Meet the new man flying the Tardis- Crouch End actor Peter Capaldi

Our interview with the new Doctor Who

Peter with co-star Jenna Coleman at the screening in London. BBC/Guy Levy

First look: A still from the first episode Deep Breath. BBC/Adrian Rogers

First published in Film & TV
Last updated
Haringey Independent: Photograph of the Author by , Features Writer

Take off your bowties, unsnap your red braces, and say hello to a very new Doctor. Who? Peter Capaldi, that’s Who.

The Crouch End actor will be crashing onto our screens next Saturday (August 23) for the new series of the cult show, bringing us not only an older incantation of the iconic character, but one with a Scottish accent, grey hair and brows that could ‘take off bottle tops’.

Freetime joined some very excited Whovians and the show’s stars at a preview screening of the first episode and got a chance to find out more about the new man steering the Tardis.

Since his casting was announced a year ago, the general consensus is that the Glaswegian-born thespian was made for the role and writer and producer Steven Moffat joked that his star had been ‘rehearsing to play the Doctor since he was four’.

Peter’s performance certainly seems to honour the long line of actors that have gone before him, with less ‘timey wimey’ flapping about and a more sombre tone.

But the Paddington actor, who made his name as the caustic Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It and film In the Loop, reveals he thought his audition was a ‘disaster’.

“I thought I had done it so badly and so out of the loop, excuse the pun, but I enjoyed the experience so much I thought ‘if that’s it, OK’.”

But, Peter, who as a young man sang in punk band Dreamboys with future comedian Craig Ferguson, did land the part and celebrated by taking a secret trip to Forbidden Plant in London to mingle with the fans.

“The fun of it for me was that they didn’t know I was the Doctor,” he chuckles. “I was the only one who knew I was the Doctor. I won’t go back now!”

He also met with David Tennant and Matt Smith to discuss joining the ‘very unique club’ of actors who’ve played the Doctor.

“I took Matt to lunch and he turned up on crutches and I said ‘What’s happened? and he said ‘This show, this show’ and I thought ‘He’s 30 years younger than me and is on crutches, how am I going to do?’”

Luckily Peter has avoided any injuries himself and said co-star Jenna Coleman is ‘incredible’ and his favourite line so far is ‘’No hanky panky in the Tardis’.

He was more silent than a Weeping Angel about why, but speaking about the much-publicised story that he said there would be no flirting between the Doctor and Clara says: “I think that was inflated in the article into something that it never was, but I can remember in my own head thinking that the whole ‘Papa, Nicole’ thing would be a dangerous route to take.”

Peter Moffat says the Doctor is no longer ‘under Clara’s thumb’ and Peter’s version will be much ruder and more uncontrollable.

The first episode also makes much of the fact the Timelord has gone from having Matt Smith’s 31-year-old face to Peter’s 56-year-old one – but the Haringey resident could actually have played the role two decades ago.

A lifelong fan of the series, he was given the opportunity to audition for the role of the eighth Doctor (which eventually went to Paul McGann) but chickened out, although he did star alongside David Tennant in episode The Fires of Pompeii in 2008.

So how does it feel to finally say ‘I am the Doctor’, a character he describes as ‘funny, joyful, passionate, emphatic and fearless’?

“I love doing it all. I feel I’m a terribly gushy chap and I’ve waited a long time to say that.” He adds: “It’s an extraordinary privilege to play this part. It’s quite frightening to see it on screen and you ask ‘Is that me being the Doctor?’.”

Unlike Tennant, who adopted an English accent for the role, Peter has stuck to his Scottish brogue and says: “It never occurred to me to be anything other than what I am. If he had an English accent you’d be putting something in between me and the character.

“He’s been English for years. I felt it was important to bring the Doctor to me. I think the Doctor is closer to me than Malcolm Tucker was. I’m much nicer than him.”

The 56-year-old who is married with one daughter, says the atmosphere was a ‘little tense’ the first day of filming: “I think people were hoping I wouldn’t be a madman, shouting at them. It was literally stepping into Matt’s shoes and trousers, which I just managed to squeeze into. It was quite frightening.”

Filming on the series wrapped last Wednesday and it seems he is now well on his way to feeling quite at home in the role and is even thinking of making some changes to the Tardis.

“I think in the future I’m going to get a kettle in there. This was discussed on set, it’s quiet in there.”

But despite winning an Oscar for his short film Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, he says he will not be making any changes from behind the camera.

“No. It’s such a demanding job. I have had a go at writing and directing for fun and with this I’m really happy just acting. I have great respect for the people who are doing it, it’s so clever and sharp and witty.”

Deep Breath will air on August 23 on BBC1 and in cinemas nationwide.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree