Doctor Who: The New Doctor

Doctor Who celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year with a special episode that will see David Tennant reprise his role as the Tenth Doctor for a brief time. At the end of the year the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith will leave the show and a new actor will take the top job in Sci-Fi.

Major spoilers about the identity of the Twelfth Doctor are to follow.

The BBC has since revealed the identity of the actor who will play the Time Lord is Peter Capaldi, best known for playing Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It“. Doctor Who Executive Producer and current “Who Supremo” Steven Moffat said, “I can describe the new person playing The Doctor in three words: different from Matt.” Capaldi was cast after a secret audition at Moffat’s home.

Peter Capaldi
Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor.

Capaldi certainly is that, being the oldest actor in the role since the First Doctor, William Hartnell who was also 55 when he took the role. This contrasts sharply to Matt Smith who is the youngest actor cast as the Doctor and also followed the relatively young David Tennant. Many assumed that the new actor would be significantly older because of the youth of Tennant and Smith.

Capaldi has something of a history with Doctor Who and has appeared in the show. He played Caecilius in The Fires of Pompeii and has also appeared as under pressure Government Minister John Frobisher in Torchwood: Children of Earth.

In addition, Peter Capaldi is a lifelong fan of the show, having written to Radio Times magazine when he was 15 asking them if they would celebrate Doctor Who’s 25th Anniversary in 1988.

I think he is an excellent choice for The Doctor, though I never would have considered him initially. I can’t wait to see what he does in the role and I think while it is easy to call him a safe pair of hands it would be difficult to find somebody better as the Doctor.

So we know he can act, we know he’s got enough geek credibility to satisfy the fans and we know he’s been in it before. The big question now is what kind of Doctor he will be. Will he be eccentric or reserved? Childlike or serious? How long will be be on the show? All these questions and more will be answered in good time. For now, we have the 50th Anniversary special and the exit of Matt Smith to look forward to this year, not to imply I will be glad to see him go of course.

But what does this mean for Doctor Who? Apart from having a new guy running around fighting aliens of course. It means the writers have a new character to work with, which will change so many things. Different Doctors have acted in wildly varying manners, some have shown mercy while others have been merciless. A different Doctor means approaching adventures and enemies in a new way. It also means the dynamic with the companion will change. Jenna Coleman’s Clara often had a flirtatious and playful relationship with the Eleventh Doctor and all that will have to change. Older Doctors have often become paternal figures to their companions such as the Seventh Doctor and Ace. If River Song is still about that relationship will change. I always found it rather unsettling that Alex Kingston was old enough to be Matt Smith’s mother and having an actor closer to her age might lessen that effect for me.

So in summation, I’m very much looking forward to more Doctor Who adventures and I’m very much looking forward to seeing Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. What do you think he will bring to the role? Do you agree with the casting?

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Joseph Brennan

    I only watched the first two seasons of the rebooted ‘Doctor Who’ before losing interest, but this news has got me very excited. I enjoyed watching Capaldi in ‘The Thick of It’ and ‘In The Loop’. He also wrote and directed this really good film about Kafka, which bagged him an Oscar.

    This news might just get me back into ‘Doctor Who’.

    • Joe Harker

      At this point I’d say I’m in a bit of an abusive relationship with Doctor Who. We had a great first year but it wasn’t until the second year that she really found out how to make it work long term. Then we had a good few years of steady brilliance before things stumbled then began to sour.

      Now she keeps hurting me, she’s not the woman I fell in love with all those years ago but I know she’s in there somewhere. Things were good once, fantastic even. I know they can be so again. I’m not giving up on her yet. Not while there’s hope.

  2. Great choice. Yes he was Malolcm Tucker, but he was also Randall Brown in The Hour.

  3. The Mutteree

    Brilliant choice for the doctor.

    This is a great actor for the role. Wishfully they will stop making the stories so self – indulgently convoluted (lest we all forget – it is supposed to be a programme that children can enjoy) and he can be the Doctor who (did you see what I did there?!) makes the show the family-friendly behemoth it should always be striving to be.

    • Joe Harker

      Bingo! Whenever I’m discussing what I don’t like about Doctor Who I always use the phrase “self-indulgent writing”.

