2 years since Peter Capaldi joined ‘Doctor Who’: Our original reaction to the news

Peter Capaldi was unveiled as Matt Smith’s replacement on Doctor Who exactly two years ago today.

Here’s how the CultBox team reacted to the announcement just after it was revealed…


Malcolm Stewart: “It was the casting announcement I didn’t dare hope would happen. Capaldi is an astonishing actor – just like the Doctor, full of fire and humour and rage.

“He has the potential to be as scary as Hartnell and as creepy-bonkers as Tom Baker – and is the same age Hartnell was when he began. If you felt that after eight years of new-Who the show needed a thrilling change of direction or, less politely, a kick up the proverbial, this is it.

“Capaldi seems so blindingly, brilliantly perfect for the role, you wonder why, up until a week ago, no one was mentioning his name. As the late John Nathan-Turner would have said – in the days when the casting of a new Doctor got half a column inch on page seven – I am surprised and delighted. Utterlyfuckety brilliant!”


Rob Smedley: “Did you see that? He did a Hartnell impression the minute he stepped on stage. We’re in good hands.

“As blogs everywhere will beat over your head, Peter Capaldi’s best known as The Thick of It‘s Malcolm Tucker, a man who uses his vocal chords to such sharp and filthy effect that he literally gives the air tetanus when he opens his gob. Peptic spin-doctor to The Doctor.

“No doubt mash-up GIFs are already rolling off hard-drives. It’s a heck of a leap – a delightfully shocking change from Matt Smith – but that’s what regeneration is, always has been. Change. Shock. Run. The show goes on.

“And with yet another great lead. I can’t think of a better man to start Who off on its next 50 years than Capaldi. He’s a fan, he’s a consummate professional, and he’s already part of the Who/Torchwood continuum so he clearly understands the pedigree and prestige of the show.

“He’s a Doctor that tweenage fangirls will find it hard to swoon over, bringing a composure and a humour that’ll be entirely different to Smith’s or Tennant’s pin-up cheekiness, and yet which will be entirely appropriate to a 1,000 year old man. It’s nice to have the older Doctor back after nearly a decade of GQ-able Gallifreyans. Are we about to get a 21st century Hartnell-like? That would be no bad thing.”


Ian McArdell: “There is primarily a sense of relief. Peter Capaldi is a fine choice, a seasoned actor who has shown great versatility in his career.

“The suggestion of a shortlist of one indicates a firm direction for this new Doctor, which I hope will include a tougher outlook and less of the physical comedy that Matt Smith brought to the table. Given his age, this will be a real test for new series fans, used to the youthful charms of Smith and Tennant.

“Of course, the press will focus on the gloriously foul-mouthed tirades of Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It – but at least that will keep them busy for a while.

“The hoopla surrounding the live reveal was hilarious, clearly dictating that the choice was both a ‘name’ and male beforehand, but the real question is whether we have been tricked? Surely, the end of the Anniversary Special is the perfect time for the first glimpse of Twelve, either in surprise regeneration or a teasing cameo. Roll on November 23rd!”


Sarah Deen: “The prospect of Peter Capaldi taking over the TARDIS is an exciting one. Everything brilliant about the 12th Doctor will purely be down to Capaldi’s talent and not the writing; which I feel has got a bit same-y since Steven Moffat took over.

“I’m expecting a world-weary, darker edge to the last of the Time Lords this time, with glimmers of poetry, eccentricity and humour effortlessly woven in. In short, he’ll smash it. Is it 2014 yet?”

“A TV show doesn’t last for 50 years by being safe and predictable. Changes need to occur to keep it fresh, to keep the viewing public interested. And yet, in the build up to the 12th Doctor’s announcement, I seemed to have forgotten this.”


Peter Capaldi


Chris Boyle: “‘It’ll be a relatively unknown actor between the ages of 30 and 40’, I confidently told friends. Bestowing upon them my vastly superior casting knowledge. I was playing it safe. I was being predictable. And I’ve never been so pleased to be so wrong.

“It’s Peter Capaldi. Peter bloody Capaldi. Peter Capaldi is the 12th Doctor. Lifelong Who fan. BAFTA-winning actor. Oscar winning writer and director. An actor with the pedigree that the fans demand and the show deserves.

“I find myself in the same old paradox again. Sad that Matt’s leaving, not wanting the 11th’s time to end and yet desperately excited to see the back of him so that the new guy can start.”


Andrew Curnow: “With Capaldi’s name bandied about in the press this past week, I kinda sorta hoped it would turn out NOT to be him because, I guess, I wanted to be really surprised…

“…until he was suddenly announced, and there he was, and I found myself actually, genuinely applauding in my sitting room. Because like all those times before when I never expected him, suddenly at that moment this guy is the perfect piece of casting – and the joy is that I’ve never ever seen it coming.

“Davison, McCoy, McGann were all such genuine surprises but not one of them was revealed without me feeling that instantly all the pieces fitted together – even in 2009 with Matt Smith it felt absolutely right.

“And it feels right again now, it’s time for a ‘name’, it’s time for somebody older, it’s time for Peter Capaldi. Good call, BBC; bloody good call!”


David Lewis: “In Doctor Who, a change isn’t always as good as a rest. In 1984, the show’s youthful star was replaced by an older actor who’d already appeared in the show in a different role – and things went rapidly awry.

“The incoming Colin Baker was handed a patchwork coat straight out of a psychedelic tramp’s vomitorium and scripts asking him to play the Doctor as a grumpy old git – a million miles from predecessor Peter Davison’s popular characterisation. The show was on indefinite hiatus within twelve months.

