New 'Doctor Who': It's Peter Capaldi
Brian Truitt, USA TODAY
The Scottish-born actor becomes the 12th actor to play the British sci-fi icon.
Executive producer Steven Moffat had considered Capaldi when they were casting the 11th Doctor. "There comes a right time for the right person to play it," he said."We all had the same idea and it was a quite different idea," Moffat added. When he and his team made a video with Capaldi, "everybody saw it and was like, 'That's the Doctor.' "
American audiences most recently saw Capaldi as a World Health Organization doctor in the movie World War Z, and he also has big-screen roles in the upcoming The Fifth Estate this fall and next year's Maleficent.
The half-hour live special on BBC America, hosted by British TV personality Zoe Ball, also featured past Who stars, including Peter Davison, the fifth Doctor (1981-84).
"In a way it's the longest job in television. It's a whirlwind time when you do it, and it keeps on going after," said Davison, whose daughter is married to the 10th Doctor, Tennant.Smith recalled that people initially met his casting with backlash, but fans ultimately came around for him as the Doctor.
"There are no parts like this," he said. "I loved it, I'll miss it, but when you gotta go, you gotta go."
Doctor Who has long been a hit in the U.K., but more recently the Doctor has gained a huge following in the USA, with the show becoming the highest-rated series on BBC America.
Capaldi will make his first appearance in the Doctor Who Christmas Special at the end of 2013, and it marks Smith's final jaunt as the Doctor. Fans get to see him one more time, though, when Smith stars with Jenna Coleman, John Hurt and Tennant in the 50th anniversary special airing on Nov. 23.
The main reason the series is still a fixture in global pop culture is because of anybody who's ever watched it, Capaldi said. "Doctor Who belongs to all of us. Everybody makes Doctor Who."
Actor Peter Capaldi has been announced as the new star of BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who.
The 55-year-old Glasgow-born star will be the 12th actor to play the Doctor, replacing outgoing lead Matt Smith.
Capaldi is best known for his role as foul-mouthed spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker in the BBC series The Thick of It.
"It's so wonderful not to keep this secret any longer, but it's been so fantastic," he said after the news was revealed on a live BBC One show.
The actor had been the bookmakers' favourite to take on the role, with betting on him becoming the next Doctor suspended on Friday.
It is not the first time Capaldi has appeared on the show - he played Roman merchant Caecilius in 2008 Doctor Who adventure The Fires of Pompeii.
At 55, he is the same age as William Hartnell when he was cast in the role as the first Doctor in 1963.
"Being asked to play the Doctor is an amazing privilege. Like the Doctor himself I find myself in a state of utter terror and delight. I can't wait to get started," he said.
Steven Moffat, the show's lead writer and executive producer, said casting Capaldi as the Doctor was an "incendiary combination".
"One of the most talented actors of his generation is about to play the best part on television."
Moffat said Capaldi had been cast after a secret audition at his house.
"We made a home video of [Capaldi] being the doctor and I showed it around and everyone said 'yes, that's the Doctor'.
Moffat added the actor had "briefly flicked through my mind" the last time he was casting the role, but he did not think he was right for the part, however "now that moment has arrived".
Capaldi said he downloaded old Doctor Who scripts from the internet and practised the lines in front of a mirror to prepare for the audition.
He revealed he was filming a BBC adaptation of The Three Musketeers in Prague when he found out he got the part.
"I had my phone on silent so I missed the call," he said. "It was my agent and I rang her up and she said 'hello Doctor' - I haven't stopped laughing since."
Outgoing Doctor Matt Smith welcomed Capaldi's casting, who pre-recorded a message for the new Time Lord.
"I wish my successor all the best and say good luck and good on you for getting it, because I know he's both a huge fan of the show and a really nice guy," he said.
"The casting made me ready excited and as a fan I think it's a canny choice. If I had to pick someone, I'd pick him because I think he's great. I'm excited because I know what's coming and he's going to have a blast."
Jenna Coleman, who stars as current Doctor Who companion Clara, said: "I'm so excited Peter Capaldi is the man taking on the challenge of becoming the 12th Doctor.
"With Steven's writing and his talent I know we'll be making an amazing show with an incredible incarnation of number 12. I can't wait to start this new adventure."
Ben Stephenson, controller of BBC Drama Commissioning said Capaldi was "an extraordinarily talented actor who can seemingly turn his hand to anything".
"We can't wait to premiere his unique take on the Doctor on Christmas Day and we are sure he's going to become one of the all-time classic Doctors."
Following the announcement, The Thick of It writer Armando Ianucci tweeted: "There can't be a funnier, wiser, more exciting Time Lord than Peter Capaldi. The universe is in great hands."
Capaldi will film his first scenes on the series this autumn