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I was sent good luck cards from Tom Baker and Peter Davison. They were the Doctors I grew up watching, while eating toast and drinking Tizer at home, so I was very honoured.

Drama school is a pretty intense experience and I think it changes who you are. I think I grew up at drama school (which was fairly useful personally as much as professionally) and I certainly got exposed to a huge range of ideas, techniques and practices that I had no previous experience of. I wouldn't have known what I was doing as an actor if I hadn't gone.

Unlike other enduring characters such as Sherlock Holmes or Tarzan, being the Doctor allows you a certain freedom that is both very demanding and very thrilling. It allows you to make the character using elements of yourself.

On his early decision to become an actor: "I was very small, about 3 or 4 I think, and just wanted to be the people on telly telling these wonderful stories. Obviously the idea grew and matured with me but I can't ever remember wanting to do anything else. I've just sort of taken it for granted all my life that that was what I would do."

I do thrive on hard work.

"The police, the press, the politicians all in it together – perfect conspiracy. There's something Greek about it, isn't there?" - On the newspaper hacking scandal.

I remember a conversation with my parents about who the people on the TV were, and learning they were actors and they acted out this story and just thinking that was the most fantastic notion, and that's what I want to do. And I remember understanding very clearly the difference between the fantasy and reality of that, and that making it even more exciting.

"There's definitely a swot inside me." (On his interest in learning)

It's funny [Arabella Weir's quote about me 'being steely' is always brought up. I don't feel very steely. I imagine she'd say it's about a determination of purpose, which I can't deny. Certainly, in terms of being an actor, I was very single-minded. That didn't feel 'steely' to me.

"Fear, probably. Fear of being found out, fear of not being any good and just, you know, fear of failing." (What his starting point is, as an actor)

I've always been a geek and slightly awkward. I was never the cool kid at school.

"The moment one is made aware of that sort of thing, it's very hard to enjoy because it feels so absurd and unconnected, because you're patently aware it's not true. It's not true because it's not to do with you, it's to do with characters you play, it's not to do with who you are, or even what you look like." (On being considered a sex symbol)

I'm a good person, I hope. But I'm never as good as I want to be, never as nice as I want to be, never as generous as I want to be.

Religion must have shaped my character. I still go to church occasionally. There's a morality. I think there's a moral compass but whether that comes from religion or just from being a good person, and where one starts and the other begins...

Actors often have a reputation for being ludicrous and arrogant, and I don't think either are necessary and I think because you produce work collectively it's important to be respectful and receptive, and frankly there's too many of us. It's an overcrowded profession, so there's no excuse for behaving like a twat. And I don't like people who do.

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