‘Doctor Who’ the role of a lifetime for Peter Capaldi

He’s been watching the show since he was a kid.

One of the biggest fans of the long-running British sci-fi series might just be the guy in the lead role.

Peter Capaldi, who begins his run as the Twelfth Doctor on Saturday, has been watching the show since he was a kid. At 56 years old, that’s an appreciation that dates back to the first Doctor, played by William Hartnell from 1963-1966.

“I’ve been watching the show since I was 5,” says Capaldi during the “Doctor Who” world tour stop in New York. “I absolutely grew up with it. So all of those Doctors probably made me. Even if I hadn’t been cast as the Doctor, my acting would probably have been influenced by [past Doctors] William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, and all of the other guys. Because those were the actors that I really watched every moment of, as opposed to Laurence Olivier.”

“Doctor Who,” for those of you not yet acquainted with show, follows the Doctor, an alien Time Lord who travels through time and space helping to save the world from various threats like the iconic Daleks.

The show handles multiple actors playing the Doctor through the concept of regeneration. Matt Smith, who played the Eleventh, passed the torch to Capaldi in a special episode that aired last November.

Capaldi is best known for his role of the foul- mouthed Malcolm Tucker on the BBC series “The Thick of It.” He’s also acted in numerous other BBC series, from “The Hour” to “The Musketeers” to … “Doctor Who.”

Capaldi, while new to the role of Doctor, had actually appeared on the series in the 2008 episode “The Fires of Pompeii.” He guest starred as Caecilius, a merchant from the doomed city, who has dealings with the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant. And no, at that point he didn’t have his eyes set on getting his doctorate, so to speak.

“I wasn’t thinking about being the next Doctor,” he says. “I mean, I was just delighted to be in the show because I love the show.”

So what would Capaldi, who was such a fan that you can find letters he sent as a teen in “Doctor Who” fan club magazines, want to bring to the series he’s been watching his entire life?

“Well, the thing I always wanted to bring to it was me.,” he says, laughing. “So I got lucky with that one. The thing is, every day it’s like, it’s full of moments that you go, ‘Oh wow, I’m the Doctor, this is amazing.’ But think of the first time you make your escape through a ventilation shaft! It’s quite special.”


The season 8 premiere of ‘Doctor Who’  airs on Saturday at 8 p.m. on BBC America.

Scott A. Rosenberg