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The spin Doctor

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2014-08-08 Daily Mirror.jpg


Who you calling old? New Time Lord Capaldi hits back

People can look forward to a Doctor more alien than we've seen before PETER CAPALDI ON HOW HE'S PLAYING THE ROLE

New Doctor Who Peter Capaldi is taking a bit of Malcolm Tucker with him into the Tardis. Not the epic swearing of course... more the attitude, the wisecracks and the energy. TEAM TARDIS Peter and Jenna Louise Coleman yesterday CLARA CRAZY Jenna meets young fans CYBER ATTACK The cast meet classic villains SUNNY START Peter and Jenna arrive for premiere

Peter admits his version of the Time Lord will share "a certain acid wit" with the foul-mouthed spin-doctor he played in cult political comedy The Thick of It.

Unveiling the BBC1 show's latest reboot at a premiere in Cardiff yesterday, he said: "Clearly, there's no bad language, but he can be edgy, volatile and dangerous. I think Malcolm would be incredibly envious that his alter ego – me – had got this gig and no longer had to spend all his time dealing with idiotic MPs."

The first episode of the new series has moments of pure Tucker in both writing and the delivery. At one point The Doctor snaps at a half-human, half-droid: "That wasn't a rhetorical question... join in any time you like."

Peter says he will also be channelling all the previous Doctors he grew up watching.

"I was brought up on Doctor Who. They are all in me," he said. "They taught me how to act because I spent all my time trying to be them."

Speaking to fans for the first time since landing the role, he defends his right to play the Doctor at the age of 56, following on from Matt Smith, 31, as the youngest-ever Time Lord.

He sniffed: "I think too much is made of my age. Who cares? Doctor Who is over 2,000 years old."

But he concedes he is both frightened and apprehensive as he waits to see how he will be received by the show's enormous global army of fans.

"If there are a lot of people who don't like me there will also be some people who really like me," he said.

"That's the nature of the show. People will take sides. They can look forward to a Doctor who is difficult to keep up with, and who is more alien than perhaps we've seen for a while."

In the first episode The Doctor's new appearance comes as a huge shock to companion Clara, played by Jenna Louise Coleman. In place of the fresh-faced Smith is a man with lines on his face and grey hair.

But Peter, who grew up in Glasgow, says playing the Time Lord has made him feel like a child again.

"I've just been filming a sequence in which I have to be suspended on wires, 20 feet in the air for a whole day, and people kept saying, 'Are you OK?'

"But it was fantastic! It was like being nine years old. Where else is a man of my age going to be attached to wires and flung around a room?

But he does confess that he is too old to perform some stunts and scenes

without a stand-in. "Obviously when you've been around the block a little bit like I have, you can actually say, 'I'm not running over that thing over there, that looks too dangerous.' "

His very first word in the series is "Sshhh" after he is spat into the River Thames in Victorian times. And as the Tardis door opens, he declares: "I was being chased by a giant dinosaur but I think I've given it the slip."

A lifelong fan of the show, Peter says he always hoped to land a role as a guest star but never thought he'd end up in the title role, played since the 2005 relaunch by Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant before Matt Smith. "I was always interested but I never thought they'd come to me," he said. "I loved Chris, David and Matt. All of them I think have been fabulous.

He adds: "Doctor Who was part of my upbringing in the Sixties, with The Beatles and Sunday Night At The London Palladium and school milk and bronchitis. It's part of me. I had a huge collection of books and autographs and pictures, but when you reach the age of 17 or 18, you move on and discover sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll. I'm ashamed to say I had a kind of bonfire of the vanities.

"I was quite a major geek. I had a huge collection of wonderful stuff but I threw it all away to go and drink lager and eat curries. That was silly, wasn't it?"

Peter went on to form a punk band before getting his acting break aged 21.

In the run-up to filming he spent many hours pondering one big question... what should he wear.

"Everyone wanted me in a floppy hat," he said. "I wanted something stark, something people could emulate without going to any great expense. One day you try on a pile of stuff that makes you feel like the Doctor."

The role has helped make him fitter too. "Everybody counselled me about how physical the role is, but that's great. It's exercise... you don't have to go to the gym. You just come and play Doctor Who and run up and down corridors being chased by monsters."

Peter says he and Jenna quickly formed a close bond on set.

"She has been absolutely brilliant," he said. "I think she's wonderful in the show, and she's my favourite companion. She's been so welcoming to me and so warm."

In the first episode the Doctor mocks Clara over her relationship with his predecessor, calling him her "boyfriend".

But Peter says there is still very much a love theme going on, despite his reported instructions to the scriptwriters that there must be "no flirting".

"There's a deeper well of love in it," he explained. "The Doctor is crazy about Clara. It's not just about romance – it goes into deeper territory."

Peter is clearly desperate to be liked by the audience as he waits for his first episodes to be shown.

"It is frightening," he said. "You've been given this very precious thing and it's your responsibility to try and keep him aflame until the next person comes along. You're looking after the character and it looks after you too."

It's just over two weeks until the August 23 launch and all the indications from the Cardiff audience suggest he has absolutely nothing to worry about.

Success or failure, he's sure the reaction won't push him over the edge. "I don't think I'm going to go mental," he says. "I had my going mental years and I kept them under wraps. I like getting on with the work, and it's extremely challenging. At the moment we're on the eighth consecutive week of filming.

"You go in and you have to find new ways of making it all work and sparkle and twinkle and I enjoy that.

"But it's not like I'm sitting wishing I could buy a Ferrari, or get into this or that club. My life is fairly in place and I'm not going to go off the rails. It would be unbecoming for a man of my age."

Dr Who starts on BBC1 on Saturday, August 23.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Methven, Nicola (2014-08-08). The spin Doctor. The Mirror p. 16.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Methven, Nicola. "The spin Doctor." The Mirror [add city] 2014-08-08, 16. Print.
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