      The writers reference Doctor Who Classic seemingly only to prove they watched it and it has (in my opinion) become about the companions, not the Doctor. For Matt Smith’s tenure I’ve been watching the Amy Pond show, then the Clara Oswin Oswald show. I do think the writers are a bit too interested in focusing on the characters they created to the detriment of The Doctor.

      • An important aspect of the show, however, is that the companion becomes the “main character,” (despite the Doctor of course being the titular main character) and I don’t feel as if this has been happening recently, especially with Clara and Amy. When Rose was a companion, she basically WAS the main character, which is how Davies intended it to be. It seems to me that these recent episodes have discarded the companions to focus on “The Doctor,” namely, who is he? Only recently did we find out what Clara’s deal is.

  4. I’m not that familiar with the actor, but the second I saw him walk on stage, I thought that it could really work out for the best.

  5. Kelsey Clark

    I am very excited for this Doctor and I only just started watching! I like that he is older and that he is a personal Doctor Who fan.

  6. David Tatlow

    Never been a for of Doctor Who, but fans certainly are lucky to have a talent like Capaldi playing their beloved Doctor. I think it’s a good move for the show, and the role is definitely in safe hands.

  7. As a big fan of the current Doctor Who series (Doctors 9 to 11), I’m pretty excited to see Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. That said, I reckon a lot of people will be apprehensive about an older doctor, so I’m expecting outrage from some fans (probably the same fans who were outraged when Matt Smith was announced as the Eleventh Doctor!)

  8. Great article! I always thought Peter Capaldi was an underrated and immaculate actor. Since his stirringly enjoyable role as Malcom Tucker in The Thick of it took the world by storm, he has always been someone to look out for. I’m glad he, with this and his small role in WWZ, is getting the acclaim he deserves.

    • Joe Harker

      Oh you mean World War Z where he played WHO Doctor? Given recent developments I find this hilarious. Somebody there must have been in on the joke and I want to know who it was.

  9. Jessica Koroll

    I’ve pretty much given up on Moffat’s Doctor Who so, while I’m very intrigued by the casting and will probably check out an episode or two, I won’t be sticking around. I do think it’s great that they decided to go with an older actor this time around though. I haven’t heard much about Capaldi before but he certainly has that classic who look to him which, like you said, I think would introduce an interesting, new dynamic to the reboot.

  10. Amelia Roberts

    I’m not at all familiar with Capaldi or his work, and I’m seriously sick of Moffat’s unabashed and seemingly endless sexism, but I’ll be watching the first couple of episodes of the new series to see what changes the new Doctor brings.

    • Joe Harker

      Endless sexism? I’m not sure if I’d call it that. I think the companions (well Amy and Clara anyway) have been idealised (and objectified a bit) versions of women that get away with all kinds of rubbish and we’re supposed to like then for it because the writer loves his own creations more than the existing main character.

      I’m thinking the writers don’t know how to write female characters without making them very Mary Sue-ish. If you had to ask me for my favourite companions of New Who I’d say Mickey and Rory. They were competent but knew their limits. They got to do things important to the plot without it being all about them.

      What do you think Moffat does that is endlessly sexist? I’m interested to know.

      • Amelia Roberts

        Amy, River, and Clara have basically all been reduced to their relationship with the Doctor, if that.
        Amy seemed excusable at first, although from the very start she conformed to Mulvey’s theory of the Male Gaze, but she becomes more and more passive as her storyline progresses, until it reaches that awful point where she’s essentially reduced to being a reproductive system. It just seems to get worse from there; the aftermath of her pregnancy is scarcely dealt with, despite it being so traumatic and her newborn child is all but forgotten about in favour of returning to the usual tone of the show. It’s an incredibly irresponsible way of dealing with a storyline like that, and then she goes on to become an archetypal mother/wife figure.
        River started off so promisingly, but then it’s gradually revealed that her entire existence revolves around the Doctor; she’s trained by the Silence from childhood for the sole purpose of killing the doctor, and is then put in prison for life for killing him, despite not actually doing so. Even her break away from that when she becomes a Professor ends because she sacrifices her life for the Doctor.
        Clara, again, is reduced to existing purely to save the Doctor. If they ever had any in the first place, none of his female characters have any agency whatsoever by the time their storylines come to a close. Through his representation of them, you’re led to believe that women actually can’t exist in the Who universe anymore unless their entire lives revolve solely around this man’s. It’s taking the impact the Doctor has on his companions’ lives to an absurd level that you just wouldn’t see if his assistants were men.
        Moffat’s treatment of women is similar with his representation of Irene Adler in BBC Sherlock too, and I’m hoping to write an article elaborating on all of this, because these are shows with incredibly large audiences and followings, and so it’s really important to scrutinise the ideologies they perpetuate.

