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The new doctor is in

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2013-08-06 National Post.jpg


Glasgow-born actor and Oscar winner Peter Capaldi has been unveiled as the 12th incarnation of Doctor Who, the BBC announced Sunday.

Capaldi, who won plaudits for his role as Malcolm Tucker in the BBC comedy The Thick of It, was the favourite to replace Matt Smith as the 12th incarnation of the Time Lord after Smith steps down at the end of the year.

He described himself as "a lifelong Doctor Who fan" who had begun practising for the role as a nine-yearold in the school playground. "Being asked to play the doctor is an amazing privilege," Capaldi said. "Like the doctor himself I find myself in a state of utter terror and delight. I can't wait to get started."

As the new doctor Who was announced live on the BBC on Sunday evening, viewers were shown a letter written by Capaldi, then aged 15, to Radio Times magazine in 1988 in which he praised program makers for their "excellent" Doctor Who special episode.

He urged the show's producers to make another "Special" in 15 years time to celebrate 25 years of "wandering in time with the doctor." The letter said: "May I congratulate you on your excellent Doctor Who Special. The dalek construction plans will no doubt inspired [sic] many a school to build their own daleks. Who knows, the country could be invaded by an army of school daleks!" Former doctor Who Matt Smith described Capaldi's casting as "a canny choice" and wished him the best of luck for the show.

Sources close to the show said only 10 people knew the name of the new doctor before it was unveiled in a one-off live show, presented by Zoe Ball.

Capaldi said it was a relief that the secret of his casting was finally out, joking that his daughter was getting "rather upset" at the idea it might not be him.

He also revealed that he had practised a great deal since he was told he had the part.

"It was quite hard because even though I'm a lifelong Doctor Who fan, I haven't played him since I was nine in the playground," he said. "So as an adult, I downloaded some old scripts and practised those in front of the mirror.

"I think Malcolm has been banished from the mirror by this doctor Who, who certainly would not put up with any of Malcolm's language or attitude.

"I think Doctor Who is an extraordinary show."

The decision was welcomed by Smith, who pre-recorded a message to Capaldi, saying: "I just want to wish my successor all the best and just say good luck and good on you for getting it, because I know he is both a huge fan of the show and a really nice guy.

"The casting of it made me really excited genuinely, and as a fan I think it's a really canny choice, so good luck mate, it's going to be a thrill.

"If I had to pick someone, I'd pick him, because I think he's great," Smith added. "And weirdly enough, after the 11th hour, he came up to me in the street and said, 'Ah mate, well done. I watched your episode last night, it was brilliant, I think you're really good.' And I really needed that, I needed a sort of boost and I never forgot it.

"I'm excited because I know what's coming and he's going to have a blast."

"It's an incendiary combination: one of the most talented actors of his generation is about to play the best part on television," Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer of the program, said. "Peter Capaldi is in the TARDIS!"

The decision was also welcomed by Doctor Who companion Jenna Coleman. "I'm so excited Peter Capaldi is the man taking on the challenge of becoming the 12th doctor," she said. "With Steven's writing and his talent I know we'll be making an amazing show with an incredible incarnation of No. 12. I can't wait to start this new adventure!"

Capaldi won an Academy Award in 1994 for the best short film (live action) for Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life, but the 55-year-old actor really became a household name thanks to his performance as foulmouthed spin-doctor Tucker.

He has also written several shows including a documentary about 500 years history of Scottish portrait painting and Cricklewood greats - a spoof about the heyday of the British film industry.

Capaldi has appeared in Doctor Who before - playing Caecilius in the episode "The Fires of Pompeii" in 2008.

He will film his first scenes for Doctor Who this fall, but will appear in forthcoming films The Fifth Estate and Disney's Maleficent.

He is also currently filming new BBC One drama series The Musketeers, in which he plays Cardinal Richelieu which will launch in early 2014.

GRAPHIC: Dominic Lipinski, The Associated Press; "I'm a lifelong Doctor Who fan, I haven't played him since I was nine in the playground," Peter Capaldi says of getting the opportunity to play his childhood idol.

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