THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS
Peter Capaldi talks gender swaps and seasonal scares…
Does your Doctor do Christmas?
Well, he’s in the Christmas edition! I don’t think he particularly favours Christmas or is particularly interested in it. It’s a very jolly episode but it ’s also very scary. They’ve got a really good mix of the frightening and the festive, which is quite difficult to pull off. I think it ’s in the tradition of festive ghost stories. There’s something about the festive season that triggers some kind of supernatural fear or belief, something quite pagan. They have Santa Claus in it, but it ’s the real Santa Claus. We don’t reveal that he’s a robot or a monster or an alien being or whatever. He is the actual real deal, and it ’s not in a bogus fashion. It’s very clever how they’ve managed to pull it off.
The Doctor Who Christmas specials are a tradition now. How did it feel making your first?
It is, of course, weird doing the whole thing of having snow and Christmas lights and Christmas trees in September, because your body does respond to it. You just start to feel Christmassy. You think, “Oh god, have I done my shopping?” It’s very, very powerful, all that. The worst thing about it is that you have so much snow but what you don’t see is that the snow machines that make all that snow are incredibly noisy. They sound like the oldest boiler you’ve ever heard in your life, clattering and battering away. And you know that you’re going to be in the studio rerecording all the dialogue, which is what we ended up doing. But it was lovely.
Nick Frost told us he was the one man who could make you corpse on this series. Was it a daily struggle?
Yes, because I don’t really corpse very much, but he’s so brilliant and so funny and he just started to make me laugh. And then of course once he knew he could make me laugh it was a nightmare. So every opportunity he took he would do something else to make me laugh. So there’s lots of outtakes of me literally hiding behind monsters when I shouldn’t be laughing – in a very serious scene with very frightening things going on, hiding behind monsters’ heads. He’s brilliant. I’m a big fan of his. He’s a great presence to have and he’s just such a hugely gifted comic actor.
The last episode ended with the Doctor and Clara deciding they didn’t want to travel with each other. How does their relationship fare?
There’s a dilemma that appears which the Doctor has to solve. And she’s at the centre of it. So he has to find her again, and he has to help her. But it creates some profound changes in the relationship.
We’ve just seen the Master regenerate into Missy. Does that bring us closer to a female Doctor?
There easily could be a female Doctor. I think the next time might be a female Doctor. I don’t see why not. I think it ’s good to do that. I think with Missy that was just a great idea. You wanted to keep it a surprise and that was the best way to do it, but yes, it does suggest all kinds of interesting stuff. They have a total love/ hate relationship anyway but they were both men for a long time, and still have that love- hate relationship, and we will see more of that probably. It’s interesting, being able to swap like that. I think it ’s good.
You’re about to go into your second season. Do you feel more ownership of the part now?
I feel I know the environment I’m going into, which is good, but I don’t think you can ever relax because it ’s too important and it ’s too iconic. It needs attention. You can’t just leave it. You can’t just go “Oh, I know how to do this now”, because I don’t know how to do it. You just go in and you do your best but not with any great plan. And so I can’t relax and say “I’m there now”, because I’m not. And that would also be dull, to say we’ve figured this out. You can’t figure it out. You’ve got to just keep at it, keep seeing where it can go.