Concerned that the hoopla around the Royal Baby had established new expectations for what qualifies as a global media event originating in the U.K., and that the months of online speculation had not done enough to build anticipation among Doctor Who’s devoted fanbase, the BBC announced that Peter Capaldi has been cast as the 12th Doctor in a drawn-out half-hour special designed to turn said casting into an unparalleled social media firestorm.
At least within some circles, such hype would seem unnecessary. Beloved for his foul-mouthed turns in Armando Iannucci’s The Thick of It and In The Loop and most recently seen in the second season of The Hour and this summer’s World War Z, Peter Capaldi is a respected actor whose age makes him a marked departure from the previous three doctors in the 21st century incarnation of the series. However, Capaldi is not unfamiliar to the Doctor Who universe, having played a key role in excellent spinoff series Torchwood: Children of Earth in 2009.
Beyond the difficulty in reconciling “Fuckity-bye” with the family-friendly reputation of Doctor Who in the U.K., the only other challenge with Capaldi’s casting is that it marks the least interesting of the potential deviations from the traditional casting of the Doctor. Both race and gender were considered possible avenues for the series to explore, and while the notion of an older Doctor represents a change, it’s one that doesn’t come paired with a more interesting shift in the series’ representations.
While Capaldi is well-liked enough that his casting is unlikely to cause any degree of uproar (rumors of his casting were well-received in recent weeks), and it’s likely that many viewers didn’t have to Google him like they did with Matt Smith or David Tennant, it’s unlikely to be a choice that dramatically alters the shape of the series moving forward.
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