Friday, August 22, 2014

Who Is.. Peter Capaldi?

Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman
Image: © BBC

"Stay calm! Just one question. Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?"

Saturday 23rd August 2014 marks the debut of actor Peter Capaldi's first full story as the Twelfth Doctor, with co-star Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald alongside for further adventures through time and space. This is a man whose physical presence once more reflects much older times, when the Doctor was young though mature in appearance. Regeneration is the power of a Time Lord, able to survive death and severe injury. This is most definitely a Twelfth Doctor for both a new and "Classic" generation, a seasoned actor cast to promote age in all its years...

Expect new friends and old enemies, the regular mix of light and dark, inner conflicts and acts of war. It is no secret that Capaldi’s Doctor will be far darker than previous incarnations, likely far more alien than ever. “She cares so I don’t have to”, the Time Lord says in a teaser courtesy of British magazine television show This Morning, whose presenters interviewed the lovely Coleman on Friday (22nd August). What I admire about the power of DOCTOR WHO is its constant ability to transform, regenerate and bring in new fans - on both sides of the screen, and all around the globe! It is a show that is not limited by its cast, production crew or narrow viewpoint. We have a Universe(s), time travel, and enough imagination and possibilities to fill a whole armada of TARDISes.

Looking back at THE FIRES OF POMPEII (2008 feels like a lifetime already), I do find it fascinating that that particular episode didn’t just hand us a future TARDIS companion (Karen Gillan) but ultimately presented a future Doctor, too: Peter Capaldi played the role of Caecilius in the episode, which featured David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor… As many of you will know, this has only happened once before, when actor Colin Baker was cast as the Sixth Doctor after having appeared in a previous story as a different character (see ARC OF INFINITY, 1983). A little bit of trivia for you: THE FIRES OF POMPEII hasn’t been the Doctor’s only visit to the 79 AD tragedy - in Big Finish audio adventure THE FIRES OF VULCAN, Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy gets to tangle with local politics while separated from companion Mel (played by Bonnie Langford).

Who is the Doctor?

So, back to the present… As we all know, it takes an actor some time to find his feet and make the role his own, and the reaction of fans plays a huge part in this. Every regeneration brings a different take, albeit with some minor similarities. This is the nature of the beast, in order for it to survive. But Capaldi LOOKS good, and will clearly make an excellent addition to the line of Time Lords who have piloted the TARDIS. After reading some comments on other websites concerning his appointment, it is obvious there are doubts, but just who is Peter Capaldi? Who is the Doctor? Just when you think there is an answer to that very question - he goes and changes again, bringing a new aspect to his persona. Adjusting to a new Doctor is not easy, because every one of us has our own DOCTOR, a single embodiment of the show., and how dare anyone else take his place…

The good news is that, Capaldi is a fan of the show, too, and like us wishes nothing other than the best. He has a passion that will see every one of us safely along for the ride, once more championing him against the evil that preys on the weak, unprotected and innocent. In an interview, the actor said, “...what I do know is that I love the show and it is part of my DNA … I know instinctively what Doctor Who is about”. That statement is a love letter to our beautiful show, and proves that the man with a blue box is firmly in safe hands for all generations to enjoy. The Doctor is a cultural hero, explorer and believer in justice, he is an alien whose footsteps have left serious repercussions, with a past so deep and scarred that history has a way of catching up with him - what can you expect from someone who travels through time and space anyway?

Though darker in tone, there will still be laughs, one-liners and great scripts. I will be there on Saturday, like every one of you, watching my favourite character as he tries to come to terms with who, or what, he is. But, in the end, he is the Doctor. So, deep breath, the time is almost upon us...