Doctor Who: A Tale of Two Peters

Christopher Morley compares the two Peters, Davison and Capaldi, and discovers they have a lot more in common than you may first think.

While their Doctors seemingly couldn't be more different - the Fifth arguably the most ' human' of the lot, just as fallible as those he attempted to save, while the Twelfth has spent much of his time so far heading ' into darkness' and having been presented as the most alien of the Time Lord's incarnations - the Peters who play them, Davison & Capaldi respectively, have more in common than you might think.

To start with their Birthday's are just a day apart, Davison born April 13th 1951 and Capaldi the following day seven years later, and neither of them were unknown when they signed on to play the Time Lord.

Before being chosen to replace Tom Baker as the Doctor in 1981, the senior Peter was best known to the viewing public as Tristan Farnon of All Creatures Great & Small...

His most recent successor in the TARDIS might well know the feeling. From the moment his name was announced, much was made of the fact that Malcolm Tucker is now the Doctor...

Of course he was also in The Fires Of Pompeii...

But to focus on just these two roles would be grossly unfair! He's also portrayed Cardinal Richelieu in the recent BBC series The Musketeers. Away from all that he's shown off what a few years at art school taught him...

Switching back to the elder Peter we shouldn't forget that he was one of the prime movers behind Button Moon - it was he who wrote and sang the theme tune!

We can only speculate how it would have gone down had the Fifth Doctor arrived for a visit to Mr Spoon and chums. He's also later popped up in Law & Order...

Both our two similarly Christian-named Doctors also have at least some experience behind the camera. It was Davison who was the prime mover behind The Five (Ish) Doctors Reboot, while Capaldi has done similar with Franz Kafka's Its A Wonderful Life (bagging an Oscar in the process), Strictly Sinatra, Born To Be King alongside several others including 1993's Soft Top, Hard Shoulder ( 'audience award' winner at the London Film Festival)...

Is it too much of a stretch to wonder if he might try to flex his muscle into writing/directing for his Doctor in future Who?

Would it work? Inevitably the answer to that would be 'try it & see'. Whether Steven Moffat and indeed the other writers would be willing to allow Capaldi to muscle in on their territory could be up for debate, though. Indeed the idea most likely already has been discussed in pubs/forums the length and breath of the country/Internet!

We might also throw in the idea of Davison directing Capaldi- the Reboot might have convinced Moffat to allow 'his' Doctor a chance behind the scenes. It seems Davison might also be open to the prospect, going by his admiration for the 'new' series and various gripes regarding his 'classic' period-
"There were some very suspect scripts we did, knocked off by TV writers who'd turn their hand to anything. Fair enough, but they weren't science fiction fans. You do get the impression, both with the television series now and Big Finish, that they are fans of science fiction and that's why they are doing those stories."
Consider also-
"They were struggling for many years to make the companions more rounded characters and... they never once thought it was a good idea to put any frisson or sexual tension - even in its most innocent form - between the Doctor and companion. I think it would make it easier to write a better character. All I know is they've struggled for many years to write a good companion's part. I don't think they've ever really managed it till Rose, when the series came back."
Praise indeed, he certainly seems on board with the style of the modern series, maybe his comments are subliminally saying 'give us a job, Moffat'!

There's a case for the argument that his performances from Castrovalva to The Caves Of Androzani left quite a mark in front of the camera, too! Just one look at Time Crash (incidentally featuring another Who/Law & Order alumnus in the form of Freema Agyeman), should leave the viewer in no doubt as to just who David Tennant looked to for inspiration in his portrayal of the Tenth Doctor, five bodies after the man who'd later become his father in law.

Plus they're both handy with a cricket ball!...

No doubt it helped that advice was only ever a phone call away once the Doctor had got himself into a relationship with the woman who played his daughter, who's another Doctor's daughter! At which rate family gatherings must get incredibly confusing.

But now that we've seen Peter the Younger's first series as the Twelfth Doctor unfold, what more similarity/difference have we found between the man he was and his current self? Their wardrobes certainly offer some clues as to the character of their incarnations of the Time Lord.

Peter the Elder's Fifth went for the village cricketer look, something he suggested himself, and what could that tell us about him? The sport by itself is intrinsically English, and we could make the case for a sense of fair play- surely a decent summing-up of the younger Doctor's make-up/values? Perhaps this extract from Victorian & Edwardian Sporting Values by Mona Dobre-Laza will help:
"Pluck and fair-play in combination were the characteristics of the gentleman both on the sports ground and, indeed, in life itself. Winning was not the goal; competing with honour and upholding team spirit most definitely was."
After all, undoubtedly more than any of his past/future selves the Fifth Doctor was plagued by self-doubt and didn't always win the day, but there's no doubt he valued his first 'team' of Adric, Nyssa & Tegan as well as later additions/replacements Turlough & Peri - dying to save her must rank pretty highly as a moment of self-sacrifice?

Meanwhile his starkly-dressed latest incarnation remains something of an enigma. Is he a good man? He and we can't say we're really any closer to a definitive answer to that question. After all - did the Half-Face Man jump, or was he pushed? And then there's that whole '' its not my moon'' business- a mindset as interchangeable as the various permutations of his given costume!

'The Magician' look with an array of different shirts appears as if it's now giving way to something of a 'hoodie' style, and interestingly, just like Peter the Elder, much of the Twelfth Doctor's fashion sense comes via the man playing the character, as Steven Moffat's revealed to SFX last year...
"[Peter Capaldi] wanted to be quite stark, Stark and skinny. A stick-insect sort of thing. Clara actually calls him a grey-haired stick insect at one point. We had some hilarious pictures of Peter just dressing up. It was all coming from him because he's really into his clothes. I didn't feel qualified to go and chat too much about it. Certainly the costume didn't go anywhere until I shut up. The thing I've learned about showrunning is you need to know the bits you're bad at!"
That's just for starters!
"Oddly enough in [series 8], for whatever reason, he seems to be wearing different outfits far more often than the Doctor normally does. He's got his basic outfit but he's in a spacesuit in one of them, and he's a caretaker in another one and then he's all dressed up in a later episode. He does vary it a bit.
And he mixes up the basic costume, hugely. We've tended to see the white shirt version in public but actually the one I like best is when he wears the jumper under his coat. I think he looks like a submarine commander, like an old sailor or something. It makes him all rugged and handsome!"
And so what of the future and series 9? Will we see more connections between Five and Twelve? Over to Moffat again for a brief tease...
"[In series 8] I was looking for the Capaldi moments every episode, saying ‘We need a Capaldi moment, that moment where he’s not Matt Smith, he’s not David Tennant, where he’s a dangerous, unpredictable, volatile character’. So now, having done that, and having blasted our new Doctor at them, we can go other places with him."
Could those "other places" include a trip to the 'cricket club' room deep within the bowels of 'Sexy'? It was only ever glimped once, never to be seen again bar that brief cameo in Castrovalva...

Of course, the biggest surprise yet could be that Twelve shares a passion for the most gentle of English sports and now plans to take it up again as soon as possible! After all, substitute that tangerine for a ball made of cork & covered in leather and now you're talking cricket...

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