Peter Capaldi: the new face of Who. Except to anyone who’s been paying attention, of course, that’s not quite true. Capaldi has already popped up as Roman merchant Lucius Caecilius Iucundus in series-four episode The Fires of Pompeii and as Home Office permanent secretary John Frobisher in Torchwood: Children of Earth.
So will those appearances just be swept under the carpet when Capaldi takes up his new post as the Doctor? Not necessarily. Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat says there could be an explanation for the fact that we’ve seen Capaldi’s face before – and it emanates from his predecessor Russell T Davies.
"We are aware that Peter Capaldi’s played a part in Doctor Who before and we’re not going to ignore the fact," Moffat told Nerd3. "I’ll let you in on this. I remember Russell told me he had a big old plan as to why there were two Peter Capaldis in the Who universe, one in Pompeii and one in Torchwood. When I cast Peter, [Russell] got in touch to say how pleased he was, I said 'Okay, what was your theory and does it still work?' and he said 'Yes it does, here it is'. So I don’t know if we’ll get to it… we’ll play that one out over time. It’s actually quite neat".
And while Moffat stopped short of revealing exactly what that neat explanation might be, he did hint that the Doctor might have a hand in choosing his own face, or at least that it's not simply a matter of chance what he ends up looking like following a regeneration.
"The big fun question is, we know that the Doctor when he regenerates, the faces, it’s not set from birth, it’s not that he was always going to be one day Peter Capaldi. We know that’s the case because in [Second Doctor story] The War Games he has a choice of face and all that. We know it’s not set so where does he get those faces from? They can’t just be randomly generated because they’ve got lines and they’ve aged. When he turns into Peter he’ll actually have lines on his face (sorry Peter) so where did that face come from?"