Doctor Who is a science fiction show with no limits on adventure. The Doctor is a time-travelling Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey and is currently over a thousand-years-old. He uses his TARDIS, a Gallifreyan time-ship disguised as a 1950’s British police box, to traverse through space and time. This means that he can travel to anywhere and everywhere throughout the universe and sometimes (albeit accidentally!) beyond the universe with his trusty companion, usually a woman from modern day Earth.
Peter Capaldi, well-known for his role as foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker on BBC political comedy The Thick of It, is the twelfth incarnation of The Doctor. He took the reins from Matt Smith at Christmas last year. It will be an interesting transition for the man who has become renowned for his adventurous choice of vulgarisms on The Thick of It to suddenly become an icon for families everywhere. That’s what the Doctor is, you see. For the next generation of young Whovians, Capaldi will be the face of their weekly sci-fi superhero. For the rest of us he will be carrying the lantern of a much-loved icon.
Veteran Whovians will know that Capaldi has been in the show before during David Tennant’s tenure where he starred as a Roman merchant in Pompeii. He also later had a starring role on Torchwood: The Children of Earth opposite ex-companion John Barrowman. Personally, I couldn’t be happier. Capaldi has a BAFTA under his belt as well as an Oscar for his role in short film in the nineties, and has confessed that he is such a huge fan of the show and is pleased that he doesn’t have to keep the secret anymore. Doctor Who’s current Head Writer Stephen Moffat has admitted that he actually thought about casting Capaldi when he was searching for the Eleventh Doctor back in 2009 but chose the much younger Matt Smith instead. Moffat went on to describe the Twelfth Doctor as “different from Matt” and Capaldi teased that even before he was cast, Moffat had written extracts for his Doctor years before.
Well, let’s rummage through the facts. He is in his fifties and has an acting career which has spanned over thirty years. This is quite the contrast to Matt Smith, who was a relatively unknown actor when he originally announced as the Eleventh Doctor. This makes Capaldi the oldest actor to be given the role since the show returned to television in 2005 and, actually, the second oldest ever to be cast in the show’s history.
This proves that the BBC is not afraid to turn away from sexualising the Time Lord (which came with both Tennant and Smith) and return the character to being the mysterious ‘old man of the universe.’ It was originally a part played by older men during its early years. William Hartnell also started playing the First Doctor when he was fifty-five. Patrick Troughton adopted the role of the Second Doctor at age forty-nine. Jon Pertwee was fifty when he became the Third Doctor, and after that the actors who portrayed the Doctor became progressively younger, which helped the show to reach out to an older crowd with most of the subsequent Doctors being cast in their thirties.
The longest tenure of the Time Lord is still held by Tom Baker, who portrayed the character for eight years from 1973 to 1981. The shortest is held by Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor, who played the Doctor for one night only in 1996 (the Doctor Who TV Movie) and then – very briefly – in a special minisode last November. The show continued its hiatus after McGann’s first appearance until 2005, when the show was revived by long-time fan Russell T. Davies, and Christopher Eccleston was cast as the Ninth Doctor.
Capaldi’s Doctor has certain standards to live up to. Although perhaps a different turn to both Tennant’s and Smith’s Doctors, Twelve will almost certainly be compared with the Doctors of old. Capaldi admitted during an interview with the BBC that in preparation for his audition he downloaded extracts from the classical episodes online and practised them at home. This would suggest that the Twelfth Doctor will be more similar to his distant predecessors than his more recent ones. I, for one, welcome this change.
Doctor Who is unique in this regard. The regeneration is the key. It gives the producers the opportunity to reboot the series in a clean-cut way and make it fresh again. You need only look at the changes made when Tennant passed the torch onto Smith to see how much things can become transformed. Part of the magic is the fact that although all of the basic Doctor Who trademarks remain, everything else is different because the lead man is a new man, and the universe adapts to that man. And, to the delight of Whovians everywhere, the madness begins again. The full arrival of the Twelfth Doctor this August will see the show once more transformed. Like the character itself, the show will be the same yet different.
And I cannot wait!
Are you excited?
Do you think Capaldi will make a great Doctor?
Let us know in the comments!