Okay, since a few people have asked, I’ll publicly state my views on Peter Capaldi as The Doctor.
I like it. I’m glad they’ve skewed towards an older Doctor again and Capaldi is an excellent choice. Out of all the names that were mentioned in association with the role, outside of Idris Elba (which, let’s face it, very unlikely given his career trajectory), he’s the one I would have picked as my top choice.
But here’s the thing…
Capaldi is such a strong actor, they really, really need to up their game.
The last series of The Thick of It showed what a force Capaldi is as an actor. The last series of Doctor Who was… well, it was the last series of Doctor Who.
I didn’t actually see the Capaldi reveal. I was sleeping. But, to be honest, even if I hadn’t been I wasn’t bothered to watch it anyway. I just don’t care much about the show at the moment. And that makes me really sad.
I’ve been a Doctor Who fan almost my whole life. One of my first televisual memories is seeing the Watcher come down and transform Tom Baker into Peter Davison during his regeneration. That was in 1981. I was five.
I didn’t miss an episode of Doctor Who after that. But it was rarely on TV. These weren’t the days of home video, catchup TV and endless repeats, so my main introduction to Doctor Who was through the Target novelizations. Through those I got to know the Doctor. All the Doctors. Not just Five, but back through all the eras. My favourite Doctor was Two, who I got to know exclusively through the books. He remains my favourite. It wasn’t until years later that I actually saw Patrick Troughton in action, but his character endeared itself to me through those books. When we had a day at school where we were encouraged to dress up as our favorite fictional characters, it was Two I dressed up as. No one knew who I was and they were confused when I said Doctor Who - they only knew Peter Davison in his cricket gear - but I didn’t care. I was dressed as my favourite character of all time.
The love dwindled for a while when Doctor Who was off our screens, but it never went away. And I loved the return of the Doctor when it happened. I love Chris Eccleston. David Tennant outstayed his welcome, IMHO, but there’s a lot that I like still. Matt Smith’s first series contains my favourite all-time episode of Doctor Who - Vincent and the Doctor - but since then?
I’ve found myself caring less and less. Moffat’s tropes and issues with women and diversity have become more and more apparent through his writing (a number of people have addressed these far more eloquently than I, but suffice it to say, if you reduce a main female character to literally having no agency of her own, there’s a big problem), and I struggled to even get through the last series. There were a couple of episodes I enjoyed but… I find myself in the position where I don’t really care any more.
And that’s kinda heartbreaking for the ten year old me who loved the character so much that he dressed up in the costume of an actor who hadn’t even been seen on screen for 20 years.
I want to make that kid live again.
So, Moffat and the writing team - you have an amazing actor. Now you need to be amazing too.