Last weekend, the BBC confirmed just who would be playing the brand new Doctor, the twelfth incarnation. You’ve no doubt heard by now that it is Peter Capaldi who is going to be on the other end of Matt Smith’s regeneration, and the reaction I’ve seen so far has been overwhelmingly positive.
It’s a stark contrast to when Smith was presented as the Eleventh Doctor. A startlingly young, unknown actor, which immediately created something of a backlash amongst certain Who fans. This time, the casting is older, established and a very interesting choice.
I have mixed feelings about Capaldi stepping into the TARDIS. I think he’ll be really good, I loved his performance in The Hour and also remember him fondly as Sid’s dad from Skins. I don’t know of Malcolm Tucker because any clips I’ve ever seen from The Thick of It terrify me.
That is part of my concern. The serious roles I’ve seen Capaldi do are more schoolteacher-ish than anything, and the comedy roles are about as adult as it gets. Are either of those going to be enticing and/or suitable for kids? I know the early Doctors were older and more serious, but this new generation has been either too-cool-for-school in black leather jackets, or becoming increasingly wacky. Some of the newer fans might not be ready for the culture shock of your headmaster suddenly playing your favourite alien.
It’s a slight concern that kids or… well, anyone might find clips of Tucker’s outbursts online, in the hopes of seeing Peter Capaldi in action. That’s not to say actors who sign up to Doctor Who can’t have done anything beforehand – even David Tennant played the rather risqué Casanova before he started waltzing around the time vortex. The peril of selecting an established and older name is that they’re going to have a rich history of work, not all of it appropriate for your new audience.
I also have a distinctly uncomfortable feeling about Clara’s continued role as companion, travelling with a man at least twice her age. It’s all innocent and it’s all fine, but it just feels like it’s treading a fine line and making an unnecessary complication for the writers. I did see someone hoping and praying that this would mean less of the twenty-something companions and more variety. At first I was annoyed reading that, as it totally missed out Donna. But Donna is the exception to the rule, and as the Doctor-Donna has been my favourite partnership so far, any return to that dynamic is good in my book.
Ultimately, I have just a smidgeon of foreboding about the casting. The kind of small knot in your stomach where you can see why everyone else is excited and you don’t want to bring them down, but you’re just not quite there yet.
I am pretty much ALWAYS proved wrong in these things, which is the dream, because it means Doctor Who post-Smith will be just as good or even better.