Who News! Neil Gaiman Reveals a Black Actor Almost Became The Doctor, Clever and Unified Regeneration Theory, Peter Capaldi’s ‘Doctor Who’ Fanart, & More!
Somehow, the internet managed to avoid imploding when the news of the 12th Doctor was announced simultaneously on BBC One and BBC America. Or maybe it did, I don’t know, I was out of town and missed most of Who-pla. Since then, I’ve been playing catch up on all the developments surrounding this latest incarnation of the Time Lord, and I figured, why not share my findings with all of you fine readers. So, here we go.
First, Neil Gaiman recently shared his thoughts on the casting of Peter Capaldi as the next Doctor on his Tumblr. Collected here (by Bleeding Cool) are a few of his comments on the matter of a female Doctor and the casting of an actor of color in the role, even hinting a black actor had been offered the role but turned it down!
Do I think it’s time to cast a woman as the Doctor? Not yet. Not quite…
…if I were show-running (I’m not) I wouldn’t cast a woman as the Doctor yet, and it would absolutely be on my list of things to do in the following regeneration. (I was the one who wrote the line about the Corsair changing gender on regeneration, in “The Doctor’s Wife” after all, and made it canon that Time Lords can absolutely change gender when they regenerate.)
Some of that is stuff I’d find hard to articulate, mostly having to do with what kind of Doctor you follow Matt Smith’s Doctor with: someone harder and much older and more dangerous and, yes, male feels right to me, as a storyteller. Where you go after that, ah, that’s a whole new game…
It doesn’t have to feel like that to you, nor am I telling you what to think. We’re talking stories here, and opinions after all, and your opinions are, obviously, as valid as mine.
Would I like a person of colour as the Doctor? Absolutely. Paterson Joseph was the Marquis de Carabas in Neverwhere, because he aced the auditions, and beat all the other actors, mostly white, who tried out for the role. I’d want that kind of performance at the audition for the Doctor. And there are certainly actors good enough out there that it feels like a missed opportunity. Does that mean I’m disappointed by Peter? No, just excited to see what kind of Doctor he makes….
(I thought I’d said that I was disappointed that it didn’t happen this time, and that there are some amazing actors out there. I was rather disappointed that Paterson Joseph didn’t get it last time, although I’ve loved Matt’s Eleven) And yes, I have no doubt there will be. (I know one black actor who was already offered the part of the Doctor, and who turned it down.) Just as there will be a female Doctor…
Interesting, no? Is Gaiman hinting at a woman Doctor for the next regeneration? She could be the bridge between The Doctor’s original 12 regenerations (a rule from way back in Classic Who) and where the series goes in the future. And it’s good to hear I’m not the only one who, while excited for Capaldi’s Doctor, am a little disappointed to see another “old white guy” in the role. What do you think?
Hit the jump to hear from The Moff on introducing a new Doctor, a theory that tries to explain the choices for each Doctor’s regeneration, and some 4th Doctor fanart from a young, and not yet the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi!
This isn’t the first time Steven Moffat‘s introduced the world to a new Doctor, but it could easily be the flashiest. I mean, come on, a prime time reveal show! That’s pretty impressive for a weird, little sci-fi show like Doctor Who. And technically, the reveal show wasn’t our first introduction to the 12th Doctor, that will come later in Capaldi’s first episode.
The biggest pressure will always be introducing a new Doctor. And I can’t imagine it will ever be tougher than with “The Eleventh Hour” because everything changed. It’s not an ideal way to run television. It really isn’t. That was mad. All the execs left, the producer left, and all the stars left. You think, “Christ, how do you get away with that?!
We’re not in that situation this time, and it’s good that we’re not. People say, “It must have been great and exciting and marvelous that you had all that new stuff,” but not really. But, we got away with it. I just remember thinking, “Are people going to buy that this is the same show, when it clearly is not?”
And what of keeping a regeneration a secret? Yeah, not bloody likely,
I’d love to, but that’s physically impossible. It was Russell’s plan not to tell anyone that Chris [Eccleston] was going to change in the last episode, but it leaked after one week. I wish it were possible. The fact is that those actors’ agents have to say that they’re available. They have to take jobs. It’s going to leak, so you have to take command of that story.
It’s annoying. I’d far rather not tell anybody anything, seriously. If you’re telling a joke, you don’t want anybody telling the punchline before you get to the end. Sadly, I don’t think it’s possible now. Everybody wanders around with cameras now. A few years ago, no one had a camera on them. Now, every little human being goes around with a camera on their phone. How am I going to keep secrets with that?! It’s tough. It can be irritating, but what can you do?
