There are two things you won’t have missed unless you have been living on the moon for the last few months. Firstly, Doctor Who returns on Saturday 23rd August and secondly, there’s a new actor playing the famous time traveller – Peter Capaldi.
At the end of last year’s Christmas episode, departing Doctor Matt Smith’s features changed and in his place stood a different, older Doctor in the shape of Capaldi. He was wild-eyed, scared, confused and didn’t appear to be in control of his Tardis. But give him a break, why don’t you? Imagine waking up after a bad dream, not sure where you are… but with a new face and slightly differently personality. His whole body had just regenerated.
Probably like much of the younger audience watching, Jenna Coleman’s Clara stared at the new Doctor in disbelief and wondered three things: what just happened, where has the Doctor gone, and what now?
There is not another character on television like this – regenerating the lead actor is a tried and tested formula and has led to the legacy that is Doctor Who. Casting the Doctor can’t be easy and since 1963, the choice of lead actor has never failed to surprise audiences. Original Doctor William Hartnell (1963-1966) had previously been known for playing angry, army types. And when relative unknown Matt Smith was cast in 2009, he became the youngest-ever actor to take on the role.
The fact that Capaldi is an older Doctor won’t matter to the younger audience. He’s the ultimate hero and best friend, whatever he looks like.
Children love these adventures in time and space – and they know that their hero isn’t from Earth, but is centuries old with two hearts and comes from a planet called Gallifrey. And so what if his face has changed? It’s all part of the magic. As long as he continues to fight monsters (which he will) and pull off amazing stunts (look out for the horse in the first episode), he’ll win viewers over in an instant.
This new Doctor is about to meet a dinosaur, Daleks, Cybermen and all sorts of horrors. And he’ll continue to save the universe while viewers, young and old, tune in again and again.
Moray Laing is the Editor of BBC Doctor Who Adventures magazine. The latest issue, featuring an exclusive interview with Peter Capaldi, is out from 13–26 August, price £3.99