“However, thirty years on, history is unlikely to repeat itself. Casting Peter Capaldi as the twelfth incarnation of the Doctor is a bold but brilliant stroke by showrunner Steven Moffat.

“Not only is the 55-year-old a charismatic personality, a talented, thoughtful actor with a CV strong enough to beat a space whale to death – and a massive fan of Doctor Who to boot – he also has experience of interstitial travel on TV: not just as Caecilius in ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ but in the ‘Drunk in Time’ section of The All-New Alexei Sayle Show.”


Andrew Blair: “Great actor. Although the focus is on his role as Malcolm Tucker, I’ve seen him excel in varied roles, so it’s a different sort of blank slate to an unknown.

“It’s very exciting. I’d be interested to know what the reaction was like with younger viewers who might not be as familiar with him as us, the technically-adult types who watch Doctor Who…”


What was your original reaction to the casting news in 2013? Let us know below…

  • margarethe

    Well, everyone’s high expectations have certainly been met in spades (and then some!).
    Peter Capaldi’s eyebrows had us all hooked from the Day of the Doctor and then from the last minute of Time of the Doctor it has been a complete bloomin’ pleasure. He has simply not put a foot wrong and has shown us that a fine actor doesn’t need any silly catchphrases, pinup youthful looks or shouting and running about to be the Doctor.
    There are just so many great moments from last series and best of all, it has shown the more recent audience that the Doctor isn’t your ‘boyfriend’, he’s an ancient alien travelling in space and time who sometimes really doesn’t like humans. The slow subtle unfurling of Peter’s Doctor’s character has been a masterclass in acting. I *love* that Peter’s doctor has been taken into the nation’s heart and certainly around our home, the family have just adored him as much as they adored Smith before him.
    The huge ratings around the world have underlined just how successful this new Doctor and Steven Moffat’s second revamp of the show have been. I am certain that this year will rate even higher than last year’s very impressive final figures and with BARB finally acknowledging online real time viewings for the first time, the nonsense about falling ratings for the show can finally be put to bed. If anything, the show has increased in viewers here in the UK (it’s just that with alternative technology slightly fewer people are watching the traditional way which is more than being made up for by other means of viewing). What can’t be gainsaid is that the show’s viewership worldwide has never been higher and continues to grow massively in the US but also Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Hats off again to Peter who has done marvellous work travelling around the world promoting the show with such passion and articulateness. (It’s so funny to think that people were concerned that he’d be tired out by the filming when he has already got more global Who-miles under his belt than his three most recent predecessors all added up). I would also note his fabulous interactions with fans with so many of these recorded and no doubt many many more which are treasured personal memories. Peter, like Matt before him, just seems to understand the hearts and minds of children in particular.
    Kudos of course to the wonderful Jenna Coleman whose acting last year was toe to toe with Peter’s and also to Steven Moffat who delivered some of his best scripts in years with Listen and Dark Water absolute all time classics. Oh and of course also big thanks to whoever cast Michelle Gomez. The chemistry between her and Peter is off the scale and I am hoping we see more scenes of them together this year.
    I guess everyone knew that Peter would be perfect for the role but the pleasant surprise is exactly how very very good he has been and also that we’ve had a sort of mini-renaissance for the entire show built around his brilliance. Last year is now right up with series 5 as the very best we’ve had since 2005. This year looks amazing and I think we’ll see Peter cemented at the very top as one of the greatest incarnations of The Doctor of all time. With Peter firmly in place and keen to continue for a few more years, I don’t think it’s out of place to refer to us now being a true Golden Age of Who.

  • Carrie Louise Talbot-Ashby

    Can’t stand him lol. Complete opposite to a lot of folk I admit, but I have been a ‘Who’ fan all my life, my mum and dad were massive fans, and I have grown up watching all of them, and in my opinion, Capaldi bought zero to the role. Don’t mind if everyone else disagrees, this is my opinion. I loved Matts Smiths Doctor, I adored Tennants Doctor, I wanted to slap Chris Ecclestones Doctor, and my favourite was always Tom Baker, but to go from someone as enigmatic and magical as Matt Smith to Capaldi, who to me, always seemed like a lost old man!
    And as for some of the episodes, don’t get me started! I wanted to give up after the Robin hood one, oh my god, that was the most tedious ridiculous crud I have ever had the misfortune to watch. I wanted so much to like Capaldi, I wanted the episodes to blow me away and leave me wanting more like Smith & Tennant did, but no…instead, half the time I was left cringing while he looked like someones confused grandad who’d lost his slippers….Sorry, I’ll be hated I know lol, but this is how I perceived it! 🙂

    • Ravyn Rae

      I completely agree with you.

  • Doctor Moo

    I think Peter might just be the best Doctor we ever had: acted to perfection, exceptionally good writing, gimmick-free costume… He’s got the full package. Peter consistently comes across as one of those people who can do no wrong. While Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor remains “My Doctor” Peter Capaldi’s 12th is coming seriously close and if the show continues to be as good as it is now he might just overtake.

    Long may he be the Doctor! May his reign outlast Tom Baker!

    • Margarethe

      Nicely said. Capaldi has been almost perfect of course but what has impressed me is the high quality in every other area, particularly the writing which last year was as good as anything we have had. I also think the acting, music, direction and cinematography is the best ever. I really do hope he stays for at least three or four years as he just has so much more to give. If the writing in particular is as good as last year, I think this year coukd even top series 8.