A DRAMA teacher from Taunton ‘conned’ the new Doctor in cult television series Doctor Who into taking to the stage as a teenager, the County Gazette can reveal.

Twenty-six-year-old Matt Smith – the eleventh incarnation and youngest Doctor Who ever – wanted to be a top footballer rather than a television star and played in the youth teams of Leicester City and Nottingham Forest until a back injury forced him to quit.

But Jerry Hardingham, Matt’s drama teacher at Northampton School for Boys, always believed he was destined for the stage.

And when the 14-year-old failed to audition for a part in a school production of 12 Angry Men, his biggest supporter cast him in the play without him knowing.

Speaking to the County Gazette, Jerry, now a drama teacher at West Somerset Community College in Minehead, said: “We had a new theatre opening, and the production of 12 Angry Men was a big opportunity for Matt, but he didn’t turn up for the auditions.

“I rang his mum who told me he was on holiday, so I told her he was doing this part in the play – no discussion.

“He was so self-effacing and was thinking of doing history at Sheffield University but me, his mum, dad and another drama teacher were telling him not to go.

“I persuaded him to go into the National Youth Theatre because I saw raw talent and he got the lead role in The Cathedral. The play was acted out at Westminster Cathedral before an audience of Royals and dignitaries.

“We’re still in touch and he still asks for my opinion when I see him, which is just ridiculous!”

And speaking of Matt’s Doctor Who coup, 45-year-old Jerry, who lives in Taunton, added: “I was in Taunton Asda when I found out. All of a sudden my phone went a bit mad. I spoke to his folks as well and they are thrilled to bits.

“I know he will be fantastic as Doctor Who because Matt is so versatile. The producers know what they want and he will give it to them. I am chuffed to bits for him.”