        • Joe Harker

          Given your response on this, I’d like to see you write something about Irene Adler’s portrayal on Sherlock.

          I’d say most female characters raison d’être is to save the Doctor because they’re “the most important woman in the Doctor’s life” and he needs them (for now, just wait until the next female companion).

          Amy is especially abhorrent in her treatment of her fiancée (who has been relegated to the ‘other man’ in her life) since she treats him dismissively, stares at the Doctor while he is getting changed, doesn’t want Rory to travel with her (justifying it because he won’t even know she’s gone off with another man), asks the Doctor for a quickie THE NIGHT BEFORE HER WEDDING, acts all grumpy when Rory does travel with them and after a whole load of other stuff leaves him because she can’t have his kids (even though he’d rather be with her and no kids than have kids with someone else.

          Why are we expected to like her? Because she’s pretty and is the Doctor’s companion, which makes her exempt from being a bad person apparently.

  11. Amy Grant

    I think everyone has their favourite Doctor, for me it’s David Tennant and I doubt anyone will come close to him especially since Rose is my favourite companion as well, and since there are 11 Doctors to choose from already, Peter may struggle. I’m not sure how this is going to work with Clara, I think the age difference between the actors may just be a little to much. However, as others have stated I am becoming more irritated with the fact that every companion now seems to fall for the Doctor unlike the early days (of the newer series’) where Martha and Donna both never seemed to find him attractive, and so this may throw the show back on track. I’m not saying that Clara won’t be attracted to him, it’s just less likely.

    • Joe Harker

      Actually if I remember correctly Martha was attracted to the Doctor for quite a while. She significantly improved in my eyes once she stopped fancying him.

      In fact I think Martha is the reason the Doctor is so glad to just have a friend I.e. Donna, who didn’t fancy him at all.

  12. Taylor Ramsey

    Capaldi is such a good actor, I cannot imagine him doing poorly. I was really glad they went older again, but I had my hopes set on Ben Daniels.

  13. Camille Brouard

    I wasn’t sure what to think about Capaldi before he was actually chosen, but as soon as it happened (the announcement show was so cheesy but did what it said it would, eventually) I thought ‘yep, I’m looking forward to this.’ I’m looking forward to a new dynamic, maybe instead of lots of ‘oooo, explosions! run away!’ there’ll be more reflection and problem solving. The relationship between the Doctor and Clara could get a bit weird, depending on where they take it, but overall I reckon Capaldi is a good choice.

  14. MelanieC

    I’ll be really honest, when Capaldi was announced I was shocked. I’ve watched the show since 2005 so I’ve seen the Doctor change and was even okay with Tennant’s departure. But I fell completely in love with Smith’s Doctor and so the fact that he was turning into Peter Capaldi was a bit scary. It’s not because of the age difference, or because I did not think he was going to be good, I believe he will be, it’s just his past work that I’ve seen did not make me think of him as the Doctor. I’m biased, I watch an actor in one thing and use it against him for every other role he plays, and so seeing Capaldi in Torchwood: Children of Earth at a pretty young age, and being completely scarred by the actions he takes, made the fact that now he is going to be a hero incredibly hard to register. After the forty seconds that he is in, at the end of the Christmas Special made me so excited for him, so I think my fear of the Twelfth Doctor came from the fact that I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the Eleventh.

  15. Liz Kellam

    I am excited to see what Peter Capaldi brings as the new Doctor. Fun bit of trivia: In World War Z, Capaldi play a doctor for the W.H.O – nice bit of foreshadowing!

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