Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi talks about Twelve’s regeneration, his final year in the TARDIS and why the show matters.
Doctor Who’s new season is set to kick off on April 15. The Doctor’s return has a fairly bittersweet feel this time around, however. Yes, we’re finally getting new episodes, but we’re also gearing up to say goodbye. With Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi’s departure looming ever closer, it’s hard to know exactly how to feel. Mixed emotions doesn’t even begin to cover it.
And if that’s how the fans feel – imagine how weird it must be for the Doctor himself. Capaldi sat down with the New York Times to chat about preparing for his final season. (It’s still amazing to me that Doctor Who has become such a global phenomenon that the NYT is doing profile pieces on the people that play the Doctor now. We have really arrived, Whovians.)
Anyway, Capaldi’s interview is as charming and lovely as you might expect. He shares several tidbits about filming. And it rapidly becomes apparent that he loves everything about being the Doctor, approaching the role with the kind of gleeful wonder that can only come from someone who is himself a fan. He discusses his decision to hang up his sonic screwdriver. And, of course, he talks about Twelve’s end. (Sniff.)
Capaldi won’t film his final scenes as the Doctor until later this summer, but he apparently knows what happens. Sort of. And whatever it is, it’s allegedly not as “straightforward” as previous change-overs between Doctors.
"I know what’s going to happen. It’s more complicated than that. There’s this notion now that it’s the same process he’s gone through every time, and that’s not true. It’s only the last couple of regenerations that have been, as it were, fairly straightforward ones. I can’t go into the details of a lot of it, because I know what happens, but I don’t know how it happens."
No offense, Doctor, but one could make the case that David Tennant’s massive farewell tour of a regeneration was anything but straightforward. So, what does he mean by this? Well, this is a Steven Moffat story. (The final Moffat story, as it were, since the showrunner will depart Doctor Who this season as well.) About the only thing we can be sure of is that it’ll probably be a very complicated situation.
But at least we can rest easy that – for a little while longer, at least – the Doctor is in good hands. At the very end of this interview, Capaldi is asked to sort of situate the idea of the Doctor – and of Doctor Who itself – into our current cultural moment. There’s so much upheaval in the world. What difference does a show about a time traveling alien with a sentient police box make? A lot, actually.
Capaldi sums up the value of Doctor Who quite eloquently:
"It offers hope for the power of kindness and intelligence and care. The Doctor is someone who sees the big picture, and has seen how the human race is — he loves the human race, because he sees its cruelty, but also astonishing kindness and heroism. The Doctor is a beacon of goodness, and that’s why he can survive all these different permutations — an abrasive character or an avuncular character or a strange character. Because at heart, he is, in essence, a good creature. I think we need heroes like that."
Let’s hope, that whoever the next Doctor is, he or she understands the fabric of this series in the same way.
Doctor Who Season 10 premieres Saturday, April 15 on BBC One and BBC America.