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There's not a lot of space in the Tardis!

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2014-08-17 Sunday Express p46-47.jpg


As the new series of Doctor Who launches with a world tour, Peter Capaldi tells Julia Kuttner what it is really like to be a Time Lord

IT HAS been a year since the BBC unveiled Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor Who, the 12th since the sci-fi show began broadcasting more than 50 (Earth) years ago. The brand has become one of the most successful global dramas made in the UK and this month the cast, plus a flat-packed Tardis, have been on a world tour, with stops from Cardiff to London, Seoul to Rio via Sydney and New York to launch the new series which will arrive on our TV screens and in cinemas on Saturday.

Since the new Time Lord was announced live on a TV special Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, the Doctor's companion Clara Oswald, have been preparing to land on a screen near you.

At 56, Glasgow-born Capaldi is the joint oldest actor to play the role, an honour he shares with the original Doctor and his childhood hero William Hartnell.

The first of the new series, an episode called Deep Breath, will have a gala launch to include interviews with the stars from the London premiere. A week later, the Daleks will return. Expect the sinister enemies of old to be joined by a terrifying new monster called Teller.

The show has been rebooted from the credits up, with an updated theme tune and graphics featuring the eyes of the new Doctor, best known as spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It and spin-off film In The Loop.

The series covers new ground with the show's first lesbian kiss and a host of star names including Michelle Gomez (Green Wing, Bad Education) playing the Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere who makes claim to a romance with the Doctor. Keeley Hawes, Hermione Norris, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Frank Skinner also have roles.

There is also every chance the Doctor will have an additional companion for some of this series with Samuel Anderson (Gavin & Stacey, Emmerdale) playing Danny Pink ,a teacher from Clara's school.

Critics are already describing Peter Capaldi as the ultimate Doctor and much has been made of him giving the Doctor his Scottish accent: "For a lot of actors they don't become the part, the part becomes them, so you pull it more closely to yourself. So in a way I think the Doctor is closer to me than how Malcolm Tucker was," he said at the start of the world tour, from Cardiff to London.

Jenna was looking forward to the new series and a flirt-free relationship with her travelling companion: "Peter brought a generosity and grace from day one and I have been really excited about all of the screenings because people can see a new Doctor being born and watch that growth. He has been really fearless," she said.

He was afraid of the crushed velvet, swishy sashes and scarves the wardrobe department tried on him, though. Executive producer and writer Steven Moffat auditioned only Peter for the part, and revealed the actor could not hide his feelings about his get-up in the photo shoots.

"You could tell what he didn't like," said Steven. "Peter does a great sulky face and suddenly you get a photograph of him doing an action and I thought: 'You like that one, Peter. It's going to be that coat'."

The new Doctor admitted: "I tried on velvet jackets, scarves and floppy hats but I wanted to be sharper and dark and wear something people could emulate." Peter's modesty highlights his abundant charm. Asked if he would like to go behind the scenes, writing and directing, he said he has tried both: "I have a great deal of respect for all the people we have doing it on the show, I've had a go at it but I am happier acting."

What he omits to mention is that his "having a go" earned him an Oscar for writing and directing the short film Franz Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life in 1995. He also directed the award-winning TV black comedy Getting On.

Peter claimed he has longed to play the Doctor since he was a child, and wrote to the Radio Times as a teenager hoping to win the role.

The new Doctor is armed with Peter's fierce wit, a sharp suit and sonic screwdriver, and more moderate language than foul-mouthed spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker.

At both UK launches, held on the same day in Cardiff and London, Peter's contagious exuberance matched that of the thousands of fans who queued to see him, including a honeymooning couple who had flown from their home in California to Cardiff meet their Gallifreyan hero.

If there is a chink in the armour of the silver-haired star it is a very human one: his initial fears that the production team and cast might not take to him stepping into the last Doctor Matt Smith's shoes.

"I think people were hopeful that I was not going to be a nightmare and ask for cups of coffee all the time and shout at them," he said.

"I was stepping into Matt's shoes, which I was wearing, and his trousers, which I was wearing as well. I managed to squeeze into them but it was frightening because you also think everyone just adores Matt so much they will only put up with the novelty of this for a week or so and then they will get fed up. I found the atmosphere a little tense," admitted Peter, although his fears were unfounded and there was "an incredible sense of welcome, warmth and support" on the first day.

"Now I feel like I am this terrible gushing sort of chap who comes and says love the whole thing'. When he says: 'I am the Doctor', I waited a long time to say it.

"If I was to meet my eight-year-old Doctor Who fan self I would say: "Don't listen to what they say about you. Wear your anorak with pride!"

Peter had only one suggestion to make shooting more comfortable. "There's not much room inside the TARDIS, it's not the lovely Tardis you see on the telly, it is just like a cupboard your dad's made, and a fan's Tardis. There is not much room. There's me, Jenna and the prop guy with the smoke gun, who is a bit embarrassed. I think in the future I am going to get a kettle in there."

And on shooting the scariest scenes he confesses: "I only know how hard it is to pretend that a monster is terrifying when it's not really there." Peter filmed a battle with "wolves" for one episode where he had to play up to "some tennis balls on sticks".

"It's not the first time I have done green screen acting but I was cut from the blockbuster Maleficent," he laughs.

It appears the universe is his for the asking but off-screen his wardrobe is very much the domain of his wife Elaine. After the London launch Peter chatted to fans, posed for photographs and signed autographs but he admitted he didn't know where his space design shirt was from. "You'll have to ask my wife," he smiled.

He may be 2,000 years old but he is still only human.

Caption: DOC DOWN UNDER: Peter Capaldi poses with the Tardis in Sydney, as part of the cult show's world tour

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  • APA 6th ed.: Kuttner, Julia (2014-08-17). There's not a lot of space in the Tardis!. Sunday Express p. 46.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Kuttner, Julia. "There's not a lot of space in the Tardis!." Sunday Express [add city] 2014-08-17, 46. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Kuttner, Julia. "There's not a lot of space in the Tardis!." Sunday Express, edition, sec., 2014-08-17
  • Turabian: Kuttner, Julia. "There's not a lot of space in the Tardis!." Sunday Express, 2014-08-17, section, 46 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=There's not a lot of space in the Tardis! | url=! | work=Sunday Express | pages=46 | date=2014-08-17 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 June 2024 }}</ref>
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