Doctor Who TV’s 12th Doctor Casting Verdict
Doctor Who TV writers give some early thoughts on Capaldi’s casting, followed by the reader poll results.
Regeneration is always a saddening time for all Whovians young and old but at the same time proves the most exciting. While we will sadly lose Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, a brilliant young actor who has come a long way and proved his worth, we shall be gaining a brand new Doctor and all the mysteries that come with him.
During Doctor Who Live I was full of anticipation as to who would become the Twelfth Doctor and would I consider the chosen actor to be the right person. It’s safe to say yes I do think Moffat and the team have picked very wisely with Peter Capaldi. Although I’m not 100% familiar with his work, only seeing him prior to this in his Doctor Who appearances within ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ and Torchwood: Children of Earth and a couple of episodes of The Thick of It, I believe just by his appearance alone I see the Twelfth Doctor and gleam in excitement. He has a very Doctorish presence about himself and I think this comes across in his age and his nature as a long time fan of the show. We haven’t had an older Doctor in a while, with the slight exception of Christopher Eccleston back in 2005, and this is another layer of excitement added to the mix because there are further possibilities as to how his incarnation will be portrayed.
I see Capaldi becoming a sort of Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker type Doctor which will be most interesting on the account they are two of my favourite Doctors. I also see him being very dark and authorial with his incarnation, bringing about more of his manipulative ways as seen recently with Matt’s Doctor. I can also see him being more of a no-nonsense guy like Pertwee and Eccleston before him and perhaps straying back to his days of man of action (nudge, nudge the return of Venusian Aikido). I can also see him being more Pertwee when he interacts with Kate Stewart and UNIT. Perhaps Capaldi might even slip in some William Hartnell moments. There are many possibilities and it’s all guesswork until we actually see him onscreen next year in Series 8. I believe Capaldi will be a Classic Doctor, not just in the sense of resembling that type of Doctor, but also in the sense he will be loved and remembered vividly by Whovians for years to come. I look forward to the Twelfth Doctor’s arrival and all he has to bring to the table.
2014 can’t come soon enough. Bring on Capaldi!
I’ve no qualms about Capaldi’s casting. As a lifelong fan of the show, I’d expect his performance to be passionate and exuberant. With Capaldi, the Doctor will inhabit a body that reflects his true age: a countenance that marks his unparalleled wealth of experience. He is, at first, a brooding, introspective individual, ruminating on his own ‘mythic’ status in wake of his predecessor’s decision to wipe the slate clean.
Instead of another timey-wimey story-arc or overarching mystery, I’d prefer Moffat to adopt a single, simple, yet potentially enriching premise: the Twelfth Doctor’s tenure witnesses the character’s ascension and complete integration into myth. This is layered throughout the series. It is character-driven (e.g. Clara’s growing sense of alienation from the Doctor; her frustrations and weariness with this new personality, which precipitates her decision to leave, of her own volition).
The Twelfth Doctor is, for lack of a better term, ‘invisible’. This is mirrored in his personality, demeanour, and apparel. “All the world’s a stage” it seems, with this incarnation, for he habitually utilises artifice to confound, beguile, and stymie his adversaries. He appears to be a time-travelling thaumaturge, employing quasi-Machiavellian tactics. A contradictory incarnation: he debunks superstitions and untruths, with cold scientific method/logic and rationalism, sceptical of preternatural goings-on being what they are claimed, yet encourages his own myth, with an unnerving verve. During this period of his life, he wears a suit with a cape slung over his shoulder; a theatrical persona.
The Doctor’s sense of personal identity, and clarity of vision, becomes endangered, in subsequent series, as the worlds of reality and fabrication conflate. Following an epiphany, he would seek a new companion to ground him in reality once more; to dispel the illusions he has created, to emerge once more into the light.
With Capaldi’s age, and establishment as an actor, I’d be expecting his Doctor to convey an air of senior authority and clout. At times, he is a distinctly alien authority; an inscrutable demigod striding amongst mortals. At others, he is a gentleman of the Victorian mould, his dynamic with others kindly and paternal. However, as detailed above, he would become increasingly artificial as an incarnation, with his perfunctory illusions. The Doctor could be seen to be reading in the TARDIS library, practicing for his next incredible feat. He is a perfectionist, fastidious; vexed when Clara makes repeated ‘mistakes’ (“Stupid girl!”).
With Twelve, I’d expect an incarnation who exercises greater self-control over his darker side. However, he would occasionally slip over to the dark side, particularly in his antagonism with the Daleks. Wholly ruthless and calculating before them, his mastery of artifice and subterfuge finds its greatest challenge – and triumph – within the Daleks: deliberately engineering an internecine Civil War throughout the Dalek Parliament, tricking the Daleks into annihilating each other.
