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DOCTOR WHO - Bring on Capaldi

With just 6 days to go Tom Pheby looks ahead to the era of the Twelfth Doctor.

The countdown is in full swing as talented actor and lifelong Doctor Who fan Peter Capaldi is about to emerge from that famous blue box. Much has been written and said about what sort of Doctor Capaldi will be and how he will fit into the iconic role. Of course it's fair to speculate and hypothesize on what to expect but Capaldi goes about his business with a quite calmness of someone who's seen it and done it all, so no doubt the performance will be solid, calculated and assured.

Steven Moffat continues with Scrooge like caution fearing that even a misplaced word may tip us the wink on what is about to come, and with the recent script leaks who can blame him. Sometimes though, it's not what Moffat says, it's what he doesn't say, or merely implies. At times it's like a game of poker, something the Moff clearly enjoys, although its irritating for the rest of us because we are annoyingly impatient when it comes to the Doctor.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that it's going to be a stark contrast from what has gone before and I for one think it was the only direction to head in. There might be a faction of Who fandom against casting an older actor in the title role, but no one raised an eyebrow when John Hurt recently appeared as the 'Grandad' in The Day of the Doctor. He was almost the perfect antidote to the youthful exuberance of Smith and Tennant and it's a pity that his visit to the show was so fleeting.

Capaldi has a great set of skills for the part, as adept at drama as he is at comedy, and I have to agree with the tight lipped Moffat that the soft Scottish accent will undoubtedly make everything seem as if it's life threatening.

As a writer, performer and director Peter Capaldi will have a great understanding of the entire process and as such will probably work closely with the Moff to establish this new incarnation rather quickly. But there's still a lot riding on this season, with a younger audience still pining for the outgoing Smith, who really caught the essence of the part and delivered a series of wonderful performances. I suspect that this Doctor will not be the bouncy, hand waving, floppy haired Geography teacher type, instead I expect a sharp intellect with script heavy banter delivered with a Scottish swagger and a hefty dollop of pomp.

There's no need for Capaldi to rummage through hours of footage from past incumbents for he has probably seen them all already. Instead I fancy he may well just use the first series of his reign to cement the part with his own particular set of skills and we may well have to wait until season 9 to see the full canvass.

But what of the rumors that he may hit the exit door which has been broadly touted since he took the role? Well I doubt that has any legs, Capaldi will want to explore the role in full and a solitary season will not afford him the chance to complete that to his own satisfaction. Likewise Moffat will want to avoid recasting as quickly as Russell T Davies had to do after Eccleston departed so dramatically, causing everyone involved to have a mental meltdown. No, I think he'll do three seasons, if not more. After all, he's not twitchy about being typecast as he already has so many other strings to his bow, and also due to the fact that he is well respected within the industry itself

I was rather hoping to avoid the old enemies for the first year of the new Doctor's run, but as we have already been subjected to numerous spoilers it would appear that the clunking, clonking Cybermen are about to do battle with the Time Lord again, and if rumors are correct them the Master is to return (hopefully Charles Dance), plus it appears we'll be seeing the Daleks in episode 2, and maybe they might just throw in Davros for good measure...

It appears that it's a tried and trusted format in that respect, once a new Doctor comes on board they get to put their wits against the foes of old to cement their place, something which I am still a bit skeptical about. I'm still waiting for a new villain to send a shiver down my spine, but new creations similar to those I've mentioned seem hard to come by.

We'll be getting a new TARDIS interior and we've already seen the sonic screwdriver in a dumbed down basic version (disappointed ! I did like Smith's telescopic effort), however I do like Capaldi's garb which tends to be something of a dandy tribute to the late Jon Pertwee. But all this stuff is incidental, it's about scripts and performance - that is what will ensure the shows success. Peter Capaldi has one aspect, whilst Steven Moffat will undoubtedly provide the other.

But just how long the show runner will want to continue with the demands of Doctor Who? Moffat freely admits that he is closer to the end than he is the beginning of his reign, and once Capaldi has become the Doctor in the public's imagination, then maybe he'll feel his work is done.

It's also been said that this new version of the Doctor will be darker, whether that manifests itself in a heartless and remorseless fashion has yet to be seen. After the Doctor's history of destroying his own species in the Time War and then reversing it completely, it's hard to believe that he will not have learnt anything from his past mistakes. If anything it may be a return to the Hinchcliffe and Holmes template, which was a brilliant era, full of atmospheric departures and menace.

August 23rd looms my fellow Whovians. Deep Breath is just 6 days away. I don't suppose for one moment that we are about to be massively disappointed in any shape or form. It's more likely that the new series will continue to flip everything we ever knew on its head and take us on new adventures of even greater complexity. It may amount to a lot of head scratching, but don't you just love it?

Can't wait to watch it. Can you?

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