Who Is the New Doctor Who?

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Now that the 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who” is over, there’s something we need to talk about. Peter Capaldi. It’s been several months since the announcement, and now the world knows the man’s name. He’s the actor who will be portraying The Doctor on the longest running scifi series in history, BBC’s “Doctor Who.” We all know the name now, but who is he really? Let’s find out, after the jump.

What is Regeneration?

For the newbies out there, you might wonder how there could be a new actor in the part of an established character. The Doctor is notably not human. He is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, and more specifically, a renegade Time Lord, having stolen his time machine, the TARDIS to freely travel time and space, with usually female companions, having ‘adventures,’ and frequently protecting the human race on planet Earth and beyond.

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The Time Lords do this thing called ‘regeneration’ when they are close to death, or think they are about to die. Regeneration is the complete physical and psychological rewriting of a Time Lord’s DNA, so rather than dying, they change into a completely new person, with a new personality, but with memories theoretically intact. Sometimes they can even trigger it voluntarily, but one might suppose that would be silly or vain, and done by those who don’t lead a dangerous life, and have lives to spare. That’s not The Doctor.

Legend dictates that Time Lords can only regenerate twelve times, making the thirteenth incarnation the one who would die a true death, never to return. It should be noted that further regenerations have been attempted. The Doctor’s arch-nemesis, The Master, has had a number of second (fourteenth? fifteenth? sixteenth?) chances, usually by sinister and nefarious ways. The Doctor, on the other hand, will be entering his twelfth incarnation as actor Peter Capaldi.

Actor with a Resume

Many actors come to the role of The Doctor with a few credits, but gain the majority of their non-“Who” work experience afterward. Peter Capaldi brings a full resume to the show, including a BAFTA and an American Academy Award. His film career includes roles in Local Hero, Dangerous Liasons, In the Loop, and he was the cute guy in Lair of the White Worm (no, I’m not talking about Hugh Grant). That’s not even counting his own direction work.

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On television, he’s been on the excellent “The Hour,” Who spin-off “Torchwood: Children of Earth,” “Selling Hitler,” “The All New Alexei Sayle Show,” “The Thick of It,” and Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere.” He not only has some of the best quality TV under his belt, but he’s also got his nerd pedigree down as well. In his youth, he also fronted the Dreamboys, a post-punk new wave band that had talk show host Craig Ferguson as the drummer.

Wow, wasn’t that something? Bauhaus, watch out. Yeah, I know, as if Craig Ferguson isn’t obsessed with “Doctor Who” enough, now one of his best mates is in the lead…

The Future

Will the Who-steria end? It may be suggested that the popularity of “Doctor Who” in recent years has been fueled by the youth of the actors playing The Doctor. In succession, we have had Christopher Eccleston, David Tennat, and Matt Smith in the role, and now we will have Capaldi, who at age 55, will be the same age as the First Doctor, William Hartnell, when he began the role. It’s a bit of a shock. Will Capaldi be able to hold on to the young fanboy, and most importantly, fangirl audience of the show?

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I think Peter Capaldi will do just fine. He may look old, but he has a young man’s heart and personality. Just like, if you think about it, Matt Smith as the youngest actor to play the part, also channeled William Hartnell in my opinion, and played old, Capaldi will be young. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

The “Doctor Who” Christmas special airs, when else, Christmas evening on BBC America. See you there!

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