Peter Capaldi, Scottish actor, has been named the new Doctor, to replace Matt Smith when he leaves during the 50th Anniversary Special. Peter Capaldi is best remembered as Malcolm Tucker, the foul mouth enforcer for the Prime Minister as he deals with the Minister of Social Affairs on The Thick of It.
There is a sense of relief knowing who will take Matt Smith’s place, but there is also that thing that happens as we prepare for 11th’s death. The sense of loss and the unwillingness to accept someone new. Whether you’ve been watching for 50 years or 8, you’ve experienced the loss and regeneration of The Doctor. I grew up watching Doctor Who on PBS. I started with the Fourth Doctor, but I never saw him “die.” Occasionally, I would see the Third Doctor, and randomly Doctor Five, Number Six, or Number Seven. It wasn’t until I started watching in 2005 with Eccleston and saw him change to Tennant that I began to understand all the Whovians who are loud and vocal about not wanting to lose The Doctor they’ve grown used to. Now, when I re-watch Eccleston kiss Rose to absorb the power of the time vortex and see him change, there is a sense of excitement of the adventures about to happen: “The Family of Blood” two-parter, The Library, “Blink”, The Face of Bo, Dr. Yana. Before I knew what was in store, I cried at the loss of Eccleston and could not imagine another person taking his place as The Doctor. Even as I feel sad for Matt Smith’s exit, there is a level of excitement for the new Doctor, especially considering the caliber of actor that is Peter Capaldi.
In preparation for the outcry over Peter Capaldi being cast as the new Doctor, here are four reasons, gleaned from The Thick of It, that shows why Peter Capaldi would make a great Doctor.
1. Sense of Humor: The character of Malcolm Tucker is an angry ball of anger. As the Director of Communications, he is the enforcer for the Prime Minister as well as the “spin doctor” for all press communications when things go to… well, you get it. As that guy, when he delivers a funny line, he does so in such a straitlaced and understated way that the humor catches you off guard. In the first episode of season one, when he speaks to Abbott, the new Minister of Social Affairs, to tell him that the Prime Minister does indeed support the “Snooper Squad” idea, he uses Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” to put the blame for the news mixup on Abbott, taking it off of himself. The delivery was so matter of fact that you almost miss he’s using song lyrics and find yourself laughing in spite of the uncomfortable situation. In the second episode, when Ollie Reeder, the junior policy advisor, demonstrates his knowledge of current events as opposed to Abbott who is oblivious to pop culture, Malcolm, having just been on a rant about Abbott’s cluelessness, says, “See, even he knows,” with a calmness that highlights that he has no respect for Ollie and that he can’t believe how clueless Abbott actually is. There is something about the way Peter Capaldi delivers his comedic lines that makes me excited to see this in use on behalf of the 12th.
2. Fierceness – In season one, episode one, when Malcolm talks to Angela Heaney after she has threatened to write an expose on the “day of spin” for the Snooper Squad debacle, he seems quite reasonable even as he spends every breath cursing and threatening her with the end of her career if she did so. It’s the quiet fierceness that I miss from Tennant. Matt Smith always seemed a little sad when he was threatening. His clownishness underscored his threats, and we haven’t felt the need to tremble since he threatened a sky full of aliens before the Pandorica opened. Both Eccleston and Tennant were good at causing that transition from genial to intensely, dangerously angry. It was the kind of anger I imagine could drain the blood from your face and make your heart drop to your stomach. In every episode during season 1, the anger Peter Capaldi could bring to the character, but also the sense of control he had over his expressions and his actions in the role, is something I look forward to seeing when he plays the new Doctor.
3. Age – While we’ve been worrying about how much younger each successive Doctor has gotten, with Matt Smith being the youngest yet, there was something about him that was aged. There was a look on his face in the most worrying moments as if the fate of the world was constantly on his shoulders. That being said, seeing John Hurt as The Doctor was exciting – almost like getting back to William Hartnell and maybe signaling a clue about the role John Hurt will play in the 5oth. I am hoping the mystery of Hurt will follow through with Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor.
4. Watch how he runs – In the last episode of season 1, Malcolm Tucker has to stop an interview Angela Heaney is having with Hugh Abbott. He runs across the city of London to stop it, of course in his characteristic, foul-mouthed fashion. In the first episode of season 2, Malcolm Tucker hears that one of the stories he thought was bringing someone down was being reported without the corruption angle. He runs from the tv station back to Number 10 to get his people to help make the non-story the story and hide the corruption. If there’s one things we need to know, we need to know we have a Doctor who can run.
We’ve trusted Stephen Moffatt to take over for Russell Davies and we have gotten some great stories, great characters, and great adventures. Even as those of us who felt cheated by Tennant’s death got used to and began to love Matt Smith, those who started with Matt Smith are about to feel our pain, and we empathize. Those of us who have been watching Doctor Who for years know that, despite feeling that slight twinge at not knowing what to expect, getting to know the new Doctor will be a great adventure. Welcome, Peter Capaldi, from an excited Whonatic!