What Peter Capaldi was watching, reading and listening to when he found out he was the new Doctor

Mad Men, The Voice and David Bowie: we go back in time for an exclusive insight into the Doctor Who star's DVD box, iPod and bookshelf...

Ever wondered what the Doctor does when he’s not hurtling through space and time?

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As we approach the series 8 finale, we jumped into our RadioTimes.com TARDIS to go back in time and bring you a previously unseen interview with the Time Lord himself (well, the actor who plays him).

Here’s the TV, films, books and music Peter Capaldi was enjoying last July, just as he found out about his childhood dream of playing the Doctor had come true…

Peter, what have you been watching on TV?

I’ve been enjoying The Voice. I didn’t expect to like it but the judges are very kind, and are also wonderful musicians. I love when artists talk about the mechanics of what they do, and these judges all do it with respect for the ultimate mystery of it.

I was really enjoying the Modern Family box set but then it nose-dived in an extraordinary way. I love Mad Men. It uses aesthetics in a sophisticated, powerful way to achieve its narrative ambitions, rather than just showing lots of iconic 60s furniture. It’s really about our lives—the concept and design of the world we live in now.  

I’ve recently gone back to The Sopranos. James Gandolfini has just died and in that show he holds the whole thing together with an accessible, wonderful performance. I had the great gift or working with him very briefly. People sit around talking about acting as if it’s a secret, how complex and how luminous it is. And it shouldn’t be a secret. Its about revealing the truth and that’s what he does all the time.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

I’ve been listening to David Bowie’s new stuff. It’s great. He’s always there with me, and always has been. When we did The Thick of It, I used to play Scary Monsters to wind myself up for particular rants. His songs seem to grow the older they get and seem particularly potent now. I’m really enjoying British Sea Power. I don’t go to many gigs, but I went to theirs. 

Have you seen any brilliant films?

Behind the Candelabra was great fun. It’s brilliant to have such a strange story made so enjoyable. I recently saw Berberian Sound Studio. It’s about a sound recordist who’s taken to a film studio in Italy and given the job of creating the soundtrack for an Italian horror film. He finds himself trapped in the studio and it becomes a horror film in itself. It’s about movie-making, but it becomes very scary. It’s rare to encounter such a clever, contained film. I’ve just seen Searching For Sugarman. I loved it. It’s fascinating and moving, the idea that someone can be so popular and not know about it.


And finally, what books have you been enjoying?

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I’m re-reading the The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. It made a great impression on me. Kundera understands something quite profound about life, and describes it in a very accessible, wise and sad way. I’m really enjoying Susan Sontag’s The Volcano Lover. I loved visiting Pompei and Naples, and found it very moving. This book is evocative of that experience.