Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Monday 5 August 2013

Who’s Who

Peter Capaldi
The New Doctor Who

Well, obviously, it’s no surprise to anyone anymore that the twelfth Dr Who is to be played by Peter Capaldi.

Personally, I’m not sorry to see the back of a run of skinny boys playing the Doctor.

Christopher Eccleston
as the Doctor
I liked Christopher Eccleston. I liked that he was grown up, intense, dark. I liked that he knew how to be still. David Tennant was too physical, too urgent, too loud and brash, and when Matt Smith came along he only magnified all of those traits. I thought him utterly unwatchable.

By then, of course, I thought the program unwatchable. It was possible to drive a truck through some of the plot holes and the scads of exposition required to wrap up some of the stories became a joke.

I couldn’t abide Pond-scum and I thought Alex Kington, whom I always liked as an actor, was rather wasted. 

I know that I am not Dr Who’s target audience, and the high energy, lowest common denominator approach taken with the show panders to a mass and potentially global audience, as far as I can tell, and I think it all rather a pity. I grumbled about the show for quite some time, after Eccleston and Billy Piper left, and I refused to watch it, entirely, when the Weeping Angels’ powers proved inconsistent, not obeying their own internal logic.

It’s all a bit trite, and far too easy. The audience is carried away on a wave of urgency and silliness. The stories are fast moving and lack the sort of logic that they once had. The problem is that some of us see those holes, we see where the cracks are papered over and we see where excuses are made and where information is dumped, and we don’t like it. As story tellers, we’re more likely to see the strings, of course, but still... 

Doctor Who used to be cleverer than this.

The production team, and, I suspect, Steven Moffat in particular, has chosen Peter Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor. He’s yet another tall, lean, physical man in the same mold as Ecclestone, Tennant and Smith. He has the same jutting joints and the same elastic face. I wonder if he’ll shout and gurn his way through his tenure as the Doctor in the same way that Tennant and Smith certainly did. I do hope he won’t. 

The single important difference between Capaldi and the two previous Doctors, is, of course, his age. Peter Capaldi, despite the fact that he doesn’t look it, is fifty-five years old, and he’s worked a great deal over more than thirty years, on stage and on screen. He’s worked on Doctor Who and Torchwood, so there’s that connection, too. He’s about as scottish as David Tennant, and, if you watch a clip of him in Skins, he has a sort of spastic physicality that isn’t dissimilar to Matt Smith’s.

I don’t think that Steven Moffat has taken a big leap of faith. I think that his choice is pretty safe. He might, I suppose, have chosen another young man, but in choosing this older one, he hasn’t taken any risks. Peter Capaldi isn’t portly or balding, and he’s both attractive and very familiar to this audience.

I was looking for a reason to come back to the fold. I loved Doctor Who, as a child, and I was hoping that I might love it again, but I guess you can’t make a silk purse out a sow’s ear, and I guess that changing one actor, even the lead, isn’t going to have a great deal of influence over the writing team or the production values.

I know that the husband will continue to tune in to Doctor Who on a regular basis, but he’ll be watching it on his own. Something else will have to change to get me watching the show again, including Zoe Ball mouth-breathing at me on a Sunday night special. Talk about cheap tv!

It was nice to see Bernard Cribbins, of course. I’ll never forget going to the Saturday morning cinema to see him in Invasion Earth 2150. In fact, since Peter Cushing played the Doctor in that movie, doesn’t that make Peter Capaldi the 13th Doctor? I do hope that won’t prove unlucky for him.


  1. To quote a meme that is actually pretty accurate, imo:

    Eccleston was the Tiger.
    Tennant was the Tigger.
    Smith was the uncoordinated house cat, who trips over a sofa and acts like he meant to do it.

    Mind you, I liked all three.

    I wonder how Capaldi will do. Somehow I see him more as a cooler, more calculated and maybe more settled Doctor.

  2. Wait, wait, wait, hold on...are you telling me that there have been OTHER Doctor Whosits than just Peter Cushing?