BBC sci-fi Doctor Who has long been defined by its protagonist’s ability to travel anywhere in space and time on a whim – so fans may be surprised to learn that the new series will see the Doctor (temporarily) stuck on Earth.
“He’s not ranging around time and space,” actor Peter Capaldi, who plays the 12th incarnation of the time-travelling alien, told SFX.
“I ﬁnd myself becalmed and trapped, and so have to take a job as a lecturer. That’s where he meets [new companion] Bill."
This wouldn’t be the first time the Doctor has been stuck on Earth for an episode or two – Jon Pertwee’s incarnation was left similarly becalmed by the Time Lords in the 1970s and was forced to take a job at UNIT, while more recent years saw David Tennant’s Time Lord trapped in the 1960s – but as of yet there’s no clear reason for his difficulties, and how they might relate to the “secret misson” the Doctor is on with Nardole (Matt Lucas) in the episode. Hmm...
Capaldi, who will give Doctor Who fans a sneak preview of the new series and new companion Pearl Mackie at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival next weekend, also went on to describe his new companion in greater detail, emphasising her character’s relative lack of knowledge about his weird and wonderful world.
“He thinks she’s very clever, and deserves more than she has, but has to be encouraged to realise how valuable she is,” Capaldi said.
“We keep saying she’s new but in a way she’s a classic companion, because she doesn’t know anything at all about the Doctor or his existence or space and time or Daleks.
“He’s able to adopt an almost teaching role in showing her these delights that are available to him. But of course it spins out of control, as ever, because it’s the Doctor. He has to explain himself more, and explain the universe more, but in a way that’s more old fashioned, I think.”
A Doctor forced to stay on Earth? An old-fashioned companion? Sounds like Capaldi is headed back to the 1970s for the Doctor Who adventure none of us were expecting…
You can read the full Steven Moffat interview in issue 286 of SFX, on sale now