Peter Capaldi leaving The Musketeers for Doctor Who was “a blessing in disguise” say cast

The actor's time as Cardinal Richelieu has come to an end - but how has it affected the new series of the swashbuckling BBC drama?

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Peter Capaldi’s debut series of Doctor Who has been a hit with audiences – but taking on the role meant leaving behind his part as villainous minister Cardinel Richilieu in BBC1’s Alexandre Dumas adaptation The Musketeers.

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You might think Capaldi’s departure would be a tough loss, but the quartet of swashbuckling heroes – Tom Burke (Athos), Santiago Cabrera (Aramis), Howard Charles (Porthos) and Luke Pasqualino (D’Artagnan), as well as new baddie Marc Warren (The Comte de Rochefort) – are looking on the bright side.

“I think [Capaldi leaving] ended up being a blessing in disguise, in the sense that it just created a new dynamic for the show,” Cabrera told RadioTimes.com.

“It meant you could take the show in a different direction. You need that, you need a new energy for a new season, and that’s been very much a catalyst for the new take on the show.”

But surely Marc Warren was concerned about taking over from Capaldi as the show’s villain? Not exactly…

“To be honest with you, that never crossed my mind,” he said. “I never considered the weight of that at all – I just looked at it as I’m just playing the new baddie, and I just got on with it. I didn’t get into any comparison with Peter.”

All the actors make it clear that a line has been drawn under Capaldi’s time on the show, and as if to hammer it home tonight’s first episode begins with the Cardinal’s funeral – presumably also part of what Howard Charles says makes this run of episodes “a bit darker”.

“The show’s got older, it’s grown up a bit – but it’s the same person,” he said. “We’re interested in the shadows of these people – not just how they look in the light.”

More generally, change is on the horizon according to the actors. “I think last year was a lot of thinking about the book and Dumas’ other stuff,” Utopia actor Tom Burke said, “and it feels a bit more like its own thing now. The writers are taking it in places that are very different.”

Marc Warren added: “I think if you enjoyed the first series, you’re definitely going to enjoy the second one. It’s bigger and better, and they’ve pushed the envelope out even further and there should be something for everybody to enjoy.”

And might we be seeing the Musketeers ride one more time after that? “We’ll have to see how season two goes really, but we spoke about it the other day and I think we’d all be more than happy to come back for a third run,” said former Skins actor Luke Pasqualino. “I think we owe it to ourselves, I think we owe it to the show. I don’t think any of us are quite done with these characters or this show yet.”

Well, except Peter Capaldi. But we knew that.

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The Musketeers returns to BBC1 tonight (2nd January) at 9:00pm