COMIC-CON SPECIAL — DOCTOR WHO
Peter Capaldi (and friends) reflects on the 12th Doctor’s wildest adventures
Peter Capaldi waves goodbye to his signature role. Not a dry eye in the TARDIS.
PETER CAPALDI’S DOCTOR still has one journey to make: the Christmas special airing this December. But with Jodie Whittaker confirmed as the next occupant of the TARDIS, it’s the end of an era for both Capaldi and showrunner Steven Moffat, who got to navigate through time and space together for just over three years. As they prepared to bid farewell to thousands of fans at Comic-con, we sat them down together, plus guest writer and Christmas special co-star Mark Gatiss, to hear their memories of some key Capaldi episodes.
DEEP BREATH (SERIES 8, EPISODE 1) In which the freshly formed 12th Doctor is startled by his new, craggier face. Specifically the “attack eyebrows”.
Capaldi: Steven is a hugely gifted writer, obviously, but one of his quirks is that he loves to put in cheeky remarks that he would never say to your face. Matt Smith was blessed by the gods with a generous chin. So Steven liked to have
the companions make remarks about ‘Chin Boy’. With me it was the eyebrows.
Moffat: Matt actually came around to my house when he was first being cast as the Doctor and my son Louie, who was tiny, went, “You’ve got a big chin.” Matt said, “I like to think of it as a square jaw.” And he said, “No, it’s big.” I think your eyebrows are very funny.
Capaldi: He also described me as running like a penguin with his ass on fire. Which I do.
MUMMY ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (SERIES 8, EPISODE 8) The Doctor goes full Poirot and solves a murder mystery on a moving locomotive.
Capaldi: I love the episode because it was the first time my Doctor was revealed to be quite heroic. You discover that he’d put himself in the position of being consumed by the mummy, which I thought was very brave. The monster was great too.
Moffat: I said at the meeting, “Forget all the mummy movies — they get it right in Scooby-doo.”
Capaldi: Monsters tend to smell of sweat, but he actually smelled of talcum powder, which was nice.
Gatiss: Who’s to say that mummies didn’t talc?
SLEEP NO MORE (SERIES 9, EPISODE 9) The Doctor winds up on a space station that’s been orbiting Neptune, plagued by Sandmen — creatures made of sleepy-dust. Gatiss: I feel like found-footage horror has been a bit overdone, but not on television. The constraints of it were fascinating: everything has to be from someone’s point of view.
Capaldi: If you look really closely at the corridors in the episode, the bottoms are lined with this mechanical-looking thing. I examined it on set and it turned out to be Ikea cutlery drawers. They’d obviously bought 20 of them and screwed them on. I love that stuff.
HEAVEN SENT (SERIES 9, EPISODE 11) A one-man show of an episode, in which the Doctor is trapped in a mysterious castle on a seemingly endless time-loop.
Moffat: I was watching Peter holding court one day and thought, “You could spend 55 minutes with the Doctor just talking to himself.”
Gatiss: I remember you saying it was the most ridiculous read-through there’s ever been. We could have done it in a hotel room.
Moffat: It was just Peter acting and me barking the stage directions. So two middle-aged Scotsmen shouting at each other for an hour, with a bunch of people watching.
Gatiss: Like Glasgow High Street at two in the morning.
WORLD ENOUGH AND TIME (SERIES 10, EPISODE 11) In which the Mondasian Cybermen return — and the characters debate whether the Doctor’s real name is ‘Doctor Who’.
Moffat: If you’re going to take continuity seriously, as anyone who discusses these matters must, his name is Doctor Who. It was absolutely mentioned in [1966 four-parter] The War Machines. Twice. Capaldi: Also, you know, people don’t shout, “The Doctor!” at you in the street. They go, “Hey, Doctor Who! Where’s your TARDIS?” I love calling him Doctor Who. It noises people up.
Moffat: It’s the first article of faith for fans, isn’t it? Go around the playground condemning yourself to virginity for a few decades by saying, “Actually, it’s the Doctor...” TWICE UPON A TIME The yet-to-be-aired final instalment, in which Capaldi’s Doctor meets his very first iteration, before finally regenerating.
Moffat: We’ve finished shooting it, but really, really recently. It’s still a work in progress.
Capaldi: I couldn’t have wanted for a more moving and emotional end to my time as Doctor Who. It is strange doing [the regeneration scene], but in a way you’ve been practising all your life to collapse on the floor of the TARDIS. Or whatever happens! And we had a whole day to do it, which was nice.
Gatiss: It’s amazing, you can see the footage of [fourth Doctor] Tom Baker turning into [fifth Doctor] Peter Davidson — it was literally like a minute ten that they had to do it. It was an extraordinary contrast: a day to do it, versus, “Get in! Do it!” TWICE UPON A TIME AIRS ON BBC ONE ON 25 DECEMBER
Clockwise from left: A change is gonna come for Steven Moffat, Peter Capaldi and Mark Gatiss; The Doctor and Clara (Jenna Coleman) in ‘Sleep No More’; The Doctor with his first incarnation (David Bradley) in this year's Christmas special, ‘Twice Upon A Time’.