Twelfth Doctor

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The Doctor
The Twelfth Doctor
Portrayed byPeter Capaldi
Tenure25 December 2013–present
First appearance"The Time of the Doctor"
Number of series1
Appearances4 stories (4 episodes)
CompanionsClara Oswald
Preceded byMatt Smith (Eleventh Doctor)
SeriesSeries 8 (2014)
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The Doctor
The Twelfth Doctor
Portrayed byPeter Capaldi
Tenure25 December 2013–present
First appearance"The Time of the Doctor"
Number of series1
Appearances4 stories (4 episodes)
CompanionsClara Oswald
Preceded byMatt Smith (Eleventh Doctor)
SeriesSeries 8 (2014)

The Twelfth Doctor is an incarnation of the Doctor, the protagonist of the long-running BBC television science fiction programme, Doctor Who. He is portrayed by Scottish actor Peter Capaldi.[1] Within the series' narrative, the Doctor is a time travelling, humanoid alien from a race known as the Time Lords. When the Doctor is critically injured, he can regenerate his body, and in doing so gain a new physical appearance, and with it a distinct new personality; this plot mechanism has allowed the Doctor to be portrayed by a series of actors over the decades since the programme's inception in 1963.

Capaldi made his first, very brief appearance as the Doctor in the show's fiftieth anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor" (2013), as one of the thirteen incarnations of the Doctor who are summoned to save Gallifrey from destruction. Capaldi's first full appearance was at the end of the 2013 Christmas special "The Time of the Doctor".[2][3] He is accompanied in the eighth series by companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman).[4]


Peter Capaldi portrays the Twelfth Doctor

Matt Smith, who played the Eleventh Doctor, announced his departure from Doctor Who on 1 June 2013.[5] Prior to the announcing of Capaldi as the next Doctor, there was extensive media speculation on the subject.[6] On 3 August 2013, bookmakers William Hill suspended betting when Capaldi became the five to six favourite to be cast.[7] Capaldi's casting was revealed on 4 August during a live broadcast on BBC One, titled Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor.[8] The live show was watched by an average of 6.27 million in the UK, and was also simulcast in the United States, Canada and Australia.[9]

While Capaldi was the first choice for the role, other actors were also approached in case Capaldi should turn the offer down. Ben Daniels, who was an early favourite following the announcement of Matt Smith's departure,[6] said that he had been approached with a view to assessing whether he would be interested in playing the Doctor, with his name remaining as a potential contender until just before the live BBC broadcast.[10]

Doctor Who head writer and executive producer Steven Moffat said that Capaldi "briefly flicked through [his] mind" while casting the Eleventh Doctor, but that he dismissed the idea, thinking he was not right for the part at the time.[3] Ben Stephenson, the BBC's drama commissioner, said that Capaldi was suggested months before the August revelation and that a secret audition was held at Moffat's home.[2] Capaldi prepared for the audition by downloading old Doctor Who scripts from the Internet and practising in front of a mirror. He discovered he had been given the part during filming for Adrian Hodges' The Musketeers in Prague; after missing a call from his agent, Capaldi rang back to be greeted with "Hello, Doctor!"[3] At 55 years old when originally cast, Capaldi was only a few months younger than William Hartnell (the First Doctor) was, when he was cast in the role,[3] and will be the oldest actor since Hartnell to star in the show.[11] Moffat felt that an older actor would work best following the youngest actor, as it would both provide a change and lessen comparisons. He commented, "I can absolutely believe that the strange old-young Matt Smith will turn into the strange young-old Peter Capaldi."[12]

Capaldi has previously appeared playing other roles in the Doctor Who franchise. He portrayed Lucius Caecilius Iucundus in the 2008 episode "The Fires of Pompeii" and John Frobisher in Children of Earth, the 2009 serial of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood.[3][13] Moffat has stated that he plans on explaining over time why there are three characters in the Doctor Who universe with the same appearance; his predecessor Russell T Davies had once explained to him a theory for the first two, and upon Capaldi's casting assured Moffat that the explanation would still work.[14] This situation was alluded to in "Deep Breath", when a confused Doctor is reminded of Caecilius when he examines his face in a mirror.[15] Capaldi's casting marks the second time an actor has previously appeared in the series and then been cast as an incarnation of the Doctor, the first being Colin Baker.

Capaldi briefly appears in the 50th anniversary special. Moffat stated that it was his "plan from the start" that all the Doctors would fly in to save Gallifrey, and he knew there would be a new one at that time. He wrote it before knowing who would be cast.[16] Capaldi filmed his appearance on 3 October 2013, long after principal photography for the special had ended, and the same day he filmed his debut scene for "The Time of the Doctor".[17]

Capaldi kept his native Scottish accent for the role.[18][19][20][21] Speaking on his decision, he said he did it so he could feel closer to the character.[22] Capaldi's accent caused some viewers to struggle to understand him in the show, including some who required subtitles to understand what he was saying. As well as the difficulty understanding his accent, the delivery of his lines also made it harder to understand what he was saying, owing to the fact Capaldi delivered the lines in a very fast pace. Patricia Fletcher, a Manhattan-based voice, speech and dialect coach said "... the actor often speaks very quickly, with a staccato rhythm and without enough attention to articulating through to the end of his thought/line, this does promote a character choice of Doctor Who being sharp and quick-thinking, but does not help us understand what the Doctor is actually saying/thinking.” British Linguistics expert Professor David Crystal also felt that the accent and speed of delivery made it difficult for even British audiences to understand.[23][24]



