Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Smith puts his oar in for TV role

Matt Smith stars in new drama Bert And Dickie

Matt Smith has revealed one of his favourite things about being an actor - picking up random skills.

The Doctor Who star plays 1948 London Olympics oarsman Bert Bushnell in new drama Bert And Dickie, a role which required him to learn to row.

"That's one of the great virtues of being an actor - you get to learn these skills along the way. It was a wonderful way to spend a week," he said.

While Bert came from a working-class family who worked on the Thames building and repairing boats, his rowing partner Dickie Burnell was an Old Etonian and Oxford Blue.

"Bert had a very particular take and view of that world and the class divide was very apparent back then," Matt said.

"But that wasn't the overriding facet of his personality. He could crack on with it but it sort of irritated him."

In preparation for the six-week shoot, both Matt and his co-star Sam Hoare trained with Olympic rowers at the world-famous Leander Rowing Club in Henley-on-Thames.

Matt remains in awe of the athletes he met. He explained: "How they row at that level for six minutes is extraordinary. It's kind of like your body is just a lever and the courage and will and barrier of pain you have to get through is what our story is about really."

:: Bert And Dickie is a one-off drama airing on BBC One on Wednesday, July 25.

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