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Doctor Who star Smith happy in role

Doctor Who star Matt Smith said he does not want to give up his role as the Time Lord "anytime soon".

The actor is currently filming the second half of the latest BBC1 series which sees him reunited with regular sidekicks Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), as well as Alex Kingston, who reprises her role as River Song.

They find themselves chasing a mysterious astronaut and fighting aliens with the power to wipe people's minds in 1969 America.

Smith, who recently played novelist Christopher Isherwood in a BBC biopic, said of his role as the Time Lord: "It's certainly not a part I want to give up anytime soon, and I love playing it."

The actor, who was named as the 11th Doctor in 2009, replacing David Tennant, made his first screen appearance in 2010. He joined other cast members and the show's writer Steven Moffat at a preview of the new series at Olympia 2 in Kensington, west London.

The new series includes appearances from Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville and former Coronation Street star Suranne Jones in an episode called The Doctor's Wife. Moffat said model and actress Lily Cole will play an "absolutely terrifying" mermaid creature in an episode which sees the Time Lord cross paths with Bonneville's pirate captain.

Gillan said filming the episode in Cornwall was one of the highlights of the new series. She added: "And I learned to sword fight. That was really cool."

The first episodes see the Doctor enter the space race, team up with the FBI and help out United States President Richard Nixon. Moffat admitted the series featured some of the darkest opening episodes ever seen - including the death of a major character.

He said: "First of all, you make Doctor Who frightening to appeal to children. It's the children who find it frightening, not the adults, and children absolutely rank Doctor Who stories in order of frightened-ness - that's what it's about. You put the jokes in and the silly bits in for the adults, and you put the scary bits in for the kids."

The new series of Doctor Who will begin on April 23 on BBC One.

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