Twelfth Doctor 101

It has now been one week since the identity of the Twelfth Doctor was released. Has it really only been a week? I guess a week is a long time on Tumblr. In any case, we now know that Peter Capaldi will be playing the twelfth incarnation of the Doctor on the BBC’s long-running sci-fi series, Doctor Who. Suddenly, a lot of Doctor Who fans have been made aware of Peter Capaldi and they might be wondering where to look for his previous performances. Here are some recommendations for what you might watch to become familiar with Mr. Capaldi and his acting chops.

Firstly, I wanted to address the elephant in the room. Yes, Peter Capaldi is another skinny white guy who is sort of hipster-ish. Many fans of the show – including myself – were hoping the next Doctor might be a woman, a POC, or even a combination of the two – a woman of color. We’ve been disappointed yet again, it seems. But who among you honestly wanted Moffat to write a woman Doctor? I think he’s done an abysmal job of portraying his female characters, so I’d hate to see what he would do with a female Doctor. However, they could have easily chosen a man of color from a long list of candidates, so there’s no excuse for that.

So yes, he fails on the diversity checklist. But hopefully Capaldi will win over some fans with his acting abilities. Personally, although I was disappointed that we weren’t going to get a Helen Mirren Doctor, I was thrilled to hear they had picked Capaldi. As you might remember, I wrote obsessively in-depth recap posts of The Thick of It – a political comedy starring Capaldi – earlier this year. Needless to say, I am quite chuffed, as the Brits would say, to see him in a new role so soon after The Thick of It ended for good.

Although he’s got the whole “skinny white guy” thing working against him, I do think there are several ticks in the “good decision” column for Capaldi as the Doctor. Firstly, Capaldi is a massive fan of the show from way back when. At the BBC’s announcement of the twelfth Doctor, they revealed a letter Capaldi wrote to the Radio Times when he was just fifteen years old, discussing the 25th anniversary of the show. And here we are at the 50th anniversary and he’s been chosen to be the Doctor. I know it’s not a requirement that the actor playing the Doctor is a fan of the show, but I think it lends a special something to the role.

Secondly, Capaldi is an amazing actor. I know this is a subjective statement to make and I am heavily subjective when it comes to Peter Capaldi. But here are some recommendations that might convince you that Capaldi has the backlog of acting projects to be the Doctor.

The Thick of It (2005-2012): Obviously this was going to be number one on my list. Peter Capaldi plays Malcolm Tucker, the sweary spin doctor for the British government, who is loosely based on Tony Blair’s own spin doctor. Malcolm swears creatively in every sentence he speaks, but his silent moments are just as fearsome as when he’s shouting at naughty ministers, and that’s all down to Capaldi and his very expressive face. I believe the only reason audiences like and feel for Malcolm is that Capaldi portrays him in a sympathetic way. Be sure to check out the companion film, In the Loop, as well!

Outside sweary political satire, though, Capaldi has done some amazing acting in other projects. I fear that people might be expecting him to be Malcolm Tucker in the TARDIS, the way they thought The Casual Vacancy was going to be a repeat of Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling. So, let’s explore some of what Capaldi has done outside the sweary spin doctor. For one thing, he has already portrayed characters in the Who “˜verse.

Torchwood: Children of Earth (2009): Here Capaldi portrays a very different type of character in the government. John Frobisher has no power at all and certainly can’t bully his way to the top as Malcolm does. Frobisher is pushed around by the Prime Minister and others above him, and Capaldi does a wonderful job of portraying this poor, doomed character. This is a must-watch for Who fans anyway, so check it out! Just don’t forget the tissues.

“Fires of Pompeii” (2008): In this Doctor Who episode, which featured the tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna, Capaldi played Caecilius, an art collector and man living in Pompeii just before Vesuvius is set to blow. I won’t give away anything else about the episode, but I think it’s hilarious that Doctor Who reuses actors this way. Fires of Pompeii also stars Karen Gillan, who went on to be Amy Pond.

