LIke more than 6m other fans, I tuned into BBC One last night to discover the identity of the actor who would take Doctor Who into its second half-century.
While there’s much about Steven Moffat’s era that I’ve disliked – wasting two and a half seasons on a plot-line that boils down to ‘my annoying, whiney companion is also my mother-in-law’ being a good example – his casting of Matt Smith was spot on.
Smith has been a strong leading man for the series who defied the knee-jerk claims of some (not us) that he was too young and too inexperienced to play the part.
But for all Smith’s talent and success, there are a number of reasons I’m delighted Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor.
1) He’s a genuine heavyweight, talented and already successful actor, qualities any fan of a show should want from a leading man.
2) His casting signals a clear vote of confidence in the series on the part of BBC bosses – you don’t sign up actors of this calibre unless you’re very much committed to a show’s future.
3) It’s time the series moved on from the ‘friendly older brother’ vibe of the Tennant and Smith years and offered viewers a different dynamic. The casting of a 55 year old actor will ensure this.
4) Gravitas. This is something the Doctor is often claimed to have but which casting and performance have too often failed to capture. Like David Tennant before him, Smith was very good at being angry, shouty and playful, but neither ever really nailed the natural authority, depth or dignity of a character who has faced down countless alien foes.
In contrast Capaldi has gravitas by the bucketload. You can see it in the levelheaded, calm way he took in the audience’s rapturous applause and the fact that an entire half an hour of prime time TV had been devoted to the news of his casting.
5) I’m hoping having an actor of Capaldi indisputable talent will force Moffat to improve the quality of his scripts, some of which have been shockingly poor. It’s clear from Sherlock and Jekyll that Moffat’s an outstanding writer but much his Doctor Who work has been very much below expectations.
With a true powerhouse of an actor now installed in the TARDIS, Moffat has no excuse not up his game and deliver a really outstanding debut season for the 12th Doctor.