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Meet the New Doctor Who: Peter Capaldi

Updated on January 10, 2016

Peter Capaldi

Peter Capaldi
Peter Capaldi | Source

Basic facts about Peter Capaldi

Date of Birth: April 14, 1958.

Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland.

Training: Glasgow School of Art

Family Information: Married to Elaine Collins. He has one daughter, Cecily.

Acting Career Highlights: Local Hero, 1983; Turtle Diary, 1985; Lair of the White Worm, 1988; Dangerous Liaisons, 1988; Prime Suspect 3, 1993; The Thick of It, 2005; In the Loop, 2009; World War Z, 2013.

Other Appearances in the Doctor Who Universe: Doctor Who Season Four episode Fires of Pompeii as Caecilius, 2008 and Torchwood, Children of Earth as John Frobisher, 2009.

Greatest Professional Accomplishment: Capaldi won the 1995 Academy Award for Best Short Film for writing and directing Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life. Capaldi is the only Oscar winner ever to play the Doctor.


Who is the New Doctor Who?

Peter Capaldi has just made his debut as the Twelfth Doctor (but fourteenth incarnation) to fly the Tardis in the Britsh science fiction drama, Doctor Who. His first episode, which aired on BBC One on Saturday, August 23, 2014 was called Deep Breath. It featured the Doctor, still reeling from the effects of his most recent regeneration, struggling to solve a rash of murders in Victorian England that seem to have been caused by spontaneous combustion.

His companion, Clara, is taken aback; she's used to a younger-looking Doctor who has behaved almost as if he were a potential boyfriend for her. Now she doesn't know who the Doctor is anymore.

Clara, like all the Doctor's companions, acts as the audience surrogate for the program, and in this episode, writer Stephen Moffat uses her confusion to confront a more urgent marketing problem: how to make an audience also accustomed to younger, sexier Doctors accept this new, older Doctor. Who is this new Doctor Who? Will the audience accept him?


The Four Doctors of New Doctor Who

In this T-shirt, the four Doctors of New Doctor Who emulate the Beatles album cover for Abbey Road. Pictured along with Capaldi are cartoon figures of Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith.
In this T-shirt, the four Doctors of New Doctor Who emulate the Beatles album cover for Abbey Road. Pictured along with Capaldi are cartoon figures of Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith. | Source

Capaldi and the History of Doctor Who

Peter Capaldi has been a lifelong fan of Doctor Who. He made his first small splash into the world of Doctor Who media in 1974, when he wrote the editors of Radio Times Magazine to congratulate them for an article they had published about a special edition they had run on the Doctor Who program. That edition included a blueprint for creating a home-made Dalek; an accompanying photo shows Capaldi and his friends at Highbury Grove School with an example of the finished project.

Since then, he has made two notable appearances in the world of Doctor Who, including a performance as Caecilus, Roman citizen and patriarch of a family whom the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) ultimately rescues from the volcano that destroys Pompeii in the year 79 AD. In his first full episode, Capaldi's Doctor makes several references to the fact that he's seen his own, brand-new face before, although he can't remember quite where or when.

Capaldi also appeared in five episodes of Torchwood: Children of Earth in 2009 as John Frobisher, Permanent Secretary to the Torchwood Home Office.

As the Twelfth Doctor, Capaldi becomes the latest in a long line of men to play the title character in the longest-running science fiction serial in history. Other actors to play the role include:

  • William Hartnell, 1963 - 1966
  • Patrick Troughton, 1966 - 1969
  • Jon Pertwee, 1970 - 1974
  • Tom Baker, 1974 - 1981
  • Peter Davison, 1981 - 1984
  • Colin Baker, 1984 - 1986
  • Sylvester McCoy, 1987 - 1989, 1996
  • Paul McGann, 1996
  • Christopher Eccleston, 2005
  • David Tennant, 2005 - 2010
  • Matt Smith, 2010 0 2013

In addition, two - time Oscar nominee John Hurt made a single appearance as the War Doctor in the 2013 Doctor Who Fiftieth Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor.


Capaldi is announced as the 12th Doctor

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Will the Audience Accept Capaldi as an Older, Darker Doctor?

When Peter Capaldi was first announced to replace outgoing Doctor Matt Smith late last year, some fans were skeptical. In the original Classic series, many of the men who played the Doctor were older men in their forties and fifties. However, since the 2005 reboot, all of the men to take on this role had a youthful appearance, and a new inclination not seen in the Classic series - a habit of flirting with their very young human companions. Not everybody was sure that Capaldi, aged 56, could fulfill the audience expectations for the time-traveling hero.

Now that his first episode, Deep Breath, has aired, it seems quite likely that Capaldi will be very successful as he takes the show in a different direction. Capaldi is an accomplished actor with decades of fine work to his credit; he is the only man ever to play the Doctor who has won an Academy Award. Deep Breath showed us a darker, more thoughtful Doctor who was self-reflective as he considered his new appearance, brilliant as he calculated and countered his enemy's next move, and a little terrifying as he displayed the ruthlessness that is sometimes necessary to save the day. He might not be as affectionate or swoon-worthy as some of his immediate predecessors, but he's certain to keep us on our toes and wildly entertained. Welcome to the fold, Mr. Capaldi!

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