For some, Saturday 23rd August will mark the start of bank holiday weekend meaning an extra day off work to look forward to, but for others the main attraction will be the return of Doctor Who, though this series the eponymous figure appears in a different incarnation.
After much anticipation amongst audiences and fans of the show – could it be a woman? – Peter Capaldi was handed the honour of becoming the next Doctor, the fourth since the show was rebooted by Russell T. Davies in 2005. Davies’ successor, Steven Moffat (writer and show runner) made it very clear that for him Capaldi was the only man for the job: “there was only one audition this time”. Allegedly Capaldi was the only person on Moffat’s short list for the title role and other British stars who were rumoured by the press to be in with a shout weren’t even given a first thought, let alone a second.
Since the show has been revived the Doctor has been getting younger; Christopher Ecclestone was around 40 when he began the show, David Tennant in his early thirties, and Matt Smith was only 26. To go from having such a young doctor to one twice his age is slightly mind-boggling. Having a Doctor twice Clara’s age, rather than one closer to her own, changes their dynamic, and that of the show. And what of the Doctor’s sex appeal, something now synonymous with the role? Capaldi himself has stated that he doesn’t think anyone will fancy him as the Doctor, but isn’t that already a part of the character’s allure and charm?
The Doctor’s relationship with Clara was a friendship first and foremost but with a flirty and humorous edge. It’s been refreshing to see a pairing that has no dramatically romantic overtones, like Rose’s (Billie Piper) love story or Martha’s (Freema Agyeman) over-the-top infatuation. With Capaldi being much older than Coleman, the possible romantic aspects of their relationship will be closely watched. Flirty banter will have to be cut for fear of the Doctor looking like some creepy letch that preys on younger women. So with that in mind, perhaps the Doctor will be forced to take on a more fatherly role; a role we’re not used to, and one that may not work.
This isn’t to say that Capaldi is a bad actor, just one that currently doesn’t seem to fit the bill for the role of the Doctor. Comedy and humour are at the heart of the show so, having been highly successful as Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It, perhaps this will stand the Scot in good stead. Having never seen an episode of said show, perhaps it is Capaldi’s portrayal of the evil Cardinal Richelieu in BBC’s recent adaptation The Musketeers that is marring my ideas of how he will play the Doctor. Images conjured of Capaldi as the Doctor currently consist of a criminal priest plotting to kill the Queen whilst foiling all of the musketeers’ plans. Certainly not what you want from Doctor Who.
The first episode of the new series airs on Saturday at 7.50pm on BBC1 and no doubt millions of viewers will be tuning in to see how Capaldi fares in such an iconic role. I’ll try to reserve my judgement until then, but am secretly hoping this is all a publicity stunt and that Ben Whishaw will pop onto my TV screen as the rightful Doctor. Maybe, despite all reservations, Capaldi might turn out to be rather good.