Stop the presses. Close the betting windows down. If you missed your chance, you’ll just have to wait until we begin 13th Doctor speculation, because the debate has been settled. For once, the bookies were right, and the last minute bets placed were apparently placed by workers in the BBC offices. While it may not have been announced by white smoke rising from a chimney, it’s an announcement that’s just as important: We have a 12th incarnation of the titular Doctor on the BBC cultural institution that is Doctor Who, and it will be Scottish actor Peter Capaldi.
So, the question many here in the States are asking might in fact be, “Who is this Peter Capaldi fella,” though perhaps in a tone less jaunty and more defensively suspicious. A Wikipedia check shortly after the announcement would have only yielded you a web page that was buckling under the strain of so many searches at one time, because it seems anyone not in the UK greeted the announcement with an extreme lack of recognition, so let me do what I can to help you out.
Speaking as to my own personal feelings toward Capaldi, I think he’ll be absolutely brilliant. When I heard his name was making the rounds as a distinct possibility to become Matt Smith’s successor, I thought it sounded like a fantastic pick. I love The Thick of It, Armando Ianucci’s scathing political satire in which Capaldi plays the profanity-spewing, borderline psychotic, political spin doctor, Malcolm Tucker (Sample dialogue: “Stats, percentages, international comparisons, information. E-mail them f-g wads of information. And tell them to get their heads around it before they put pen to paper, or I’ll be up their arses like a f–g Biafran ferret, right? Come on, unleash hell!” Sorry to our younger readers if you’ve been irrevocably scarred). Whenever he’s onscreen, you are left with no alternative but to sit back in wonder as the compellingly, profanely, hilarious dialogue spews forth from his mouth in a glorious tirade. I like to think this means invitations to join the Doctor in his Tardis will become far more aggressive and confrontational and may end with potential companions in hysterical tears rather than excited leaps into the blue box.
He may be a darker, more confrontational Doctor, more akin to Christopher Eccleston than the jolly manic David Tennant or quirky Smith, but he could end up being a total pussy cat, for all I know. I’m pretty aware that images of Malcolm Tucker are coloring my perceptions of him. It’s exciting, because we really have no idea what kind of Doctor we’ll have this time next year (although I’m betting he won’t talk about cool bow ties or utter the phrase “Geronimo”.) But if you want some trivia about our new Doctor, I’ve got ya covered:
1) He was the lead singer in a punk band called Dreamboys with Craig Ferguson, and apparently, they once dropped acid together.
2) He’s been in the Doctor Who universe twice (once on the Series Four episode “Fires of Pompeii” and on Torchwood: Children of Earth, in which he played reluctant, middle-man John Frobisher).
3) He is of Scottish and Italian descent, just like The Thick of It creator Armando Ianucci.
4) At age 55, he is tied with First doctor William Hartnell as the oldest actor to ever play the Doctor (although he looks much younger than the first three actors to have done so).
5) He directed the Oscar-winning short film, Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, starring recent Doctor Who villain, Richard E. Grant (who was played one of the Doctor regenerations in Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death and acted with 8th Doctor Paul McGann in the cult classic Withnail & I) – I feel like I just played Six Degrees of Gallifrey. Sheesh!
6) He’s a huge Doctor Who fan. As a child, he wrote so many fan letters to the series, the BBC took pity on him and sent him a care package filled with production stills and behind the scenes notes.
7) He was most recently seen in the film World War Z playing a character listed as W.H.O. Doctor. I know this really stands for World Health Organization and is little more than a coincidence, but come on! It’s a fantastic coincidence.
8) Beyond taking on the role of the Doctor, he’ll be seen next year as the villainous, scheming Cardinal Richelieu in an adaptation of The Three Musketeers.
There are those, I’m certain, who are disappointed in Moffat’s selection- those who wanted a female Doctor (I’m not one of those fans. I hate the very thought of such a thing.) or less-WASPy Doctor (which I would have been fine with). True, casting an older actor in the role will hardly shake up the series as much the casting of a female or a Doctor of a different race, but at the moment, I don’t really care about that. I know everyone feels protective and passionate about the series, because every fan feels like the series belongs to them. It’s both the blessing and curse of a beloved sci-fi program: a passionately enthusiastic fan base.
An older actor is a new direction for the revived series, and I can’t wait to see what Moffat and our new Doctor have in store. He’ll bring a different energy to the role than Smith or Tennant. He may be more weathered and less prone to running down corridors than previous incarnations. Profane tirades are probably not going to happen, but he might be a Doctor brimming with quiet, dangerous rage, and The Thick of It proved Capaldi is more than capable of handling rapid fire dialogue. Based on Capaldi’s distinguished, gray-haired appearance, he may be more debonair gentleman and less mad professor, and we may find out that Gallifrey has both a North and a Scotland if he chooses to keep his natural brogue.
We’ve spent months speculating as to who would fill the rather large shoes Matt Smith is leaving behind, and now we know. Does that mean the speculation stops? No, that would be ridiculous, and the fact that you even suggested such a thing tells me you’re not a Doctor Who fan. Turn in your sonic screwdriver and hit the road, buddy. No Tardis travels for you! We have to speculate now about how he’ll play it, what kind of Doctor he’ll be, and of course, how long he’ll stick around. Only time will tell, but I can’t wait to find out. I feel complete relief that Doctor Who is in such good hands. I’ll miss Matt Smith. He was a brilliant Doctor, but I think Capaldi will be just as amazing. Bring on the 2013 Christmas special.
If you haven’t seen Peter Capaldi in action on The Thick of It, check out this compilation of some of his best moments below (warning: not for younger viewers):
So, what do you think guys? Are you excited? Nervous? Dreading Series 8? Let us know in the comments!