He was my Doctor: Fans and stars pay tribute to departing Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi

How will the Twelfth Doctor be remembered? Here's what the fans who love him and the stars who worked with him have to say

(Richard Grassie for Radio Times)

After four glorious years travelling through space and time in the Tardis, Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor says farewell to Doctor Who this Christmas.

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On Christmas Day Twelve becomes Thirteen, as Capaldi regenerates into Jodie Whittaker, and Steven Moffat hands the reins of the BBC sci-fi series to Chris Chibnall.

How will Peter Capaldi’s Doctor be remembered? What will his legacy be? To answer those questions we turned to the only people who could possibly answer them – the fans and the stars who worked alongside him.

After many happy years in the Tardis, Peter Capaldi will bow out of Doctor Who this Christmas and we want YOU to tell us…

Posted by Radio Times on Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Here’s what they had to say…

Doctor by name, Doctor by nature

Fan Jamie Jones paid tribute to the Scotsman for being so much more than just an actor playing the role of a Time Lord.

Doctor Who Peter Capaldi Tribute - Jamie Jones

“His Doctor was bigger than most of anything we saw on screen and, off his own back, he was able to extend that magic much further and out into the real world. He knew how important it was to be a role model to the young, to give them words of wisdom and most importantly to give them hope in a world that can be unpleasant and dark at times,” he wrote.

“In a time when we need fictional heroes the most, the 12th Doctor was up there among the best, all thanks to Peter Capaldi.”

“His portrayal of the Doctor was very genuine in my eyes,” said fellow fan Jessica Chaleff. “The way he battled his emotions and found the good in everything helped me through a very dark time in my life. If it wasn’t for his Doctor, I don’t know how I would have coped. When he smiled, you knew everything was okay.”

Sharon Dunsford didn’t think any other actor worked as hard as Capaldi “to embody what the Doctor actually stands for in everything he does”.

Peter Capaldi Tribute - Sharon Dunsford

She praised him for engaging with both young and old fans, whether meeting with them at conventions or sending special messages in character to inspire young children.

“Lots of actors who take on the role talk about how they enjoy the show, but he’s different – he’s a proper, dyed-in-the-wool fan. Imagine how any one of us as fans would feel to wake up one day and find out that we were the Doctor, and then imagine what it would be like if it wasn’t just a fantasy. That actually happened, and I think that love of the show made Peter Capaldi’s tenure a bit special,” she explained.

A fan for all seasons

Joe Simons said Capaldi “made us feel like we were watching an actual person on TV rather than a fictional character,” and praised him for his ability to give the fans exactly what they wanted.

“Even behind the scenes he was clearly twisting the arms of the producers into bringing back lots of classic fan-favourite things like the classic series Daleks, the original Tardis interior and of course the original Cybermen!” he wrote.

“Peter Capaldi gave the role a classic feel with a modern flair,” said Leah Tedesco. “The 12th Doctor is basically the distilled essence of the character over the decades of Doctor Who.”

“For me there hasn’t been an actor who has embodied the Doctor quite like Peter Capaldi,” claimed Rich Higton, who has been a fan of the series for more than 30 years. “He is both wise and eccentric, charismatic and awe inspiring. His speeches in The Zygon Inversion, Thin Ice and The Doctor Falls were incredible.”

Peter Capaldi Tributes - Rich Higton

“Peter brought a gravitas and a wisdom to the roll, bringing to mind Pertwee’s Third Doctor and Hartnell’s First. Never before would I have thought that a new series Doctor could rival Jon Pertwee in my affections but Peter has done that.

“He has evolved his Doctor through his three seasons, becoming more alien but also losing the gruffness of his season eight persona,” Higton continued.

“Peter Capaldi is the Doctor I would choose to travel with. He is the Doctor full stop.”

A Heaven Sent talent

David Goman was among the many fans who were utterly bowled over by Capaldi’s performance in Heaven Sent, which he says “will remain my all-time favourite episode forever.”

Peter Capaldi Tributes - David Goman

“He carried an entire episode by himself and did so with magnificence at the greatest calibre,” Sean Livingston added. “Capaldi is a true thespian on film and television.”

John Dewey said the episode was evidence that Capaldi is “a classic actor at the top of his game” and described it as his “standout performance”.

Paul Kelly praised the actor’s subtlety, nuance and “the heart with which he brought himself to the role”.

“I hoped he might do at least one more series, but alas, we have these wonderful episodes,” Kelly continued. “He had me from that scene in the cafe in Deep Breath. And then of course Under the Lake, Listen, Time Heist… I think he really came into his own in Mummy on the Orient Express, when all the elements of his personality were in balance. The Magician’s Apprentice, the Zygon episodes and Hell Bent. The whole of series nine is just perfection. Thank you Peter, you have given Doctor Who a superb legacy.”

Doctor WHO?

So convincing has he been in his role that some fans have trouble distinguishing the man from the Time Lord.

“It’s not always easy to tell where Capaldi ends and Twelve begins because he infused the character with all of his qualities and more,” said Jodi Bayer.

Peter Capaldi Tributes - Jodi Bayer

“His Doctor is cool, complex and has an emotional depth that makes it easy to connect with him on many different levels. That connection inspires fans to be kind, compassionate and creative, which makes him a wonderful role model for all ages and the perfect ambassador for Doctor Who. Like Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee and Baker, his legacy will be felt for decades.”

