Pop Culture

Meet the new 'Doctor Who,' Peter Capaldi 

Dan Kitwood / Today
Peter Capaldi.

Who are you? Well, on Sunday, the BBC (and BBC America in the U.S.) let adoring fans of the 50-year-old series "Doctor Who" in on who will play the next incarnation of the traveling Time Lord: Peter Capaldi.

Capaldi will play the 900-plus-year-old 12th Doctor and takes over the role from Matt Smith in an episode that will air on Nov. 23 in the UK. 

"Doctor Who belongs to all of us," said Capaldi after the announcement.

Scottish actor Capaldi appeared in both the feature film "In the Loop" and TV series "The Thick of It" as a foul-mouthed political advisor, and was highly touted to be the next in the role. (Curiously, he most recently appeared in "World War Z" as a character called the "W.H.O. Doctor" — in that case, the World Health Organization medical expert.)

He appeared once in a "Doctor Who" episode, "The Fires of Pompeii," in 2008.

The announcement was made in a live TV show during a special 30-minute program, which played in prime time in the UK and in the afternoon in America, and was filmed before a 400-member studio audience. Also making appearances on stage and in pre-taped interviews were former Doctor Who actors and former traveling companions. 

"Veep" and "Thick of It" writer/producer/director Armando Iannucci immediately tweeted his delight:



The character of the alien Gallifreian only known as "The Doctor" can "regenerate" his form, which helps explain how, for example, David Tennant transformed into Matt Smith in 2010; Capaldi will next regenerate from Smith.

There had been some discussion about whether the doctor should change gender (he's always been male) or race (he's always been white), but that apparently that was not to happen.

The choice of Capaldi is interesting in that both Smith and Tennant have established a trend of younger doctors; earlier on the Doctors tended to be played by actors in their 40s or older. Capaldi is 55.

"Doctor Who" first premiered in 1963 in the UK and ran until 1996; it was shown in the U.S. in syndication over the years, and garnered a cult of fans. But ever since the show was rebooted in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston in the role, its appeal has reached new heights in the U.S.