Matt Smith Shows You How To Nail Traditional Tailoring And Sports-Luxe

Star of The Crown - and former Doctor Who - dresses for inclement weather

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He grew up in the East Midlands and has taken the Tardis to the ends of the universe, yet Matt Smith has a soft spot for all things Mancunian. During a pleasant afternoon in his company, the 34-year-old actor outlines his fondness for the Gallagher brothers (the music and the mouthings-off), Steve Coogan (ie, Partridge) and, of course, Mick Hucknall.

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"Look," Smith says, in defence of, for many, the indefensible, "I was on holiday and I was by the pool, on Tidal, thinking, 'What is good pool music?' and it came down to Simply Red. 'Money's too Tight (to Mention)': what a song." The track is one of an eclectic range he plays during his Esquire photo shoot, ELO and Radiohead (his favourite band) included.

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Photographs by Alan Clarke

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It's the DJ in him. As head boy of Northampton School for Boys, he had first dibs on the decks at school parties and would play, he says, with a grin, "hard house and trance, and people would say, 'Play something we know!'"

Since then, he has become quite the crowd-pleaser. After school, National Youth Theatre and a drama/creative writing degree, he worked on the stage and in small roles on middling BBC dramas. Then, on 3 January 2009, he was confirmed as the new Doctor Who and got very famous immediately.

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"Fame is a weird thing in many ways," he says. "Nothing prepares you for it, and I still don't really know what it is. I'm still quite reluctant to admit that it is a thing in my life."

The Doctor made him British TV royalty and here he is now as the Duke of Edinburgh in The Crown, Netflix's expensive and expansive retelling of the last 70 years of the Royal Household. It begins in 1947, with Smith looking and talking sharp in the white naval uniform of the then Philip Mountbatten on the eve of his wedding to Princess Elizabeth.

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"Later, when the king dies," Smith says, "not only does the Queen change, Philip does too. 'Shit, that's it, I've got to walk two steps behind for the rest of my life.' That is what he's done. When you're emasculated like that, what else can you fall back on but your wit?"

There is, of course, a scene of Smith's Philip insulting a tribesman on a royal walkabout, akin to the many misplaced attempts at humour that have come to define the duke in later life. Otherwise, Smith's turn as the younger version is surprising: the unknown side of one of the most famous men alive.

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The Crown is planned for six, 10-episode seasons; Smith is signed up for the first two. Beyond that? "I think they're going to switch and recast someone older. I don't fancy hours in the chair getting old-man make-up. Anyway, us actors are going to become obsolete."

Really? "Yes. Well, maybe not for a while. I'm sorry. I'm just more reflective now I'm in my thirties. I like getting old, in real life."

The Crown is on Netflix now

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