Time certainly flies, doesn’t it! It only feels like yesterday… but three years ago today, following the shocking announcement that Matt Smith would be leaving Doctor Who, the world was to be introduced to his successor.
Speculation was running wild and excitement levels were soaring high – but after the dust had finally settled, only one thing was certain: Peter Capaldi was The Twelfth Doctor!
The announcements for new Doctors have certainly become more lavish in recent years – Matt Smith was revealed at the end of a special episode of Doctor Who Confidential, and Peter Capaldi’s introduction was perhaps the grandest entrance to the Whoniverse yet. At 7pm on 4th August 2013, the BBC aired a last minute addition to the schedules (announced just two days beforehand) – Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor!
Presented by Zoë Ball, this television treat promised to reveal the identity of the Twelfth Doctor live to the nation – and indeed to the world, also being simulcast in the United States, Canada, and Australia – complete with special guests and interviews. Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Bernard Cribbins all made an appearance on the sofa to discuss their thoughts on the reveal (as did comedian Rufus Hound in an infamously embarrassing interview, before eventually appearing in the series itself as Sam Swift in The Woman Who Lived). Matt Smith himself even popped up via video to wish the next Doctor all the best in the role. As the show reached its climax, the stage door opened: clutching his lapels in the style of William Hartnell and surrounded by cheers and fanfare, through the smoke came “a hero for a whole new generation”… Peter Capaldi!
Best known at the time for playing foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It and In The Loop, the then-55-year-old actor was a firm if surprising choice for the part. Having already played the role of Caecilius in Doctor Who Series 4’s The Fires of Pompeii (a connection that did not go ignored, directly alluded to in Series 9’s The Girl Who Died). Peter revealed that he had initially missed the call from his agent telling him that he was the new Doctor, as he was filming on The Musketeers at the time. It would later transpire that Peter was, in fact, the only name considered by Steven Moffat for the part.
Initial reactions were positive, and Peter’s Doctor Who reveal was watched by 6.27 million people in the UK alone – in the words of Zoë Ball: “I think it’s safe to say we liked ya!”
Becoming the Doctor
Peter’s made a brief appearance (well his eyebrows did) in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special on the 23rd November 2013. Followed by the Christmas Special in which he regenerated from Matt Smith in the final minutes of The Time of The Doctor. Fans would then be left waiting until August 2014 – a whole year after Peter was revealed as The Twelfth Doctor! – before his debut episode, Deep Breath kicked off Series 8.
To date, Peter has starred in two full series of Doctor Who alongside Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, and he will return to our screens on Christmas Day 2016 for a brand new festive episode, followed by his third full series in Spring 2017 (accompanied by new companion Pearl Mackie as Bill).
There’s no telling exactly how long Capaldi will stay in the TARDIS, but we’re certainly not ready to see him leave just yet – may his reign as the rebel Time Lord be a long and triumphant one!