“I’m The Doctor. I’ve lived for over two thousand years. And not all of them were good…”
Deep breath, everyone. It’s time to blow out some candles… today’s The Doctor’s birthday!
After Matt Smith announced that he would be departing from Doctor Who in 2013, speculation ran rife about who would be the next actor to step aboard the TARDIS. In August that year, Peter Capaldi was announced to the world as The Twelfth Doctor in a live broadcast on BBC One – and what a journey he’s been on since!
Of course, whereas his immediate predecessor had been a relative unknown when they were cast, Peter Capaldi was quite the opposite and had already enjoyed many years of success in the industry. Most famously he played the foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in four series of The Thick of It (2005-2012) as well as its spin-off movie In The Loop (2009) – a role for which he won the BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance in 2010, in addition to the British Comedy Award for Best TV Comedy Actor in both 2010 and 2012. Capaldi has also had award success for his work behind the camera, having written and directed Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1995) which won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film and a BAFTA for Best Short Film. It doesn’t stop there, either – he has appeared in various dramatic and comedic roles over the years, including the angel Islington in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, Cardinal Richelieu in the BBC adaption of The Musketeers, and appearances alongside comedy duo Mitchell & Webb (who provided the voices of the robots in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship) in sitcom Peep Show and 2007 film Magicians.
However, back in the world of the Whoniverse, we were treated to our first glimpse of what The Twelfth Doctor had in store as part of the show’s iconic fiftieth-anniversary celebrations. With a flash of attack eyebrows in 2013’s The Day of the Doctor, it was clear that The Eleventh Doctor’s successor was going to be a different beast entirely. Yet, this was not Peter’s first appearance in the show, having previously played the role of Lobus Caecilius in 2008’s The Fires of Pompeii opposite David Tennant and Catherine Tate, as well as the tragic civil servant John Frobisher in 2009’s Torchwood: Children of Earth. But, as a lifelong fan of the series, Capaldi finally stepped into his dream job on Christmas Day 2013 after Matt Smith regenerated in The Time of the Doctor. Shame he didn’t like the colour of his new kidneys, though.
Fast forward to August 2014, a whole year after his initial casting, and The Twelfth Doctor at last made his triumphant debut in Series 8. His first full story, Deep Breath, was an extended 75 minutes long and was broadcast on televisions and cinemas all across the UK. Capaldi has since starred in 26 episodes and in two series alone he has already faced off against the Daleks, the Cybermen, The Master, Davros, and the Time Lords… and he’s visited both Gallifrey and Skaro, to boot! Notable moments from The Twelfth Doctor’s tenure so far include the chilling tale of Listen, the climactic events in Dark Water/Death in Heaven, the genesis of a villain in The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar, the iconic anti-war speech in The Zygon Inversion, and his masterful acting performance seen in Heaven Sent. After forgetting his dear friend and companion Clara Oswald in the Series 9 finale Hell Bent, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor was last seen in the 2015 Christmas special The Husbands of River Song, now travelling alone and flying off in search of a new companion for Series 10.
Both Peter and The Twelfth Doctor have gone through a lot in the last couple of years – on screen, the character has evolved from an otherworldly grump to a cosmic rock star, giving Capaldi the chance to showcase some of the electric guitar skills that he honed as the front man of punk rock band The Dreamboys in his youth. Off screen, Peter has served as an extraordinary ambassador for Doctor Who, embarking on a global World Tour in 2014 to mark the launch of Series 8, and making appearances at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con and Doctor Who Festival to promote Series 9. He has even lent his vocal talents to reprise the character in the recent LEGO Dimensions videogame, which also saw him get his own LEGO mini-figure.
What else is there to say about our incumbent Time Lord? With stellar performances, a return to the more alien personality of the earlier Doctors, and a very stylish choice of outfits, he’s the rebellious time-traveller for a whole new generation. His chemistry in and out of the show with former companion Jenna Coleman has been a joy to watch develop, and we can’t wait to see what he gets up to next when Doctor Who begins filming again soon. We can only hope he stays in the role for a long, long time to come!
We wish Peter all the best for his 58th birthday today, and we hope you’ll join us in celebrating all of his achievements – past, present… and future! Now, come on everybody, whip out your sonic shades and start shredding the Doctor Who theme tune on your air guitar! Dun du dun, dun du dun, dun du dun, dun du dun…