“I’ve even started to say, ‘Give us this day, our daily Peter Capaldi chuckle,” Sabrina Johnson revealed, “because the man makes me smile just by looking at him. He’s taken his Doctor a step beyond and soared high into the cosmos.”

“Peter Capaldi will always be one of my Doctors because of his phenomenal speeches, which resonate with contemporary societal issues,” Connie Jordan-Turner wrote. “I’ll always remember when the Twelfth Doctor was Peter Capaldi.”

“Remember how regardless of who your favourite Doctor was, in the classic series, Tom Baker was – to most – THE Doctor? Well in the new series, Peter Capaldi is the Tom Baker of new Doctors,” said Brian Cooper. “He embodies the spirit and ideals of the Doctor both on screen and in the public life. He taught us so many life lessons, perhaps most notably that ‘the essence of Doctor Who is kindness’.”

The Doctor is Capaldi

The fans weren’t alone in their praise for the Twelfth Doctor, though. The stars of Doctor Who – and famous faces who love the show too – were also lining up to salute Capaldi.

“I think he’ll be remembered as Doctor Who! I think it’s as simple as that,” Pearl Mackie, who played the Twelfth Doctor’s final companion Bill Potts, told RadioTimes.com.

Peter Capaldi Tribute - Pearl Mackie

“I think Peter’s Doctor has been wonderful, engaging, confusing, enigmatic and mysterious and passionate and fervent and brilliant.

“Everyone’s got their own interpretation, their own understanding of Doctor Who as a character, and I think that’s what makes the series so continually successful. Everyone engages with it in a different way – so I’m sure people will remember Peter’s Doctor in very different ways, as they should.”

Mackie said she learned a lot from the actor on set. “He’s so experienced, and he’s such a wonderful actor. You watch him in the room, and you’re like, ‘This is fantastic’. And then you watch him on the screen: if you get to stand behind a camera for any reason, you have a little peek at what he’s doing. And you’re like, ‘That’s even MORE magnificent. How do you do that?'”

Peter Capaldi and David Bradley on the set of Doctor Who
Peter Capaldi and David Bradley on the set of Doctor Who (Ray Burmiston for Radio Times)

“Peter’s got this kind of wonderful eccentricity,” said his Twice Upon A Time co-star David Bradley. “He’s got that quicksilver intelligence and also a vulnerability about him, that when things get tight he hasn’t got the answer to everything.” Bradley is also a big fan of Capaldi’s longer locks: “I prefer his Doctor with longer hair. He looks as though he’s just had an electric shock, and it’s just gone straight to his head.”

Mark Gatiss, who also makes an appearance in the Christmas episode, said he’s sad about the Twelfth Doctor’s departure “because I think Peter’s not only brilliant, he’s so in his groove.”

“I think he’s just marvellous,” Gatiss added. “He looks brilliant. I was saying to my friend the other day whose kids have just started watching it, I said, ‘Peter looks like a badge at the moment’. You could have a badge of Peter’s head with his triangular head and his chin, you just go, ‘That’s the Doctor’.”

Mark Gatiss in the Doctor Who Christmas special 2017

Former showrunner Russell T Davies believes Capaldi will be remembered “gloriously” in the annals of Doctor Who.

“For us fans, he’s the fan made good. A bit like David Tennant was as well. Imagine being that fan, running that fan club, writing those letters, saying how much you loved it, drawing Daleks all your life, and then getting to play the Doctor!”

He continued, “I feel some of that because I was that fan and I got to write it, but to be the Doctor, it’s something actually quite extraordinary. It’s brilliant.

“I’m sure he wouldn’t mind my saying that he’s already automatically the elder statesman of Doctor Who, simply by accident of birth. And what a great title that is to have.”

Michelle Gomez, aka Missy, kept it short but sweet: “I’ll miss the amazing, wonderful, incredible Peter Capaldi, who I think is one of the best Doctors we’ve ever had.”

Peter Capaldi Tributes - Michelle Gomez

And as for Steven Moffat – the man responsible for putting Capaldi in the Tardis in the first place – well, we’ll leave it to him to tell you why there was only one man for the job.

From the moment I imagined Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, it just had to be him: those suffering eyes, that furious brow, that knife blade face. It was all so right. It didn’t hurt that he is one of the finest actors in the world, either.

I remember his surprise first appearance in the 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor – exactly four years ago, as I write these words – that famous stare blazing away at the audience, as all the Doctors flew in to save Gallifrey. I sat in the audience at the BFI and thought to myself, “The time of Capaldi is coming.”

The Doctor Who team gather on set - Ray Burmiston
The Doctor Who team gather on set (Ray Burmiston for Radio Times)

Well, that time is very nearly up, and for me the days of working on the best show in the world with the kindest, cleverest and most talented of actors have already drawn to a close. I’m sad it’s all over but I’m glad it happened. I’m even gladder I get to keep Peter as a friend.

But I’m gladdest of all that once long ago, in a far-off land, while dressed as Cardinal Richelieu in The Musketeers, Peter Capaldi said yes to the role of the Doctor.

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Doctor Who returns to BBC1 in 2018