And then there were twelve. At an elaborate live event, the BBC introduced the actor who will be playing Matt Smith’s successor on Doctor Who. The 12th Doctor is respected character actor Peter Capaldi.
1. He’s a lifelong Whovian.
The live TV special that aired on Sunday revealed that Capaldi “played Doctor Who” at age 9 at the (presumably school) playground. We also learned that at age 15, he wrote a fan letter to the show’s producers, praising them for their work on the 10th anniversary special of the show.
2. He’s already guest-starred on Doctor Who. And Torchwood.
In 2008, Peter Capaldi appeared in “The Fires of Pompeii,” a Season 4 episode starring David Tennant as the Doctor and Catherine Tate as companion Donna Noble. Capaldi’s character was a real-life Roman sculptor named Lucius Caecilius Iucundus (above), and he was portrayed as a sympathetic family man on the show. In the episode, the Doctor saved Caecilius and his family from the destruction of Pompeii by Mount Vesuvius.
The next year, Capaldi starred as conflicted antagonist John Frobisher on the third season of Torchwood, better known as the five-episode miniseries Children of Earth. A standout performer on the show, Frobisher was also a family man, but this one was a keeper of dark government secrets. His and his family’s final fate was one of the storyline’s most chilling plot twists.
3. He is the second actor to portray the Doctor after previously appearing as another character on the show.
The first was Colin Baker, who guest starred as Commander Maxil in “Arc of Infinity” (a 5th Doctor adventure that aired in 1983), a performance that contributed to his being cast as the 6th Doctor a year later.
4. He is the first Academy Award-winning Doctor ever.
Peter Capaldi scored an Oscar for writing and directing a comedic short film called Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life. (It tied for top honors with another short called Trevor. He won a Bafta for it, too.) You can watch the entire short film above.
Coincidentally, Capaldi’s short film starred Richard E. Grant, an actor better known to Whovians as Doctor Simeon, aka the Great Intelligence.
5. His last, most recent role — I kid you not — was credited as “W.H.O. Doctor.”
In this case, W.H.O. stood for the World Health Organization. Capaldi’s suspiciously-named role was in the big summer zombie flick World War Z, released in June 2013.
6. He will be the 3rd Scotsman to portray the Doctor.
Of the other eleven actors to star as the Doctor, only two were Scottish: Sylvester McCoy (the 7th Doctor) and David Tennant (the 10th Doctor). McCoy kept a mild Scottish accent for his tenure in the role — the only Doctor to use this accent — while Tennant dropped his and used a standard British accent. What accent do you suppose Peter Capaldi will employ?
7. He was once in a punk rock band with Craig Ferguson.
While attending Glasgow School of Art, he teamed up with Ferguson and some other mates to form a punk rock band called Dreamboys. Ferguson was the band’s drummer while Capaldi was lead singer!
8. He ties 1st Doctor William Hartnell as the oldest man to play the Doctor.
The choice to go with an older actor after the far younger and more baby-faced Matt Smith was a deliberate one, according to showrunner Steven Moffat. Smart move, if you ask me. I love Smith, but it’s the right time to make a change. Both Hartnell and Capaldi will have begun their stint in the role at the age of 55.
9. He missed finding out he’d landed the role.
The first time his agent called to tell him he’d won the coveted role, he missed the call. He’d set his phone to silent due to working on the set of a new TV production of The Three Musketeers, where he’s starring as villain Cardinal Richelieu. When he later returned her call, his agent greeted him with the words, “Hello, Doctor.”
10. His extensive acting credits include at least six “doctor” roles.
It’s a safe bet that the next Doctor he plays will be the most memorable.