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The Tardis Has A New Doctor At The Helm

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As TV roles go, taking on Doctor Who comes with a certain degree of expectation. But, as 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi tells YL, it's a job he's been training for since childhood

The Tardis Has A New Doctor At The Helm

As someone who spent his childhood glued to the Time Lord's adventures, becoming the new Doctor was a bit of a scoop for Peter Capaldi. In fact, in some ways he felt over-qualified.

"I had to be very patient on set, because there were always very nice prop guys telling me how to work the Tardis, and I was like, I know how to work the Tardis. I've known for a very long time how to work the Tamils' . Probably longer than you, so you don't need to tell me'," he jokes.

Today, we meet in an underwhelming and stickily-hot meeting room in the production offices of the Cardiff studio, where the much-adored programme is filmed. Just a minute's walk away stands the very Tardis the Glaswegian actor is chatting about.

"I'm constantly amazed that it's me," says Capaldi, 56, who lives with his wife, actress and producer Elaine Collins, and their teenage daughter, Cecily

"I wake up in the morning and I go, 'I'm Doctor Who! I'm playing Doctor Who, I'm Doctor Who'. It's a huge privilege and hugely exciting, and it's funny, because I've known the show since I was a kid."

Although he hasn't consistently watched the series as an adult, it has always been part of his life.

"I grew up in the Sixties, so I grew up with Doctor Who and The Beatles and Sunday Night At The London Palladium, school milk and bronchitis and smog and all this stuff, so it's part of my DNA.

"So although one goes away, the prodigal son returns."

While this prodigal son is obliging and polite, there are still moments when ruminating over the right word, his eyes locked on yours, you momentarily expect Capaldi to launch into a foul-mouthed (and fiercely funny) tirade, as per his The Thick Of It character Malcolm Tucker.

He's often stopped by fans of the satirical comedy, who ask him to swear at them. That probably won't happen with Doctor Who, but Capaldi, who studied art and was lead singer in a punk-rock band during his younger years, is aware that this role will likely escalate his global appeal.

Viewers will have to wait until the new series kicks off tonight, to find out what the new Doctor is like, but Capaldi will reveal that he is a "slightly more mysterious figure", who "struggles to find himself'.

What we do know is that he will arrive in Victorian London, to find dinosaurs in the Thames and a spate of deadly spontaneous combustions.

Previous Doctor, Matt Smith, made his departure in last year's 50th anniversary special, where Capaldi made his first appearance. But his companion Clara, played by Jenna Coleman, remains, and the first episode of the new series sees the two finding their way with their friendship amid an alien conspiracy.

Whether his performance and the storylines are enough to win over the show's throng of fans is something Capaldi is feeling philosophical about.

"You do your best," reasons the actor, who also played Cardinal Richelieu in BBC1's family action series The Musketeers earlier this year. "I don't know whether everyone else will like it or not It goes out to the world, so we'll see what happens."

Mindful that taking on such a popular character will mean aggrieving some fans - somewhere in the Whoni-verse - Capaldi has a clever way of putting things in perspective.

"I think the nice thing about Doctor Who is whether people like it or don't like it, somewhere, someone loves you and will always love you - and the more everyone hates you, the more they'll love you," he says with a wry smile.

"'He was my Doctor Who', they'll say."

The new Doctor Who series airs on BBC1 tonight - see pages 34-35.


1 The 50th anniversary special, The Day Of The Doctor, set the record as the world's largest simulcast of a TV drama, when it was shown in 94 countries at the same time.

2 Doctor Who is the longest running sci-fi series, according to the Guinness World Records. It first aired in 1963.

3 The waitress outfit Kylie Minogue wore in the 2007 Christmas special fetched £3,120 at auction.

4 Tom Baker, who took up the role of the Doctor in 1974, holds the record for most episodes. He starred in 173.

5 There are a lot of passionate Doctor Who fans out there. Doncaster's Rob Hull owns the world's largest Dalek collection which, as of 2011, stood at over 571 models strong.

Caption: Peter Capaldi with his BAFTA award for Male Performance in a Comedy Programme, received for The Thick of It

Caption: The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) with his companion Clara (Jenna Coleman)

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