Peter Capaldi: I stopped swearing two years ago

The Doctor Who star on leaving Malcolm Tucker behind, meeting a Dalek in a hardware store and the joy of being The Doctor

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When Peter Capaldi was unveiled as the new Doctor last summer, much was made of the fact that the man who had recently played the famously foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It would now be fronting a children’s show.

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Capaldi admits that members of the public did at one time approach him on the street asking to be verbally abused, but he says he stopped cursing even before he took on the role of the Time Lord.

“Fans of the show would come up to me and say, ‘swear at me, please, please swear at me,’” he says. “So I would have to stand in the street and abuse them with the worst possible language.

“I am squeaky clean [now]… I can of course swear on my own time obviously, but I haven’t sworn for about two years now!”

These days, his interactions with the public are generally very different and Capaldi says he’s enjoying the “privilege” of being the Doctor.

“It’s an amazing, wonderful gift and a privilege,” he says on this week’s Graham Norton show. “I love being Doctor Who. I wake up in the morning and I’m Doctor Who, and when I go out to the shops and buy a pint of milk, I’m Doctor Who, everywhere I go I am The Doctor and everyone smiles at me – they are pleased to see Doctor Who, who’s far more exciting than I am!”

One such encounter happened just after Capaldi was revealed as the Doctor.

“The day after I was announced as The Doctor, I went to buy a light bulb in an old hardware store – like the one in the [Two Ronnies] ‘Four Candles’ sketch – and a bloke came out from behind the counter with a sink plunger stuck to his head!”

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Peter Capaldi will join Denzel Washington and Gemma Arterton on the sofa as a new series of The Graham Norton show kicks off at 10:35pm on Friday 26 September