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Peter Capaldi explains why playing Doctor Who wasn’t always ‘fun’

‘There aren’t a lot of people who have been in the centre of that storm,’ actor said

Jacob Stolworthy
Monday 15 January 2024 09:49 GMT
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Criminal Record - trailer

Peter Capaldi has explained why he often struggled being the face of BBC series Doctor Who.

The Scottish Thick of It actor, who is currently starring in Apple TV+ drama Criminal Record, played the Time Lord for three series and four specials between 2013 and 2017, replacing Matt Smith in the role.

In a new interview, Capaldi has reflected on having “a laugh” and a “gossip” with his fellow actors to have played the role, including Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Jodie Whitaker, but said that, contrary to popular belief, playing the Doctor is not all fun and games.

“You do run into each other,” he told The Observer, adding: “You have a laugh, a gossip, you share. There aren’t a lot of people who have been in that role in the centre of that storm. Most people think the job is being on the Tardis and running around with Daleks. Which it is. That’s the fun part.

“But there’s a lot of other stuff you have to do, too. You’re kind of the face of the brand and the brand is very big”

Capaldi said that, while being in the show, he couldn’t “be the cynical melancholic” he “naturally” is.

“You have to pretend to be a version of yourself that’s far more amenable,” he continued, agreeing with the sentiment that it’s “a bit like being the Queen”.

“Kind of. You embody for a time this folk hero, this icon. I was able to comfort people in a way that would be beyond the powers of Peter. You could walk into a room and people gasped with delight. It doesn’t happen any more.”

The actor also discussed another of his most famous roles – Malcolm Tucker, the foul-mouthed spin doctor in Armando Iannucci’s sitcom The Thick of It – and poured water on the idea of a reboot due to the current political climate.

“I think these [recent Conservative] governments have been too terrible to make fun of. I think they’ve been incompetent and corrupt and I’m not going to make jokes to give them time off.”

Peter Capaldi in new series ‘Criminal Record’ (Apple TV+)

Capaldi stars in Criminal Record alongside Cush Jumbo, best known for her role in The Good Wife. The London-set series follows two detectives in a tug of war over a historic murder conviction.

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