The Twelfth Doctor's clothes consist of a signature dark blue short Crombie style coat with red lining, harking back to Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor, dark blue trousers, a long collared white shirt buttoned to the top with no tie, a navy cardigan or waistcoat as well as brogue boots. Throughout the series he varies his shirts from episode to episode, with navy and dark purple shirts appearing, as well as a black holey jumper, all being worn under his coat. The number of buttons done up on his coat varies in each episode. The look was created by Doctor Who costume designer Howard Burden.[25] His costume was described as "No frills, no scarfs, no messing, just 100% rebel Time Lord."[26] Capaldi said that the costume took a long time to find. The reason he settled on his final costume was because, “I think it’s quite a hard look. I always wanted him to be in black — I always just saw the Doctor in dark colours. Not tweed," in reference to his immediate predecessor's original costume. "Matt’s a really young cool guy — he can wear anything, but I wanted to strip it back and be very stark.”[27] He also described it as "back to basics."[25] This Doctor believed his predecessors love of bowties was embarrassing ("Time Heist"). Moffat described the look as "A stick-insect sort of thing". He also said that Clara calls him "a grey-haired stick-insect at one point".[28] Capaldi also stated that he chose the Twelfth Doctor's costume so fans of the show who enjoy cosplay could easily emulate it without going to great expense.[29] In his fifth episode, Time Heist, the Doctor references his costume as "hoping for minimalism, but I think I came up with magician."


Capaldi has said that his Doctor is "more alien than he's been in a while." He has stated that unlike his previous two incarnations who cared about humans and tried to understand them, this incarnation "doesn’t quite understand human beings or really care very much about their approval.” Jenna Coleman said of this Doctor, "He’s more removed, you can't quite access him in the same way", referring to the way you could with the more friendly accessible previous incarnation.[30] Capaldi also specifically requested that the Doctor will not flirt with his companion the way his previous incarnation did.[27] He has also been described as a "total adrenaline junkie". Steven Moffat has said of this Doctor, "He's a much fiercer, madder, less reliable Doctor".[31] "He’s not as immediately approachable and he’s not necessarily looking for your approval, when he says ‘Wait here, I’ll be back’, you’re not absolutely convinced... what he’s not doing is reassuring you very much.”[32] Mark Gatiss said that Capaldi's Doctor was "sort of Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee and even Christopher Eccleston’s someone who’s not immediately going to be your best friend and can be quite abrupt and rude.”[33] Moffat added to this analysis of the character by saying, “He has a tremendous ability with throwaway humor and a lot of it is around the fact that sometimes he is terribly rude. I think kids will think he is the rude Doctor [...] You might want to cuddle him but he really will resist.”[34] It has been said that part of the Doctor's personality will share “a certain acid wit” of Malcolm Tucker, the role Peter Capaldi is most famous for, "specifically the attitude, the wisecracks and the energy...he can be edgy, volatile and dangerous".[35][36][37] Capaldi has stated that all of the previous actors who had played the doctor were channeled in his portrayal[38] and that his particular influences were Hartnell, Pertwee and Davison.[36] He has been described as an "older, fiercer, trickier Doctor".[39]

In spite of his darker personality, Capaldi has said that the Doctor is still, "funny, joyful, passionate, emphatic, and fearless". While Jenna Coleman added that this time, the Doctor is more "enigmatic, mysterious, complex, worn, and unmannered," when compared to his immediate two predecessors. Steven Moffat joked that he's, "more Scottish than last time".[40]


The Twelfth Doctor makes a first (and uncredited) appearance in the programme's fiftieth anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor" (2013), when thirteen incarnations of the Doctor unite to save his home planet of Gallifrey from destruction during the Time War. At first, Time Lords in Gallifrey's war room spot twelve blue TARDISes approaching and encircling the planet. This count is then corrected to thirteen, and Capaldi's hands, eyes, and forehead are fleetingly shown.[41] He then makes his full debut at the end of the next episode, "The Time of the Doctor", after the Eleventh Doctor, about to die from old age, is given a new regeneration cycle from the Time Lords, who remain hidden in a pocket universe.

In series 8 premiere "Deep Breath" (2014), the Doctor arrives in Victorian London, where he recovers from the stress of his regeneration, initially under the care of the Paternoster Gang. After uncovering potential alien presence in London, he goes on the run, and lives as a homeless person for some time. He and Clara are reunited by a third party, and realise that this third party has been conspiring to bring the two of them together for some time. The Doctor helps Clara overcome her reservations about his new personality and older physical appearance, and they begin adventuring once more.[42]

Critical reception[edit]

Peter Capaldi's portrayal of the Doctor has been met with very positive reviews. Following the broadcast of his first full episode, Euan Ferguson of The Guardian called his performance "wise and thoughtful",[43] while Richard Beech of The Mirror agreed that Capaldi displayed "all the hallmarks of a great Doctor".[44] Michael Hogan of The Telegraph felt that Capaldi's portrayal "crackled with fierce intelligence and nervous energy".[45]


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  13. ^ "John Frobisher". BBC. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
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  31. ^ @CultBoxTV. "'Doctor Who' news summary: Everything we know so far about Peter Capaldi's Doctor". CultBox. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
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  42. ^ "Series 8 Airdate Confirmed, New Trailer & Image". Doctor Who TV. 27 June 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
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