TV News

And the 12th Doctor on Doctor Who is…Peter Capaldi, aka, Malcolm F’N Tucker from The Thick of It

So, the media and bookies had it right, for a change (is it too late to place a bet?)  The live special has now aired, and the new Doctor is….Peter Capaldi.

"I've decided only wimps need sleep."

Who’s that?

Well, he’s the guy everyone said it was going to be, and by that I mean he was never even mentioned as a possibility until a week ago when he suddenly rocketed to the top of lists everywhere.  No one seemed to quite know why he had become the en vogue choice.  As such, the cynics among us (myself included) viewed the news with a great deal of speculation, not completely trusting it.  However, it is now clear there was some genuine full-on inside information going on here.  Plus, he does have an adorable backstory as a huge Doctor Who fan, which I detailed elsewhere on the site.

Where have I seen him before?

Capaldi is most identified with his role as the hilariously foul-mouthed and quick-tempered political spin doctor on the British show The Thick of It, which was created by the same guy now working similar magic on HBO’s Veep.  The show premiered as two 3-episode seasons in 2005 followed by three live-hour specials in 2007, an 8-episode season in 2009, and a recent 7-episode season in 2012.  Capaldi also appeared as Tucker in the somewhat-related film In the Loop.  Fans of the show and/or film have enjoyed joking about just how inherently funny it is for the man who played the incredibly non-kids friendly Malcolm Tucker now getting the chance to play the Doctor (MTV Geek put together some mock-Doctor Who scripts which write the Doctor as if he were more like Tucker).

Doctor Who fans would be more likely to recognize Capaldi from the season 4 episode “Fires of Pompeii,” in which he played the head of a Roman household which came into contact with the David Tennant Doctor and Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble.  He was also a central character in Torchwood’s Children of Earth miniseries, appearing as the political middle man meant to negotiate with an increasingly horrific alien invasion.  

Could he be a great Doctor?

Yes; look for a follow-up article on that topic on the site later today.

How surprising is this?

Very.  These are all the reasons Peter Capaldi was obviously not going to be the 12th Doctor on Doctor Who:

  • Everyone was saying it was going to be him.

When David Tennant replaced Christopher Eccleston, it was not a huge surprise.  When Matt Smith replaced David Tennant, it was stunning.  Smith was unknown, young (at 27, the youngest to take on the role in the history of the show), and had not been a rumored candidate for the part until literally the morning it was announced.  As such, based upon that most recent example it was assumed that we should trust nothing we were hearing in the rumor mill because it had failed so spectacularly when it predicted either Patterson Joseph or Robert Carlyle had been cast to replace Tennant.  Of course, Capaldi only recently became a rumored candidate, just as Smith only became rumored at the very end.  It’s just that this time Capaldi’s casting clearly broke a week early whereas the BBC was able to keep Smith’s casting and even candidacy secret until almost the literal last minute.

  • At 55-years-old, He Ties William Hartnell from 1963 as the Oldest Actor Cast as The Doctor

Smith was the youngest actor to take on the role of the Doctor.  Well, at 55-years-old Capaldi is the oldest to take the role since the first Doctor, William Hartnell, who was 55 when he first appeared in the role back in 1963.  Other actors to play the role have been on the worse side of 40, but they were all younger than Hartnell (Patrick Troughton was 46, Jon Pertwee was 51, Tom Baker was 40, Colin Baker was 41, Sylvester McCoy was 44, Christopher Eccleston was 41- all ages being approximate).  Peter Davison, Paul McGann, David Tennant, and Matt Smith were all at least under 40 at the time they were cast.

  • He’s already been on the show, and even died on the spin-off Torchwood.

Actors who have been on Doctor Who in one role have come back in other roles before.  For example, Karen Gillan first appeared as a character with no lines in “Fires of Pompeii” before she was cast as Amelia Pond.  However, among the actors to play the Doctor only Colin Baker had actually appeared on the show prior to his casting in the title role.  As such, that is usually viewed as an exception in the rule that no one who has been on the show before can actually be cast as the Doctor.  This was used to rule out many, many rumored candidates.  However, now Capaldi has been cast even though he’s played two different characters in the Doctor Who universe before.  The Steven Moffat era largely absolutely and utterly ignores anything and everything from the Russell T. Davies era with occasional exceptions, but especially anything to do with the Davies spin-off show Torchwood.  So, the fact that Capaldi was on that may not be that big of a deal.  However, that he was actually in a prior Doctor Who episode in a sizeable role and will now play the Doctor – a Doctor with whom he has previously had interactions while performing as a different character – is very surprising.

  • By British TV standards, he’s rather well-known.

Not all Doctors are as obscure as Matt Smith was at the time of his casting, but very few in the past have been as well known as Peter Capaldi.  He is arguably the most well-known, at least among British TV fans, actor cast in the role since either Christopher Eccleston or Peter Davison.  Of course, based upon how quickly the Wikipedia page for Capaldi crashed within minutes of the announcement one would guess fans outside of Britain are clamoring to find out who the hell this guy is, and now looking into a Hulu Plus membership so they can catch old episodes of The Thick of It to see the foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker everyone’s been joking about.

So, that’s who he is.  What do you think?  Happy?  Excited?  Think he’s too old?  Wish it would have been a woman?  Don’t care because Steven Moffat’s writing is increasingly turning you away from the show?  Look for our opinion on how he will be as the Doctor in a future article today from Julianne.

UPDATE:  The BBC has put out a press release on the casting choice.  Here it is, taken from DenOfGeek:

“Amid much hype and speculation, Peter Capaldi was unveiled as the next Doctor during a special live television event on BBC ONE tonight.

Widely regarded as one of the biggest roles in British television, Capaldi will be the Twelfth Doctor and takes over from Matt Smith who leaves the show at Christmas.

Peter Capaldi says: “Being asked to play The Doctor is an amazing privilege. Like the Doctor himself I find myself in a state of utter terror and delight. I can’t wait to get started.”

Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer says: “It’s an incendiary combination: one of the most talented actors of his generation is about to play the best part on television. Peter Capaldi is in the TARDIS!”

Doctor Who companion, Jenna Coleman says: “I’m so excited Peter Capaldi is the man taking on the challenge of becoming the Twelfth Doctor. With Steven’s writing and his talent I know we’ll be making an amazing show with an incredible incarnation of number 12. I can’t wait to start this new adventure!”

Charlotte Moore, Controller BBC One says: “Peter Capaldi has all the genius and versatility needed to take on the mantel of the great Time Lord and make the role his own.  He’ll bring his own particular wisdom, charisma and wit to the Twelfth Doctor and take the show into an exciting new era.”

Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning says: “We started thinking Peter Capaldi might be the right person to take on this iconic part a few months ago. But it was only when he did a secret audition at Steven’s house under the cover of darkness that we knew we had our man. He’s an extraordinarily talented actor who can seemingly turn his hand to anything. We can’t wait to premiere his unique take on the Doctor on Christmas Day and we are sure he’s going to become one of the all-time classic Doctors.”

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