“Outstanding”, “fantastic”, “unique”: Doctor Who fans react to Peter Capaldi debut

RadioTimes.com's roving reporters found out what viewers thought of the new darker Doctor during last night's premiere at BFI Southbank

Yesterday a few lucky Doctor Who fans were given the chance to get the first look at Peter Capaldi’s twelfth Doctor – with series eight opener Deep Breath premiering first in Cardiff, and then in London at the BFI South Bank. 


The casting of older Doctor Capaldi has been a divisive issue, with some areas of the press having doubts on whether The Thick of It actor would appeal to fans of previous Doctor Matt Smith.

Well, fresh from seeing the return of the Time Lord, here’s the verdict from the only people who matter. Was Capaldi a good / bad choice? Is series eight’s opener a disappointment / best thing ever? Never mind the critics, here come the fans. 

Simon, 40

What did you think of the episode?

I really enjoyed it. It was fantastic. I’m not actually that big a Doctor Who fan, but I got these tickets, and it’s an event, so I came down. I thoroughly enjoyed Peter Capaldi. Excellent.

What would you say was good about him then? 

I think it’s fantastic having an older Doctor now. My generation was brought up with Tom Baker and whathaveyou. It kind of harks back to that time for me and takes me back a bit more than Matt Smith and David Tennant. Also, he’s a fantastic actor. Probably one of the best that’s ever been in the role. 

Do you think it will still appeal to kids?

Yes. I think so, because there’s the monsters, and in this first episode, because Ben Wheatley directed it and we’re huge Ben Wheatley fans, we were hoping he’d get a little stamp in there; and he did. It’s genuinely quite tense. It’s one of the most tense episodes of the most recent Doctor Whos because he can do tension and fear and he can evoke that. Excellent. 

Chloe, 15

How did you find Capaldi?

He was actually amazing. He was so sharp. Really incredible to watch. 

What were your expectations?

I had a few doubts because I love Matt Smith so much, but all doubts have gone. He’s amazing.

And the episode?

That was such a good storyline, I wasn’t expecting it at all.

As a young fan, does it bother you Capaldi is a bit older than Matt Smith?

I don’t think it matters what he looks like on the outside, because he’s still the same person inside with the same mind.  

Mark, 49

So, what were your thoughts on Peter Capaldi?

I thought he was outstanding. I thought it was an absolutely excellent episode. I thought it was so cinematic, it was like a film rather than a TV episode. Beautifully shot, the most beautifully shot episode of Doctor Who I think I’ve ever seen. Peter and Jenna in that episode have added so many layers to their relationship. Those longer scenes I think really helped. It was like a proper hardcore drama. Just excellent. Excellent all round.

How do you think Peter compares to Matt Smith? 

I thought Matt Smith was really fantastic, and Peter’s gone in a different direction but I think he’s going to be a big hit. I think the way they linked them – without giving away any spoilers – was a fantastic way of doing it, to keep the Matt Smith fans in with Peter.

Are you a classic Who fan? How do you feel about having an older Doctor?

From my point of view, it’s brilliant. It’s lovely to have an older Doctor back. It’s weird having the Doctors younger, as a classic Who fan. But all of the Doctors have been the Doctor to me. I have enjoyed them all. And he’s going to be a fantastic inheritor of that great heritage.

Katie, 14

How did you find Capaldi?

He’s a really different Doctor and has a completely different spin on it but it’s really good. It’s different but he’s amazing.

How was he different, for you?

He’s a lot more mysterious. Not sinister, but older, and more mature.

How do you feel about the change from Matt Smith to Capaldi?

I think it’s a change, but it’s a nice change. The last few Doctors have been young. 

Not turned off by him being older?

No, not especially! 

And the episode?

It was really good. It was very funny, but there were also bits that were quite serious, and things we didn’t expect.

Man Dick Tam, 42

What did you think of the episode?

Brilliant. I think it’s a good dynamic between the new Doctor and the fact that he’s old. I like the play between how she’s young… Well, there’s always been a flirtation between the Doctor and companion in the new shows. But now there’s this change, that’s interesting. I think they’ll probably explore this more now.

Did you like Peter Capaldi?

I think he’s good. I had no idea who he was but I think he’s going to be good!

Have you been a Who fan for a long time?

I have but I’m not a fan of anything not sci-fi!

So did he remind you of some of the older Doctors?

No I think he was quite unique. In the interview, he said he’s bringing himself to the Doctor, which makes sense, because when they regenerate they should be themselves. I completely forgot to ask if they would ever do a female Doctor, though.

Beatrice, 23 and Henry, 18

What did you think of the episode overall?

Henry: I thought it was fantastic. I think it’s very different from Matt Smith’s era but at the same time it is still fundamentally the same show. They’ve managed to keep that, and they’ve managed to introduce it to a whole new audience but still make it really exciting for the people who’ve been faithful to it, as a good regeneration story always does.

And, of course, how did you find Capaldi?

Henry: He’s fantastic. He completely surpasses expectations. We still don’t know that much about it, and it’ll be interesting to discover more as the series goes on.

Beatrice: I personally think that he adds a lot of personality to the show. I love that the show is so historical and scientifically correct, and they know it. As an actor, he adds a lot of information, you know, he researches about it. I just think it’s wonderful for the audience, he makes his point in time. He adds eternity for doing the show.

Stevie, 22

What were your thoughts on the episode?

Well, I loved it. A bit different, but really entertaining.

How did you find Capaldi? 

Again different, but darker, and I loved that element to it.

Do you think the show is still accessible to kids?

Definitely. I don’t know if it’ll be too scary, I think kids still like that sort of thing as well. As a show, it’s generally quite universal.


Doctor Who returns with Deep Breath on August 23 on BBC1