Doctor Who stars and fans give their verdicts on Peter Capaldi’s casting

Former companions Katy Manning and Frazer Hines - plus superfans and the man who cast William Hartnell - give Patrick Mulkern their first reactions to the unveiling

Wow! I am delighted – massively impressed – with the choice of Peter Capaldi as the next Doctor.


How do they keep choosing such excellent actors to play the Time Lord? When Capaldi’s name entered the frame last week, my jaw slackened and my eyes bulged. I hadn’t even considered him but instantly knew he’d be ideal.

Everybody I spoke to, every tweet or forum post that I read was in accord. Brilliant idea! And people were starting to admit they’d be gutted if the 12th Doctor turned out to be anyone else.

Capaldi brings terrific clout and talent to this part, and it’s admirable that they’ve gone for an older actor – a significant jump from recent incarnations. Goodbye, youthful geeks. This refreshes the entire dynamic of the world’s longest-running sci-fi show yet again.

Capaldi is glad to be grey at a distinguished-looking 55. To put this into context, that was William Hartnell’s age when he took on the role of the first Doctor in 1963. Third Doctor Jon Pertwee was 54 when he left the role.

I’ve known for ages that Peter Capaldi is a huge fan – after discovering the letter he sent to Radio Times in 1974 aged 15. I’m so chuffed for RT that that very same letter was displayed on BBC1’s Doctor Who Live show and on the BBC News!

Late in the day, I had the chance to go to the studio in Elstree for the live programme, but I wanted to relax and watch it on TV – plus I already had my folks coming round and Doctor Who legend Katy Manning (1970s companion Jo Grant).

As soon as Capaldi was announced, our phones went berserk with elated calls, texts and alerts from family and friends. La Manning fielded a Twitter-storm on her iPhone.

I met Peter Capaldi in February on the set of An Adventure in Space and Time (BBC2’s forthcoming origins of Who drama), and we stood transfixed as David Bradley brought William Hartnell back to life, recording scenes in the stunningly re-created original Tardis set. How touching that Capaldi – who was captivated by Doctor Who from the very beginning, aged five – is now, 50 years later, playing that same character.

But enough from me. Here are the immediate reactions of Doctor Who luminaries and my Radio Times colleagues…

Katy Manning – 1970s companion Jo Grant

“I’m over the moon. He’s going to make it absolutely his own. I have complete confidence that, as an actor, he’s going to come up with something wonderful. And he’s frightfully good-looking. There’s no two ways about it. He’s not an unattractive older man… In my case, he’s not an older man – he’s a toyboy! Another lovely surprise waiting for us is: how is he going to manifest the Doctor? What is this wonderful actor going to do with this gift of a part?”

Waris Hussein – Doctor Who director who cast William Hartnell

Currently in LA, Waris had managed to miss the Whoopla: “I had not heard till now. I think he will be very different and notably eccentric in the right direction. A good choice!!”

Jan Vincent-Rudzki – founder of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society

“Like many of the previous Doctors, Peter Capaldi is an actor whose performances have been an integral part of many dramas, lingering afterwards at the back of the mind, but rarely as the lead character. He last caught my attention with his compelling performance in The Hour. Doctor Who, the programme, has survived by regenerating itself, and with an older, and so experienced, leading actor this would give the programme the opportunity to take an exciting new direction since its return in 2004.”

Tom Spilsbury – editor of Doctor Who Magazine

“Peter Capaldi is such an amazing choice for the Doctor – the perfect contrast to Matt Smith, but still capable of making you believe that you’re watching absolutely the same man that we’ve been following for the last 50 years. Peter Capaldi has shown over his career that he can be intense, funny, quirky, angry, loveable – all the characteristics that will make a great Doctor Who.”

Frazer Hines – 1960s Doctor Who companion Jamie

“A great choice of new Doctor. For me he has the wisdom, and yet a twinkle in his eye. I think we can expect drama and humour and get away from any romance.” (Frazer has a new book out today, Fifty Shades of Frazer. “It’s My Life in Pictures, not porn!” he stresses.

Alison Graham – Radio Times TV editor

“It’s thrilling news for people like me, who stopped watching Doctor Who after Patrick Troughton and have ever since thought of it as a kids’ programme. Capaldi will bring a more mature – in every sense – audience. I’m so looking forward to his first episode.”

Mark Braxton – Radio Times writer

“How can a fan be anything other than pleased that Capaldi has been handed the keys to the Tardis? Someone with that track record, experience and ability to turn emotions on a sixpence. I’ve liked the man from his endearingly awkward oil-company rep in Local Hero in 1983 right through to last year’s gorgeously funny spoof, The Cricklewood Greats (featuring Doctor Worm!). He’s made some of our best-loved series classier with guest appearances, even marking his sci-fi card in both Who and Torchwood, but now the spotlight is well and truly beaming on him. I hope he brings a lot of himself to the role (friendly, nice, authoritative); Tennant suppressed his Scottishness but I say: let Capaldi speak with his own accent. After all, every planet has a Scotland.”

Jack Seale – Radio Times writer

“It seems obvious now, doesn’t it? It could only have been Capaldi. Funny and scary, both at once or switching from one to the other in a second – Capaldi has all that naturally. Matt Smith was miraculously good at looking young but acting 900 years old – you’d never find another young actor to do that as well as Smith, so going older again makes sense. I’m so pleased they went for the right person without worrying too much about merchandise, fan-girls and America. I also wonder if some of the more modish, kooky lines Moffat was giving Smith towards the end might not pass muster with Capaldi. I’m already hearing people who’d drifted away from the show saying they’ll come back now.”

Ian Levine – Doctor Who überfan


“So it is Peter Capaldi after all. A totally brilliant choice, even though we all knew it a week ago. So yet another worst kept secret from the BBC. To be honest, with all the bookies favouriting him, we all thought it was so obvious that it might’ve all been a bluff, a red herring, but thankfully it wasn’t, and so I’m thrilled. I don’t know what all the fan-girls who fancy David Tennant and Matt Smith will make of it, but I couldn’t be happier. I just want them to keep him for five years and for us to get a series every year.”