At 55 years and counting, Peter Capaldi will be older than even the professorial William Hartnell when he makes his first appearance as the Doctor this Christmas.
Following the youngest ever Doctor, Matt Smith, and the similarly youthful David Tennant, Capaldi could be a shock to the system for the current generation of Doctor Who fans, say some commentators.
But showrunner Steven Moffat disagrees, pointing out that not only do children grow up relating perfectly well to certain other older fictional characters, but also that all adults seem “ancient” by kids’ standards anyway…
“There’s a lot of talk about ‘kids will not understand an older Doctor’,” said Moffat. “Let’s just get a couple of nonsenses out of the way. One: how many young Santa Clauses have you seen?
“And two: do you think to an eight-year-old that Matt Smith looks young? I was a school teacher at the age of 24, which is even younger than the lovely Mr Smith, and they all thought I was ancient.”
Moffat was keen to point out that Capaldi, Smith and their predecessors are all playing essentially the same person, regardless of their years – and that, if anything, Smith plays up the Time Lord’s age more than some other incarnations.
“I think the Doctor’s apparent age is a total red herring,” Moffat told RadioTimes.com. “He can be anything from 70 to 20-odd – his behaviour does not alter.
“Matt Smith by no means strikes me as the youngest Doctor based on his performance – he’s emphasised the boffiny, slightly old-fashioned quality of the man.
“It doesn’t make any difference to the Doctor how he looks. Being well over a thousand years old, they all look quite young to him as faces – it doesn’t mean anything.
“Peter is not here to play an older Doctor, he’s here to play the Doctor. I’ve seen his first scene and he’s not playing an old Doctor he’s just got an older face.”
Capaldi is due to make his debut as the Time Lord in the Christmas special, following Matt Smith’s regeneration.