On the 1st of June, 2013, millions of Whovians across the globe awoke to the news that their beloved Matt Smith was to bow out of Doctor Who in the 2013 Christmas Special. Once over the initial shock, social media was whipped into a frenzy as users debated over the identity of Matt’s successor. After over two months of speculation, the BBC finally revealed Peter Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor.
The bookie’s favourite triumphed and Whovians had their new face. But will Capaldi’s Twelve live up to the hype?
In 2005, Christopher Eccleston introduced a new generation to the 900 year old, time-travelling alien. The first season was dark (though with some childish retreats – I’m looking at you Slitheen) and mysterious – fans of the original series were comparing Eccleston to “their” Doctor while new fans were simply joining the new world, immersing themselves in the legend of The Doctor. The relationship between Rose and The Doctor was fantastically portrayed. Although we saw Rose appear to flirt with Nine, they were essentially a father and daughter duo, protecting each other, with Nine making the ultimate patriarchal sacrifice and regenerating to save Rose.
As an older Doctor, Capaldi will surely follow the same route. The relationship between Clara and Eleven has been flirtatious, cheeky, but most of all, fun. Romance has played a big part of the relationships between both Eleven and Clara and Ten and Rose. Certainly, we saw a hint of romance between Amy and Eleven until it became clear that Rory was the only love for Amy. However, reverting back to an older Doctor will surely mean changing back to the paternal structure of the Eccleston era although it could take a backseat in comparison to Nine and Rose – Rose was a new companion and was finding her feet, though Clara has always been feisty and will be a long-standing companion by the time of regeneration. Hopefully, we will also see a hint of the lively friendships that existed between Eleven and Amy, Ten and Rose because of this.
Capaldi will certainly be compared to Eccleston, if only because of their age. Whovians will also be looking to his previous roles in the Who-niverse, from the season 4 episode Fires of Pompeii and spin-off Torchwood. The choice to bring in an older actor could alienate some viewers, although if Capaldi is able to adapt to the role as he has done in his past work (I don’t believe it possible to watch him in World War Z and link his character to the notoriously foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It – the characters are not only so wildly different, but Capaldi expertly brings a calming nature to his WWZ character that polarises him from the erratic Tucker) then Whovians have no worries.
Capaldi may be compared to past Doctors (but then, who hasn’t been?) but he will certainly be able to capture the magic, the soul and the essence of the Doctor. His joviality, his innocence but also his past, his secrets (if there are any left after November’s 50th anniversary special), his emotional burdens. However Capaldi approaches the character, there will always be some viewers who are clutching desperately to the days of Eleven. Capaldi can only hope to leave his own mark on the character, a lasting image that will distinguish him from the mysterious Nine but will share the warmth and heart of Ten and Eleven that captured the spirits of fans across the globe. This is no easy task, although Capaldi has proved himself to be an accomplished actor, one who, I’m sure, will shine in the role.
We are currently seeking Doctor Who contributors on WhatCulture. To find out more about the perks of being a Doctor Who contributor, click here.