The BBC has officially revealed who will be succeeding Matt Smith as the next Doctor Who: Peter Capaldi, the Scottish actor most famous for his starring turn in the British comedic series The Thick of It.
He will be the 12th person to play the role in the show's 50-year run (minus a 16-year break before its 2005 reboot), and, as with every "regeneration," people have their doubts about the new Doctor.
He will have to convince generations of Doctor Who fans that he can make the transition from his famous role as a foul-mouthed political operative to a time-and-space-traveling alien.
While we won't be able to judge his performance for ourselves until he takes over from Smith in December, obsessive fans have already been debating whether or not executive producer Steven Moffat made the right choice. Here are a few reasons why Whovians are either livid or overjoyed at the announcement.
He's on the old side
At 55, Capaldi is the oldest actor to play the role since William Hartnell, who starred as the very first Doctor in 1963. He is also 25 years older than Smith, the current Doctor. The transition from boyish teen crush to hoary older man has not made every Doctor Who fan happy.
The Daily Mail compiled a list of disappointed comments from fans lamenting the loss of the "cute and funny" Smith for "an old guy." Twitter was filled with similar comments:
I really hope that Peter Capaldi isn't the new Doctor because he's old and gross :( #DoctorWho— Patrick Brady (@ThePatrickk) August 3, 2013
He is another white man
Early speculation had the new Doctor Who being a woman, with names like Emma Watson and Helen Mirren being thrown around. The BBC's recent announcement crushed those hopes.
"It’s an inescapable issue that The Doctor will be, once again, a white guy," writes Tom Phillips in the New Statesman. "It genuinely felt like this time round we might have got a female Doctor or a non-white Doctor, and pretty much everyone who isn’t a member of the permanently furious faction of Who fandom would have been fine with it… And yes, this would indeed have been a huge deal on the 'what do our heroes look like' front."
The Guardian's Jenny Colgan was hoping to break the all-white-male streak with Idris Elba (The Wire, Pacific Rim) or "an utterly alien Tilda Swinton." But, she concedes, "If we are to have a 12th white male…could we have done any better?"
The sentiment was echoed by comedian Kumail Nanjiani:
A female or non-white Doctor would have been amazing. But Peter Capaldi is a great choice. He's gonna rock it.— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) August 4, 2013
He brings some edge
Smith and his predecessor, David Tennant, were beloved for their manic, youthful optimism. Capaldi, however, will bring some gravitas to the role, writes The Guardian's Mark Lawson:
His primary quality as an actor is danger; during his most vicious riffs as the sewer-mouthed Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It, there frequently seemed a threat that his pulsing facial veins might burst. He was also memorably menacing as the new boss in the second series of the TV newsroom drama The Hour… His casting confirms that, like James Bond, the Doctor has become a role serious actors are happy to take on. [The Guardian]
Just how edgy is Capaldi? He used to sing in a punk band in the early '80s with talk show host Craig Ferguson. VICE's Tabatha Leggett, who uncovered some old photos and songs from Capaldi's punk rock days, writes, "It's a brave, inspired choice from producers — changing gears from Matt Smith's animated, boyish Doctor to a part that will surely become more psychological."
Since the 1980s, Capaldi has had quite a productive acting career, winning both a BAFTA and an Oscar, not to mention appearing in big-budget blockbusters like World War Z, in which, coincidentally enough, he played a "WHO doctor."
He's a longtime Doctor Who fan
In 1974, a 15-year-old Capaldi sent an enthusiastic letter praising the show to Radio Times, writing:
May I congratulate you on your excellent Dr Who Special. The articles, photos, and especially the Terry Nation Dalek story with the twist in the tail, were excellent.
Your Special has certainly made the year for Dr Who fans … I hope that in 15 years’ time, in 1988, you will publish another Special to celebrate 25 years of wandering in time with the Doctor. [The Independent]
His nearly 40-year love affair with the material gives him some credibility in the eyes of diehard fans.
"His greatest qualification for the job is that he's also a self-described 'lifelong Doctor Who fan,'" writes Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams. "He gets how important the role is because he loves the series too."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- 7 of the scariest spiders in existence
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- 4 things NASA can teach you about a good night's sleep
- Why isn't 'Arkansas' pronounced like 'Kansas'?
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
- Internet piracy isn't killing Hollywood
- It's time for the police to rethink 'shoot-to-kill'
- Welcome to the age of ambivalent feminism
- Is the Christian music industry liberalizing on gay marriage?
Subscribe to the Week