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The secret origin of Doctor Who's iconic "Bowties are cool" line, according to Matt Smith himself

It all began at a costume fitting

promotional image of matt smith in doctor who
Image credit: ADRIAN ROGERS, BBC

There’s probably no bigger symbol of Matt Smith’s tenure as the Eleventh Doctor than his signature bowtie and Eleven’s accompanied catchphrase of “Bowties are cool.” For years, the it became a nerdy badge of pride to sport a fez and a bowtie (and a sonic screwdriver of course) at comic conventions. But most fans won’t know that the classic bowtie wasn’t originally planned for the Doctor at all.

At this year’s Los Angeles Comic Con, Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor himself, told a bustling Main Stage audience about the backstory for his classic “Bowties are cool” moment. Apparently, it all started at his costume fitting for the Doctor. At this point in the costume fitting, Smith had on the tweed, he had on the jeans, but he still felt like something important was missing. So... he asked if he could see some bowties. According to Smith, “Stephen Moffat went ‘Oh no’,” and Smith responded with the fairly capable argument, “Bowties are cool.”

Moffat, being the sort of writer to know an iconic line when he hears one, wrote the phrase into the show, making Doctor Who history, and bringing bowties back in style.


If you want to start watching Doctor Who and don't know where to start, check out our handy Doctor Who watch guide. Or maybe you're already finished with the show - We've got the perfect Ten shows to watch when you're done watching Doctor Who guide for you too. If you're already heads over heels for the Fifteenth Doctor and want to learn more about the actor playing him, check out what he's been in before here. Or maybe you just need to figure out how the new series numbering is going to work (Are there really gonna be two series 1s? Yes.) - if so, this is the explainer you want.

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Tiffany Babb avatar

Tiffany Babb

Deputy Editor

Tiffany Babb is Popverse's deputy editor and resident Sondheim enthusiast. Tiffany likes stories that understand genre conventions (whether they play into them or against them), and she cries very easily at the movies— but rarely at the moments that are meant to be tearjerkers.

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