Spoilers, spoilers everywhere. I don’t know how a TV series or movie ever manage to keep anything quiet. And I guess, more and more now they don’t. Which is how we end up with prime time reveal specials.
And speaking of regenerations, io9’s Rob Bricken has laid out a very sensible theory as to why the series’ has chosen the actors they have for The Doctor since Doctor Who returned in 2005. I’ll leave it to Rob to explain, as he already did so, brilliantly,
Okay. I have a theory, but it requires me going back to the beginning of the nu-Who in order to explain.
So Russell T. Davies relaunches Doctor Who in 2005. People, if they remember Doctor Who at all, remember the character as a old man — sometimes stodgy, sometimes fussy, sometimes eccentric. Davis wants to not only modernize Who for modern audiences, but also wants to shock people into watching the show, to give them a Doctor they’re surprised by. Which is why he casts Chris Eccleston as a leather jacket-wearing Doctor, one ready to throw down and scrap when the situation calls for it.
Eccleston leaves, and Davies needs a new Doctor. He’s established that Doctor Who can be cool, so what’s next? He wants people to love the Doctor again like they used to back in the day. The solution is a Doctor that’s likable, affable, charismatic, and, most importantly, more human than any Doctor has been before. He’s casts Tennant perfectly, and his charismatic performance helps turn Doctor Who into a phenomenon again.
So then Stephen Moffat comes on board, and Doctor Who has been cool and lovable again. What’s next? To make the Doctor weird again. The old Doctors had an edge to them, where you weren’t quite certain you could trust them, and Moffat figures — rightly, in my opinion — that the Doctor needs both his eccentricity and that edge again, now that Tennant has done the necessary job of recementing the character in popular culture. Matt Smith’s Doctor is weird and wacky and odd and definitely has that edge.
Which brings us to the present and Peter Capaldi. With the previous incarnations, the Doctor has been cool, human and weird. What’s left? What would Moffat want modern audiences to see the Doctor as next? What aspect of the Doctor would Moffat want to bring back out?
The answer, as it turns out, is that he’s old. The Doctor is several centuries old, and he’s weary, and he’s seen a ton. Smith has done a great job at indicating this, despite his youth, but it doesn’t change the fact that all three Doctors since the relaunch have been reasonably young guys. The one thing the modern incarnation of the Doctor lacks is that visual indication of age and wisdom and authority, something only an older guy like Capaldi can bring. Capaldi would have been a disaster as the Ninth Doctor, because modern audiences would have felt that the new Doctor Who was simply more of the same old stuff that had initially caused people to lose interest. But after establishing the Doctor’s coolness, his likability, and his weirdness, you can go back to an old dude to stress the Doctor’s experience — and with that, I think you’ve completed the picture, and revealed the full Doctor to modern audiences.
And at that point, as Gaiman suggests, you can do anything. You’ve truly brought Doctor Who back in its entirety, you’ve gotten people to watch and revealed the Doctor’s character fully. When Capaldi leaves, you can do anything. Female Doctors. Black Doctors. Asian Doctors. Child Doctors. Anybody Doctors.
Such is my theory. I may be overthinking it, and I may be overestimating the reasons behind the casting, but even if it wasn’t intentional I think it still has the same effect. I think this is why Neil Gaiman feels like a female Doctor would be more effective after Capaldi’s Doctor, and I think I agree. Would the world have ended if Ruth Wilson had been cast as the new Doctor? By no means, but I can see a certain benefit to waiting one more incarnation. Of course, if the next Doctor is another white dude, then we should all probably freak the fuck out.
I’m sold. Are you?
And lastly, some of you may be unfamiliar with Peter Capaldi before his casting as 12th Doctor. Well, you’ve got nothing to worry about, the guy’s a HUGE Whovian! Maybe the biggest one they’ve cast, yet! Need proof? Look no further than his 4th Doctor fanart, his fanzine essay praising the series’ opening title sequence, and his fan letter in the Radio Times celebrating the show’s 10th anniversary,
True devotion to the series aside, what do you think of Capaldi as the 12th Doctor? Excited? Nervous? Are you dreading Matt Smith’s departure or are you eagerly looking forward to it?
Oh! And how I could not share this final gem. Most of Britain, and soon the world I’m guessing, will be familiar with Capaldi as the foul-mouthed, government spin master, Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It. Knowing this, YouTuber Peter Nottage has created an incredibly funny trailer for the 12th Doctor using some of Capaldi’s more “colorful” clips from The Thick of It.
Definitely NSFW, but seriously very, very funny. Enjoy.