toro, being lead writer on BBC spy drama Spooks, creating the iconic crime thriller Luther , and his award-winning novels: Saturday June 29, from 7pm
Ilott Theatre, Wellington Town Hall. Tickets are available through Ticketek.
Follow Chris Gardner on Twitter @CHRISGARDNERNZ