HT James McGrath:
So, as the news came out over the weekend, a new actor has been chosen to play The Doctor on the now almost 50 year show Doctor Who. That actor, Peter Capaldi, has previously had roles in the show and its spin-off Torchwood. But one thing that makes him remarkable is that he breaks a trend in new Doctors. Since the role was played by William Hartnell, the actors have progressively been progressively younger. The current Doctor, Matt Smith, got the role at the age of 27. This couldn’t go on forever, unless we have an episode of baby Doctor Who. Adorable, but not exactly great for story-telling and ratings. Besides, you can’t have a baby running away from Daleks.
But Capaldi breaks that trend, and he is 55, the same age that Hartnell was when he had the rule in 1963. And he seems to be aware of this. Apparently he is already mimicking some of the gestures of the original Doctor.
I don’t think this is coincidence. A preview of how Capaldi will play the new Doctor? Perhaps. After all, the most recent materials have been returning to classic enemies, especially from the time of the Second Doctor with Patrick Troughton. And in some ways I see some of Troughton’s Doctor in Smith’s performances. So if Capaldi also brings with him some of the First Doctor into his character, that will be rather interesting. Also, if the canon of Doctor Who is going to stick to what has been established (there being only 12 regenerations), then the writers could be forcing a sort of chaistic structure to the story of the Doctor, with the end paralleling the beginning.
But that is speculative to the highest degree. After all, we know that the number of regenerations is not limited by canon, but by ratings. The ultimate wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey.
Of course, with the new Doctor not being played by a woman or a non-white actor, that doesn’t do much for diversity. But there is still one place that it has happened.
In the mean time then, here’s to the upcoming 50th anniversary and then the Christmas special with its newest Doctor. Hope to see the series continue on strong. And with more stories by Neil Gaiman!