GeekPlanetOnline's resident Doctor Who Correspondent Martin Thompson takes a deeper look at the adventures of a mad man in a box, along with his friends, foes and fandom. With over fifty years of rubber monsters, changing faces, dented police boxes, exterminations and pointed goatees to look at, he has more than a few things to say on the subject...
Well, thank sweet Minbari Jesus that’s over with!
All the speculation can come to an end as the Twelfth Doctor has now been cast. It would have been too much to hope that we would wait until Matt Smith’s regeneration scene to find out his identity but this is the information age we now live in. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been asked who I would want to be the next Doctor and I still haven’t come up with a decent answer. Based on his impassioned performance as Freddie Lyon in The Hour, I would have loved to see Ben Wishaw who already has one iconic role under his belt as the new Q in the James Bond movies. A friend of mine also suggested Damien Malony who was brilliant as Hal in Being Human.
Back in the days of the classic series an announcement in the papers, probably tucked away on page 5, would have been all we had. “Colin Baker would like to announce his intention to be the next Doctor Who” or maybe the last item on the news. In 2013 it’s a full live show hosted by Zoe Ball which mercifully lasted only half an hour. When Matt Smith was announced, it was in a special edition of Doctor Who Confidential and he popped up amongst the talking heads doing very Doctorish things with his fingers. With Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor, I fully expected the BBC to fill up the show with pointless interviews, old clips and probably a quiz and padding the whole thing out like they do the numbers on the National Lottery. They still did most of that (seriously, the kid from Outnumbered?) but it was kept to a minimum and to be fair if you managed to bag a ticket for that studio audience, it must have been an electric atmosphere and certainly a once in a lifetime (unless they do it again in three years) experience for a fan. I expect this format was chosen to make use of the various live reactions from fans on Facebook and Twitter which were hardly the most insightful in the world.
Peter Capaldi is a name that has been touted about during the last few days but he’s someone that I’ve often thought would be too big of a name to cast. He’s already appeared in the whoniverse, twice as Caecilius in 2008’s The Fires of Pompeii and as John Frobisher in 2009’s Torchwood: Children of Earth. Fires also featured the first appearance of Karen Gillan so Phil Davis for Thirteenth Doctor anyone? When Colin Baker appeared as Commander Maxil in 1983’s Arc of Infinity the theory about Time Lord regeneration templates was touted so who knows what continuity explanations we will get put forward this time. However, Capaldi’s most well known role is that of sweary spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in the political sitcom The Thick of It and its 2009 cinematic spin off In the Loop and already the Internet memes have begun. Despite this, the roles he has often taken tend to be quiet men rather than aggressive ones starting off in the much-loved 1983 film Local Hero. Personally, I loved him as Sid’s dad Mark Jenkins in teen drama Skins including a particularly emotional death scene.
Will he make a good Doctor though? Many actors have been touted for this part but just because you can act doesn’t mean you will have that something extra. Idris Elba was a dream choice for many, but would he have been able to bring out the character’s eccentricities? Out of all the actors to play the part, Christopher Eccleston always seemed a bit too straight-laced whereas David Tennant and Matt Smith have embraced the geekier side. With his range, Capaldi can certainly play the quiet genius and the voice of authority that the role demands. One look at his face and you can certainly believe he’s an arch manipulator too in case the character goes down the Seventh Doctor route. Will he get to keep his Scottish accent? At 55, he’s the second oldest actor to play the Doctor. There’s certainly a lineage you can see there, you can believe that this man could have been Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton or David Tennant. I wonder if, being an older and already well established actor, he is more likely to stay in the role longer than the customary three years.
The bottom line with me though is that I’m happy with the choice and hoping that I can see the role rather than the actor once he begins but then I have had similar experiences with Peter Davison, Jon Pertwee and Christopher Eccleston. Could this all be a trick though? Bring in a big name actor and then reveal the guy from the BT ads once Matt regenerates? From the advert for The Puppet Gameshow before the programme, I could believe that this is all a joke. Also before Doctor Who Live was kids' nature show Deadly 60 and not even they could match the fearsome creature that is a new Doctor. The response I’ve seen so far has been overwhelmingly positive and hopefully the fans will have the good grace to at least see his first episode before condemning him. Asked to sum him up, Steven Moffat gave three words: “Different. Than. Matt” and he’s certainly going to be that.
Good luck to Peter. He’s a fine actor and I can’t wait to see what new spin he will put on one of television’s most well loved characters.