Tonight in a special 30 minute one-off show broadcast live around the globe, watched on by Time Lords and Companions both past and present, as well a small selection of the country’s loyal fanatics (not least Professor Stephen Hawking), Zoe Ball took a deep breath before excitedly revealing that the identity of the new Doctor is none other than Peter Capaldi.
Show-runner Steven Moffat, having informed the world on Friday that “for the Last of the Time Lords, the clock is striking twelve”, described the decision to cast the man who many know as the foul-mouthed and gloriously funny Malcolm Tucker in political sitcom The Thick of It, also seen before by Who fans opposite the Tenth Doctor in The Fires of Pompeii, as “a search to find someone different to Matt [Smith]” and that, having considered him before but chosen to avoid him, that “now was the right time”. Capaldi himself spoke of how much of a “privilege” it was being offered the role and stated he “could not wait to get started”, but promising his portrayal would feature much less swearing than his Malcolm Tucker persona. The Scottish television and film actor is perhaps a more established star than either David Tennant or Matt Smith were at the time when they were cast in the role of the Doctor and most notably, Capaldi marks the return of an older Doctor, a departure from the youthful incarnations of recent years, being over double the age of Smith.
For the world’s longest running science-fiction show 2013 has already been a monumental year in it’s history, possibly its largest yet. Already ecstatic at the prospect of the 50th anniversary celebrations in November, including a special one-off story which will see Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor come face to face with David Tennant’s Tenth and still reeling from the shock introduction of John Hurt’s unknown incarnation of everyone’s favourite eccentric Time Lord at the end of the last series, fans’ excitement reached fever pitch in June when Smith announced his decision to leave the show.
The internet and the betting rooms went into overdrive, with everyone from Bond actors Ben Whishaw and Rory Kinnear to television favourites Daniel Rigby and Idris Elba being suggested, along with Olivia Coleman leading the list of possible female Doctors. There were even wildcard nominations for the likes of Radio DJ Scott Mills and Muse frontman Matt Bellamy, or an inspired prediction live on the show from a viewer who took Matt Smith’s codename for the new actor “Houdini” to deduce “Harry Houdini: the Doctor is Prince Harry.”
Prior to the announcement, Capaldi was the frontrunner for the part. In fact so certain were people of this decision that for a time bookmakers blocked bets on the Scottish actor. That didn’t stop other speculation raging right up to the minute of the announcement. Mere hours before the announcement was made a leak was reported from within the Doctor Who BBC website, later revealed to be caused by a faulty URL header, which suggested the possibility of a Welsh actor being cast, with a frenzy of names subsequently thrown about, including Aneurin Barnard and more bizarrely, Gavin Henson.
Yet now with all this speculation over, we can look forward to what the Thick of It star will bring to perhaps the most famous character in British television. Since the show was revitalised in 2005 we have seen Christopher Eccleston introduce us to a lonely and troubled outcast, burdened with the memory of the loss of his race before Tennant’s fiercely energetic and quintessentially 21st Century Doctor delighted audiences with his charm and unpredictable energy. Smith’s Doctor has often been hard to pin down, at times seeming to return to the wild eccentricity of classic Doctors like Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy. While continuing to channel the youthful and fun-filled nature of his immediate predecessor, the Eleventh Doctor felt like a man who was tired with the universe, questioning the nature of his own life, especially when confronted by the ghost of himself in the form of John Hurt.
Now as an older Doctor than we have seen in a long time prepares to take the keys to the TARDIS, it will be a treat for fans to discover where Moffat and Capaldi decide to take such a character who, even after half a century on our screens, is still brimming with potential.
What are your thoughts on the Twelfth Doctor? Is he a welcome fresh face or has Steven Moffat made a mistake? Sad to be seeing Matt Smith leave? Let us know in the comments below.
Peter Capaldi will debut as the 12th Doctor on Christmas Day, BBC One