When I heard that Peter Capaldi was the next Doctor, my reaction was a bizarre mix of both elation and surprise. Whilst a bit of me was expecting Capaldi to take the role, I was quite certain that the next Doctor would either be black or female, because that was the source of recent controversy. However, I was thrilled to bits that the next Doctor was a white British male. Not because I was against the idea of a black Doctor (good heavens; that would be awful of me), but because I realised that the actor was chosen not to be contentious or politically correct (contraries perhaps, but that would have indisputably been the response), but because it was genuinely believed that he was the man for the job.
I’m going to be honest in saying that the Eleventh Doctor hasn’t been my favourite incarnation. This is because he is often very irresponsible and childish (despite the fact that when he has his darker moments, he fascinates me more than any other). He often acts puerilely and/or tactlessly at exactly the wrong time. Capaldi, on the whole, plays a very different character. I can envisage Capaldi playing a Machiavellian Doctor; embodying the colder, calculating aspects of the character. I can’t say I’ve seen him in a great deal, but the role which sticks out in my mind is as John Frobisher in The Children of Earth. The character was a flawed but essentially good man who ultimately had to pay for his mistakes. I shan’t spoil the ending for those who haven’t seen the episodes, but Capaldi’s performance was the highlight of the whole series. His tormented, often scheming character is exactly what I’d like to see from him as the Doctor. I can’t wait to see how he deals with antagonists such as the Daleks, the Cybermen or even the Valeyard. No doubt he’ll be a Doctor who always has a plan up his sleeve.
Ideally, I’d like to see the new Doctor tackled by a new show-runner. It seems to me that a novel perspective might be what truly freshens up the character for the audience. I’m also inclined to say that he puts on an English accent; for when he does, it has an interestingly ‘brittle’ quality to it.
“I’m over the moon. He’s going to make it absolutely his own. I have complete confidence that, as an actor, he’s going to come up with something wonderful.” – Katy Manning on Peter Capaldi’s nomination as the next Doctor, August 2013.
The above quote puts my feelings about the Twelfth Doctor’s casting in a tight nutshell. I believe that Steven Moffat has done something not particularly groundbreaking but still utterly fantastic. Of course he wasn’t going to go younger, anyone younger than Matt Smith would be in nappies and so casting an acclaimed actor such as Peter Capaldi seems like a no-brainer.
What interests me most about the new Doctor is all the questions that have now arose. Specifically the change in dynamic between Clara and the Doctor. The former has been slinking around the TARDIS spouting coquettish catchphrases for a large chunk of Series Seven so now when she’s faced with an older man (I’m not saying the flirting will stop, to me it just seems unlikely that they’ll continue in this vein, and I recognize that ageism accusations are being tossed around recently) I’m intrigued to see where Moffat, and Jenna Coleman in some respect, take it. You then have River Song, whose place in the show is currently unknown: the Doctor’s wife; will she enter the Twelfth Doctor’s tenure and if so, how will Alex Kingston and Peter Capaldi get on. There are hundreds of queries fans have: how will Capaldi’s incarnation react to the Daleks? The Paternoster Gang? Will he appear prematurely (with Jenna Coleman and John Hurt’s unseasonable appearances, nobody knows when the Twelfth Doctor will make an appearance)? These questions will all be answered in due course, but for now we just have to sit back and savor the recent announcement.
Christmas couldn’t come quicker.
With Capaldi being the favourite in the days running up to the big announcement I thought he was going to be one of the least likely candidates. The bookies track record has been sketchy at best. Add into the mix some of the silly and downright unlikely other names we’d heard from them over the prior weeks (Billie Piper, really?) and I was almost certain it wouldn’t be Capaldi. So naturally it came as a huge shock when they actually announced him!
I didn’t really have an ideal actor in mind beforehand. The one thing I was sure of though was that I wanted an older Doctor. So naturally I am very happy that they have gone down this route. I think it is important to show the wider audience that this role can still be played by anyone of any age. The perceived notion that the Doctor gets progressively younger was something that needed to be rectified. I also think it’s a brave decision from Moffat; it seems that he has cast Capaldi as a direct contrast to Matt Smith’s more child-like Doctor. I cannot imagine Moffat will write him the same as Smith. It should mark something of a return to the show’s roots, which is fitting as we enter the 50th anniversary year and beyond.
As for Capaldi’s acting ability, like John, I am only really familiar with his work in his Doctor Who episode and Torchwood: Children of Earth. While his performance was good in Who, I found him absolutely superb in Torchwood. Capaldi’s age will undoubtedly give the 12th Doctor a more commanding presence and we’ll perhaps we’ll see a darker Time Lord. The companion dynamic with Clara and future companions should be interesting, something more akin to Eccleston and Rose I’d imagine. Although I wouldn’t be surprised to see a younger male companion added to the mix. Regardless, I think we’re in for some exciting times, it’s just a shame we’ll be waiting around a year to see him properly in action.
So how did Doctor Who TV readers vote in the poll last week? Well, it appears Capaldi is a hit. A whopping 76.44% of those who voted (over 10, 000 of you) gave the casting the thumbs up. Only 6.8% were unhappy, with the remaining 16.76% undecided.