UPDATE: 8/4/13 - The rumors were true – Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor.
Well, for those of us Doctor Who fans who now involuntarily say things like “come along, Pond,” in everday life the following is perhaps bittersweet in that it forever ends any last hopes that Matt Smith could change his mind: they have officially cast the next Doctor.
But they’re not telling us who it is yet.
Don’t worry, though, because in confirmation of days of rumors the BBC has announced that, well, they will be announcing the identity of the next Doctor in a half-hour television special to be simulcast in the UK and US this Sunday. It will air at 2 PM on BBC America in the US, and at 7 PM on BBC1 in the UK. The special, simply titled Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor, will feature an interview with the new actor, the departing Matt Smith, and the remaining Executive Producer Steven Moffat. BBC personality Zoe Ball (who Mark Kermode/Simon Mayo BBC Film Review podcast listeners might know as their best fill-in when away on holiday) will host the special.
There will be some definite theatrically to the proceedings, considering that the official release states they “will unveil the 12th Doctor in the first ever interview in front of a live studio audience set against the backdrop of a swirling vortex, amongst Daleks and the Tardis.”
Live studio audience, huh? So, might their first question to the new Doctor simply be, “Who the hell are you?” It’s what they would have asked Matt Smith when he was cast as the 11th Doctor.
The cynical opinion has been that the role was likely cast quite some time ago, and that it will be someone who was never really mentioned as a possibility. Plus, current show Executive Producer Steven Moffat has a history of intentionally misleading the media so nothing he has said on the subject to this point is to be trusted. His prior history in television indicates he tends to cast lesser-known actors in major roles. So, if there is a candidate to replace Matt Smith whom you’ve actually heard of chances are that they’re not actually a serious candidate.
Pretty much any British actor (along with some American ones) has been mentioned as a candidate, but during this 12 Doctor press tour there have only really been two major stories:
Friday (6/7): Starburst Magazine reported that a UK newspaper had discovered who the BBC has cast as the new Doctor and was going to run the story on Sunday. As such, the BBC was going to beat the paper to press by announcing the new Doctor Saturday night. Starburst went on to report their sources indicated a photoshoot with the new Doctor and a Tardis prop had been completed. While offering the observation “we can’t really be sure that these three are in the running at all” Starburst further reported they’d been told the three finalists for the role were ones no one had guessed: Domhnall Gleeson, Daniel Kaluuya, and Dominic Cooper.
Saturday (6/8): The BBC’s official Doctor Who Twitter feed made a brief announcement in the early AM hours. It read: “We can confirm there is no #DoctorWho announcement planned for today.”
Sunday (6/9): The UK Newspaper The Telegraph reported that Rory Kinnear has officially been offered the role of the 12th Doctor. The report was attributed to the paper’s gossip column Mandrake, which is a long-standing gossip column with a known editor but a variety of sources of gossip whose reports are all identified by the code name Mandrake. So, according to Mandrake, Rory Kinnnear “has been offered the part and we are waiting to hear if he will accept; He is the perfect choice.”
Other than that, it’s mostly been the meaningless shifting winds of odds placed by bookies and a parade of actors rumored as candidates getting asked about it and giving the standard “flattered, but no one’s actually offered me the role” response.
Actors rumored as candidates who have publicly denied having been contacted by anyone at BBC about the part include:
Actors who have also been rumored for the role include Ben Daniels, Rupert Grint, Richard Ayoade, Chewitel Ejiofor. I previously broke down all of the candidates in an extensive article you can read here.
One very recent and new addition to the field of candidates is Peter Capaldi, best known as the deliciously foul-mouthed Malcom Tucker on The Thick of It/In the Loop. He’s previously appeared on Doctor Who in the “Fires of Pompeii: episode from season 4, alongside the David Tennant Doctor and Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble. Plus, he was 10 kinds of awesome in the Torchwood: Children of Earth mini-series. It is not entirely clear why Capaldi has suddenly surged to the top as the leading candidate at the British bookies who take bets on such things, although a past interview from 2008 indicates his immense Doctor Who fandom:
When I was a kid, being a huge fan, I wrote numerous letters to the Doctor Who office largely inquiring about how the show was made. I was thrilled to have delivered to me a large package from the BBC containing two full studio scripts for the Jon Pertwee serial The Mutants, which they were making at the time. The package also contained set designs and studio floor plans for these episodes and a delightful letter from Barry Letts giving me an idea what all this stuff was. It was a fantastic exciting insight into both Doctor Who and television production generally. I had never seen a script in any form whatsoever before then and was immediately fascinated by the documents. And of course Barry’s kindness was a trigger to my ambition to work somehow (I didn’t know how) in TV. The scripts are still sitting on my bookshelf downstairs.
At 55, Capaldi would easily be the oldest actor to play the role since its revival in 2005. There are many who want an older Doctor after the run of younger ones with Matt Smith and David Tennant. Capaldi fits the bill. More importantly, based upon his work already within the Doctor Who universe and out of it, he could arguably make for an astoundingly awesome Doctor. However, hardened fans of the show who have been through multiple Doctor re-castings aren’t buying any of this, guessing that Capaldi has been pushed out there by the show as a smokescreen for who they’ve actually cast. Capaldi might very well end up being the next Patterson Joseph, i.e., the guy everyone was positive had been cast to replace David Tennant. Other newer candidates include The Thick of It star Chris Addison and Green Wing star Julian Rhind-Tutt.
Pictured above is Capaldi accosting Addison on the set of The Thick of It upon learning the little twerp might take the role of the Doctor out from under his nose. Either that or it’s an unrelated shot from an episode of The Thick of It that is far funnier in this new context.
By the end of the weekend we can stop all speculation and finally start talking about how the person they cast is entirely wrong for the role and that Matt Smith can never be replaced..NEVER…until December when we see the Christmas special and fall in love with the new Doctor almost instantly. It’s what we Doctor Who fans do. If they cast somebody different (a woman or someone not white or a woman who’s not white) the complaining and transition will take longer, but, hey, Geronimo, let’s get to it.
Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor will air at 7 p.m. GMT on Sunday, Aug. 4. in the U.K. For stateside viewers, BBC America will simulcast the special at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT.