Peter Ca­PalDI says good­bye to the blue box as the twelfth Doc­tor bows out. “He’s made of star­dust,” he tells Joseph McCabe

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The at­tack eye­brows tell us about the 12th Doc­tor’s last stand.

there are bound to be a lot of tearS when you re­gen­er­ate…

Ah, well, in in my house, cer­tainly (laughs).

how did you feel maK­ing your fi­nal Story?

It’s sad, you know. It’s right. Be­cause you just reach a point where it’s time to go. But it doesn’t mean that you’re not melan­cholic about leav­ing be­hind both the crew and the peo­ple who you work with, who you’ve be­come very close with, but also this won­der­ful, won­der­ful role. But as of­ten hap­pens, the script ac­tu­ally ar­tic­u­lates those feel­ings bet­ter than I could. You will see how I feel, be­cause hope­fully it’ll be there in the show.

what’S the big­geSt leS­Son the doC­tor haS learned in thiS re­gen­er­a­tion?

Noth­ing. Be­cause he’s not hu­man. The Doc­tor has a knowl­edge of the past and the fu­ture. He feels echoes and rip­ples through time and space. He knows what is go­ing to hap­pen. He knows what hu­man be­ings are, what they do, where they go, what be­comes of them. So he play-acts at be­ing sur­prised. He play-acts be­ing present in that mo­ment with­out fore­knowl­edge. He knows. So he doesn’t learn. He knows already. He has noth­ing to learn.

iS it tough Play­ing a role where the Char­aC­ter doeSn’t learn? Yeah. what’S the Chal­lenge of that?

The chal­lenge is they mustn’t know. They all have to think that you are a hu­manoid. But he’s not. In some way he closes off that part of him that is a Time Lord. If you could travel through time and space, you know what’s go­ing on. You know what’s hap­pen­ing. But if you close that part of your­self off, you may have a more in­ter­est­ing life. Or…

more joy and SPon­tane­ity?

Yeah. I think peo­ple are wrong to in­ter­pret him as a hu­man be­ing. So for me that’s the kind of in­ter­nal bal­ance I try and strug­gle with. Be­cause when I first saw Doc­tor Who as a kid I knew he wasn’t a guy. He wasn’t some­one you would bump into. He came from some­where up there beyond, and he knows more than we do, and he’s made of star­dust. But that’s the kind of great thing about the char­ac­ter — he’s also very real. It’s try­ing to bal­ance those two things that is quite hard.

what’S hiS re­la­tion­ShiP with the firSt doC­tor?

Peo­ple think they’re sim­i­lar, but they’re not very sim­i­lar. One of the things that is firmly dif­fer­ent about them is that they come from dif­fer­ent Earth times. So the First Doc­tor comes from the ’60s and my Doc­tor comes from the 21st cen­tury. So we have a lot of fun in the dif­fer­ent at­ti­tudes. It’s be­ing play­ful with the fact that it’s also a tele­vi­sion char­ac­ter, and it’s a tele­vi­sion char­ac­ter from a cer­tain time. So we don’t shy away from the fact that we’re from dif­fer­ent ends of the Doc­tor Who pro­gramme’s life.

hav­ing reaChed the end of your run, haS it Changed your view of what it meanS to be the doC­tor?

I think there’ll never, ever be any­thing like this. Be­cause it’s a sort of phe­nom­e­non. When you travel around the world, as I’m very blessed to be able to do… If you go to rio and you meet kids there who to me ap­pear to be in a very, very dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment from the very com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ments I see in some of my other trav­els, and see how much they love the show, you start think­ing, This is quite fun. There’s some­thing in­side the show that speaks to peo­ple and to kids at a very deep level. I don’t know what it is. I don’t un­der­stand what it is. But I see it, be­cause I’ve seen it with my own eyes, the af­fec­tion and love that peo­ple all over the world have for Doc­tor Who.

To be around some­thing like that and to be at the cen­tre of it is an ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ence. Be­cause I’ve also walked into rooms and peo­ple have gasped. Be­cause it’s the Doc­tor. It’s still me in­side here, but I have this im­mense gift of be­ing able to see what that feels like. So yeah, it makes you re­alise how vi­tal pop­u­lar cul­ture can be to peo­ple, and also that it can be a force for good. I think Doc­tor Who is a good thing in the world. Be­cause it preaches lessons of kind­ness and courage and in­tel­li­gence that are much needed.

what do you thinK will be next after you fin­iSh Play­ing the doC­tor?

