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So Just Who Is Peter Capaldi?

So Just Who Is Peter Capaldi?

By Tim Butcher

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So the wait is over. After all the theories and speculation and anticipation and suspense, we finally know who the new Doctor is. And it’s….oh, er. Who’s he?

To be fair, there’s plenty of precedent here. It’s not like most of us went, "oh, hey, it’s that guy from Party Animals, the BBC television drama about parliamentary advisers that ran from January 2007 to March 2007" when Matt Smith came onto the scene.

But still. It won’t be until 2014 that we actually get to watch Peter Capaldi in action, so if we want to figure out what kind of Doctor he'll be, all we've got is his life and work so far. So! Let's take a look.

Capaldi was born and grew up in Glasgow, a Scottish city perhaps best known (fairly or unfairly) for being a little bit rough. Apparently, he displayed an early talent for performance by putting on a puppet show at school. Well, to be fair, that’s kinda what Doctor Who is—just with really, really good puppets.

But Capaldi is no stranger to Whovian lore. In fact, he’s been following the series since before a lot of us were born (he is 55). Check this out—it’s a letter he sent to Radio Times in 1974 when he was 15, praising them for an article on the series’ 10th Anniversary! “I hope that in 15 years time, in 1988, you will publish another special to celebrate 25 years of wondering in time with the Doctor,” he writes, before continuing: “And then, in 40 years time, you can interview me about becoming the Doctor myself!”. Okay, we made that last part up, but that would have been awesome.

He went on to study at the Glasgow School of Art, and, weirdly enough, played in a band (called Dreamboys) with famous Whoavian and fellow Scot, Craig Ferguson!

Something else you may not know: Capaldi actually has won an Oscar! But it wasn’t for acting. He was the writer and director of Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life, which scooped the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 1995.

He’s no stranger to Sci-Fi, either. He played an Angel named Islington in Neil Gaiman’s gothic fantasy film for the BBC, Neverwhere. But the more eagle eyed among you may have noticed that he’s actually already been in Doctor Who! Yes, you heard us right. Who remembers the 4th series episode, The Fires Of Pompei? There he is, enthusing about the TARDIS as if he already knows what’s coming. And, hey, the weirdness doesn’t stop there. Did you ALSO know that Karen Gillan actually turned up for the first time in that episode too, playing a Soothsayer? Seriously, look it up!

But if you want to know what Capaldi’s best known for, check out his work as political Spin Doctor Malcolm Tucker in British sitcom The Thick Of It. If you’ve kinda gotten used to the idea of the Doctor being a nice guy, maybe leave it be. Foul mouthed doesn't even begin to describe his portrayal.

Clearly, he’s going to be a departure from the nerdy silliness of Matt Smith (“Fezzes are cool!”) or the cheeky enthusiasm of David Tennant (“Allonz-y!”), but is that all bad? Perhaps a bit of an intense, world-weary Doctor could be interesting (although, again, if he draws from The Thick Of It, that really would be different). Whatever the case, we’ll only really know what kind of Doctor he is when he steps out of the TARDIS and into our lives.

What do you think of the choice of Peter Capaldi?

Tags: tv, doctor who, bbc, matt smith, david tennant, peter capaldi

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