DOCTOR Who star Matt Smith has spoken of tackling his first gay role in a TV drama set to air tomorrow.
The Northampton-born actor plays writer Christopher Isherwood in the BBC period drama Christopher and His Kind set in 1930s Berlin.
The drama explores Mr Isherwood’s formative years in thirties Berlin in the run-up to the Second World War.
Best known for his lead role in the iconic Doctor Who saga, the 28-year-old said he had to make some mental adjustments to shake off the well-known character.
He said: “The story is such a fascinating one.
“I loved the idea of playing someone so extreme to me, that different kind of vocalisation and physical shape.
“Christopher Isherwood is such an interesting man.
“There’s something very romantic about Christopher and Auden going off as young men to Berlin.
“At the heart of the piece is Christopher’s acceptance of his own identity and self-discovery – I think we learn about a man exploring his sexuality and the arena in which he can do that freely.
“Just thinking in a different way physically to The Doctor was also a very interesting challenge for me because one is based on movement and madness and the other on stillness and stiffness really.
“I hope that you look at this and quickly forget that you’re watching The Doctor.”
Similarly challenging for the former East Anglia University student was taking on his first gay role, which includes nude scenes.
He said: “Well, you’ve just got to commit to it, gung ho.
“It’s different from when you’re doing nude scenes with a boy than doing them with a girl, as you can imagine.
“But I tried to commit to it and wholeheartedly go for it.
“Having to kiss boys, and finally understanding the nature of stubble rash, was interesting.”
In preparation Matt Smith read Isherwood’s novels and trawled through video footage, watching, listening and repeating his voice.
He also visited Isherwood’s partner Don Bachardy, who still lives in the couple’s home in America, to gain an insight into the character he was playing.
Christopher And His Kind, written by British playwright Kevin Elyot will be shown tomorrow on BBC Two and BBC HD between 9.30pm and 11pm.