I don’t know. Van­ish­ing. Van­ish­ing for a while… Se­ri­ously, I don’t know. I think I’ll take a lit­tle while just to process all of this and fig­ure out what I want to do re­ally. What kind of per­former or artist I want [to be]. Maybe I’ll con­cen­trate on my mu­sic (laughs)

the brav­ery to turn around and be some­body else, to let go of ev­ery part of him­self he’s shored up against the rest of the uni­verse, to scat­ter it and dis­cover the Doc­tor anew? How does he do that? As ever we are solv­ing a fairly major staffing dif­fi­culty!

multi-doC­tor Sto­rieS are al­wayS eventS. re­gen­er­a­tion Sto­rieS are al­wayS eventS. how do you Slam the two thingS to­gether with­out ex­Plod­ing with Pure even­tineSS?

I’m not sure ex­plod­ing with pure even­tiness is some­thing we nat­u­rally re­sist on Doc­tor

Who. That’s not a bad thing to have. On Christmas Day you do want a bit of even­tiness. But there’s also a prob­lem – the new Doc­tor turns up at the end. That’s the big deal. There’s no question that you are wait­ing for the last minute. So what are you go­ing to do be­fore that? Quite a good so­lu­tion to that is to say “Well, here’s David Bradley as the First Doc­tor. Maybe we can en­ter­tain you enough that you al­most for­get where this is head­ing.”

So why the firSt doC­tor?

This is all on video. You can ac­tu­ally see me think of this idea. I was asked “Which Doc­tor would you like to meet Peter Ca­paldi’s Doc­tor?” And ob­vi­ously the an­swer to that is Wil­liam Hart­nell, be­cause he’s the big­gest ex­treme. He’s the fur­thest back. What a gulf to see him­self across. That would be amaz­ing – his old-fash­ioned re­ac­tion to the swag­ger­ing ma­niac he’s des­tined to be­come would be very funny. But I said “We can’t do it, be­cause Wil­liam Hart­nell’s dead.” Peter, who was sit­ting next to me, said “Just get David Bradley!” And I go, “Oh yeah! That’s Christmas sorted!” I think you ac­cept David Bradley as the First Doc­tor be­cause one, he does look very like him and two, he’s sanc­ti­fied by hav­ing already done An Ad­ven­ture In Space And

Time. We’ve already said that if you turned an HD colour cam­era on Wil­liam Hart­nell, oddly enough he looks like David Bradley.

how doeS the firSt doC­tor SParK off the twelfth?

He has some in­cred­i­bly old-fash­ioned at­ti­tudes that were nor­mal and invisible at the time. Now they sort of stick out at you. You can ei­ther ig­nore that, the way we’re ig­nor­ing it was 4:3 and black-and-white in those days, or you can em­brace it. That’s ac­tu­ally the story of the Doc­tor when he was still mostly a Time Lord. He’s im­pe­ri­ous and com­mand­ing and op­er­ates un­der the as­sump­tion he out­ranks ev­ery­body he ever meets. That later soft­ens un­der a man of the peo­ple ve­neer – woman of the peo­ple, shortly – but with the First Doc­tor it’s all out there. He’s an en­ti­tled, priv­i­leged, posh white man! And it was quite fun to have the Twelfth Doc­tor tell him, “Oh, don’t say that…”

did you al­wayS Know you were go­ing to bring baCK bill PottS?

No. I was 20 pages into the script. It was go­ing quite well but I thought, “I want Bill to wit­ness this. I want Bill to no­tice that they’re the same man. I want Bill to say things to him.”

you gave her a mem­o­rable exit in “the doC­tor fallS”. were you wary of un­der­Cut­ting that by bring­ing her baCK So Soon?

She has a mem­o­rable exit but she’s still out there. The question is im­me­di­ately raised – what if they meet again? I think peo­ple are just bor­ing when they say, “Oh, you’ve un­der­cut that great exit.” Don’t you want Bill to come back and say funny things to Wil­liam Hart­nell? How much are you go­ing to en­joy the ab­sence of en­ter­tain­ment? Oh, we could have had some funny lines here but we didn’t want to un­der­cut that end­ing… For­get that un­der­cut­ting! For­get that last episode! It’s over, isn’t it? Let’s get some fun go­ing now!

when you firSt be­Came Showrun­ner i aSKed how rad­i­Cal you Could be with doC­tor who. you Said “well, we Could al­wayS CaSt a woman…”

I guess I al­ways thought it was com­ing. I didn’t be­lieve it would be now. At con­ven­tions I al­ways used to ask, “Would you like it? Ir­re­spec­tive of your per­sonal pol­i­tics, ir­re­spec­tive of fem­i­nism. Put your hand up. You will not be judged.” Maybe a third used to put their hands up and say they liked it. Then it was nearer a half. Then it started to be­come a ma­jor­ity. And I thought, “This is mov­ing. This is chang­ing.”

A meet­ing be­tween two Doc­tors, past and present.

Two Doc­tors means a clash of opin­ions and ide­ol­ogy.

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