The Hour (2012): In this wonderful BBC show about a news program in the 1950s and ’60s, Capaldi is Randall Brown, the new head of news who arrives in the second season. Randall comes the Paris news bureau, is more than a bit OCD, and is very soft-spoken. He also has a secret history with Lix Storm, the amazing head of the foreign desk portrayed by Anna Chancellor. The show is fabulous, despite being cancelled after this latest season, and Capaldi’s performance is – at times – heartbreaking.

Fortysomething (2003): This is a bit of a weird one, that’s for sure. The main focus of the this comedy is Paul Slippery – portrayed by Hugh Laurie – a doctor who is facing a mid-life crisis. Overall, I wasn’t too keen on this show because it was just a bit too weird, and tried a bit too hard. But Peter Capaldi plays a doctor named Ronnie Pilfrey, who also works in Hugh Laurie’s practice. He’s a major weirdo, but he’s also super hilarious. Also, Anna Chancellor is in this as well and she’s just awesome.

Local Hero (1983): While the other recommendations have all been television roles, Capaldi has also starred in many feature films. His first film role was in Local Hero, a film about an American oil company that wants to buy up some land in Scotland. I actually haven’t watched this film yet, but from what I’ve seen on Tumblr, baby!Capaldi is positively adorable. This film is actually on YouTube, if you’re interested in watching it, but you didn’t hear it from me.

The Love Child (1988): Capaldi plays Dillon, a young man who was born to hippie parents who have long since absconded and left him in the care of his grandmother. Dillon works in an office and is quite straight-laced until he meets Bernadette, who changes his world and gets him in touch with those love child roots of his. Is it a masterpiece of film artistry? No. But Capaldi is adorable and his Cockney accent isn’t half bad.

There you have it, a recommendations list for those Who fans who might be wondering about this Peter Capaldi fellow. I have not watched Doctor Who since Moffat’s second season as showrunner because I abhor his writing and think he has done horrible things to the show. However, I’m weak when it comes to Peter Capaldi, so I’ll be tuning in to see what he’s like as the twelfth Doctor. What are your thoughts on this casting decision? Who else can’t wait until Christmas?

6 thoughts on “Twelfth Doctor 101”

  1. I was so disappointed to hear that the new Doctor isn’t a woman/POC/WOC. At least Peter Capaldi is a brilliant actor – I’m actually a huge fan too! – who I think will handle the role exceedingly well.

    I just don’t understand why Moffat kind of hmmed and hawed about how it could be a woman, and then cast another white male. It makes me wonder if Moffat is trying to have his cake and eat it – publicly declaring his support for a woman in the role and then backpeddling and casting a white male because “he was the best choice”. That’s not meant in any way to disparage Capaldi’s talents, because I think he’s an excellent actor. I just mean that TV producers do have this terrible habit of overlooking actors of colour and using this as their reasoning.

    I would love to see a man of colour playing the Doctor – there were certainly a few exciting names being thrown around before the official announcement.

    Well, at any rate, I’m looking forward to an older Doctor in the TARDIS.

    1. I agree, they’ve chosen a really great actor and I think he’s definitely up to the task of portraying the Doctor.

      Did he really hem and haw about it, though? I kept seeing a quote from him that basically dismissed the idea. He said something about Helen Mirren calling for a female Doctor and responded by saying maybe we should have a male queen. Which just…doesn’t make any sense at all, and is also pretty ignorant. I don’t think he would ever consider it a possibility, given his past stated opinions on women.

      Yeah, I’m obviously not opposed to Capaldi, but it looks like he was the *only* actor in the running, which seems odd. There were tons of exciting names being listed, but apparently those in charge weren’t listening. It’s a shame, but yeah, I think Capaldi is going to do a great job.

      1. I kind of remember a clip (it was shown just before that one about Helen Mirren) where he said that the “time was right”? I remember how his clip about The Queen being played by a man was so confusing to me because just before he’d said something mildly supportive.

        Unless! I’m not remembering the live announcement correctly at all (and with my memory that wouldn’t be a shocker). In any case, I’ve just done a quick google and I’m hearing all sorts of silly things like “Women didn’t want a female Doctor”.

        That’s just….made-up.

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