After a long wait, we now know that the next Doctor is Peter Capaldi! Yeah, I wanted a non-white, non-male Doctor too, but Moffat’s said that Capaldi was the only actor he auditioned for the role, so as long as we’ve got Moffat on board I suppose the Doctor will always be white and male. As white male choices go, though, I think Capaldi was a great one. For those of you who don’t know, Capaldi is a 55-year-old actor most known for his role as Malcolm Tucker in the British political satire The Thick of It and its spinoff In the Loop. Like David Tennant, he’s Scottish; unlike Tennant, he’ll get to keep his accent as the Doctor. Capaldi is a huge Doctor Who fan and is delighted to step into the Doctor’s sizable shoes, and I think Capaldi’s going to bring a very different sort of energy to the role. Not gonna lie, I’m a massive fan of his. Let me tell you why.
Readers of this blog may know Capaldi from his previous roles in Doctor Who and Torchwood. Capaldi was in both series before he was cast as the Doctor, so it should be fun to see how they retcon that for the Doctor’s plotline. (Steven Moffat already has a theory, of course). In Doctor Who, Capaldi plays a foolish Roman merchant who accidentally (or maybe not-so-accidentally) buys the Doctor’s TARDIS after it’s been put on sale. He and his family are saved from Pompeii by Donna Noble and the Doctor and live to see another day. In Torchwood’s third series, Children of Earth, Capaldi plays John Frobisher, a civil servant who’s tasked with communicating with the alien race the 456. Capaldi’s portrayal of Frobisher as a good man who’s pushed to the brink, increasingly expendable, and well in over his head was fascinating and horrifying to see.
Capaldi was also in series two of British drama The Hour, where he played Randall Brown, The Hour’s obsessive-compulsive head of news. Despite being the boss, he spends much of his plotline searching for his long-lost daughter, and is able to portray the same sort of driven intensity that he brings to many of his other roles without resorting to swearing. The clip below contains spoilers for The Hour, but you should watch it because it’s a three-minute explosion of emotion done with hardly any dialogue at all. If you had any doubts about Capaldi’s acting ability, I hope this video erases them.
Last but certainly not least, Capaldi’s most well-known role to date has been as the foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, who is widely believed to have been based on real-life foul-mouthed spin doctor Alastair Campbell. If you’re American, just think of him as a fouler-mouthed Rahm Emanuel (yes, it’s possible to be more of a potty mouth than Rahm). Capaldi’s absolutely brilliant here, slicing apart both allies and enemies with a sharp wit and sharper tongue. Though he’s the ostensible villain of this satire, embodying every wrong thing the government does and all the underhanded tactics you hate about it, he plays the role so well that one can’t help but cheer for him and hope that he succeeds. People actually now stop Capaldi in the streets and ask him to tell them off in character as Tucker—they don’t even want an autograph. That ought to tell you something about Capaldi’s charisma.
I’ve never seen Capaldi play manic or juvenile, so the Twelfth Doctor might be closer to Nine than to Ten or Eleven, and if the next series is going to deal with finding Gallifrey, I think some of Eccleston’s dourness is exactly what we need. It’s clear that Capaldi has an amazing range—he can play anything from scared and vulnerable to sneaky and enraged, and he’s capable of showing great depths of emotion without seeming overwrought. Provided he gets good scripts, I’m really looking forward to Capaldi’s tenure as the Doctor. Oh, and if his catchphrase isn’t “We’ve fucking time-traveled, yes?” or “Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off”, I mean, they’re missing out on a prime opportunity.