Twelfth Doctor

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The Doctor
The Twelfth Doctor
Portrayed by Peter Capaldi
Tenure 25 December 2013–
First appearance "The Time of the Doctor"
Number of series 2
Appearances 14 stories (16 episodes)
Companions Clara Oswald
Preceded by Matt Smith (Eleventh Doctor)
Series Series 8 (2014)
Series 9 (2015)

The Twelfth Doctor is an incarnation of the Doctor, the protagonist of the BBC science fiction television programme Doctor Who. He is portrayed by Scottish actor Peter Capaldi.[1] Within the series' narrative, the Doctor is a time travelling, humanoid alien from a race known as the Time Lords. When the Doctor is critically injured, he can regenerate his body, and in doing so gain a new physical appearance, and with it a distinct new personality; this plot mechanism has allowed the Doctor to be portrayed by a series of actors over the decades since the programme's inception in 1963. Capaldi's portrayal of the Doctor is a spiky, brusque, contemplative, and pragmatic character who conceals his emotions in the course of making tough and sometimes ruthless decisions, this often leading him to question his character and the value of his travels.

Capaldi made his first, very brief appearance as the Doctor in the show's fiftieth anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor" (2013), as one of the thirteen incarnations of the Doctor who are summoned to save Gallifrey from destruction. Capaldi's first full appearance was at the end of the 2013 Christmas special "The Time of the Doctor".[2][3] He is accompanied in the eighth and ninth series by companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman).[4]


Peter Capaldi portrays the Twelfth Doctor

Matt Smith, who played the Eleventh Doctor, publicly announced his departure from Doctor Who on 1 June 2013.[5] Prior to the announcing of Capaldi as the next Doctor, there was extensive media speculation on the subject.[6] On 3 August 2013, bookmakers William Hill suspended betting when Capaldi became the five to six favourite to be cast.[7] Capaldi's casting was revealed on 4 August during a live broadcast on BBC One, titled Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor.[8] The live show was watched by an average of 6.27 million in the UK, and was also simulcast in the United States, Canada and Australia.[9]

While Capaldi was the first choice for the role, other actors were also approached in case Capaldi should turn the offer down. Ben Daniels, who was an early favourite following the announcement of Matt Smith's departure,[6] said that he had been approached with a view to assessing whether he would be interested in playing the Doctor, with his name remaining as a potential contender until just before the live BBC broadcast.[10]

Doctor Who head writer and executive producer Steven Moffat said that Capaldi "briefly flicked through [his] mind" while casting the Eleventh Doctor, but that he dismissed the idea, thinking he was not right for the part at the time.[3] Ben Stephenson, the BBC's drama commissioner, said that Capaldi was suggested months before the August revelation and that a secret audition was held at Moffat's home.[2] Capaldi prepared for the audition by downloading old Doctor Who scripts from the Internet and practising in front of a mirror. He discovered he had been given the part during filming for Adrian Hodges' The Musketeers in Prague; after missing a call from his agent, Capaldi rang back to be greeted with "Hello, Doctor!"[3] At 55 years old when originally cast, Capaldi was only a few months younger than William Hartnell (the First Doctor) was, when he was cast in the role,[3] and is the oldest actor since Hartnell to star as The Doctor[11] and the third oldest to portray the character.[12] Moffat felt that an older actor would work best following the youngest actor, as it would both provide a change and lessen comparisons. He commented, "I can absolutely believe that the strange old-young Matt Smith will turn into the strange young-old Peter Capaldi."[13]

Capaldi has previously appeared playing other roles in the Doctor Who franchise. He portrayed Lucius Caecilius Iucundus in the 2008 episode "The Fires of Pompeii" and John Frobisher in Children of Earth, the 2009 serial of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood.[3][14] Moffat has stated that he plans on explaining over time why there are three characters in the Doctor Who universe with the same appearance; his predecessor Russell T Davies had once explained to him a theory for the first two, and upon Capaldi's casting assured Moffat that the explanation would still work.[15] This situation was alluded to in "Deep Breath", when a confused Doctor is reminded of Caecilius when he examines his face in a mirror.[16] Capaldi's casting marks the second time an actor has previously appeared in the series and then been cast as an incarnation of the Doctor, the first being Colin Baker.

Capaldi briefly appears in the 50th anniversary special. Moffat stated that it was his "plan from the start" that all the Doctors would fly in to save Gallifrey, and he knew there would be a new one at that time. He wrote it before knowing who would be cast.[17] Capaldi filmed his appearance on 3 October 2013, long after principal photography for the special had ended, and the same day he filmed his debut scene for "The Time of the Doctor".[18]

Capaldi kept his native Scottish accent for the role.[19][20][21][22] Speaking on his decision, he said he did it so he could feel closer to the character.[23] A handful of tweets were reported in September 2014 in which it was claimed that some viewers struggled to understand Capaldi. A speech coach and linguistics expert both suggested that any problems with understanding Capaldi had more to do with delivery than accent.[24]



The Twelfth Doctor's outfit consists of a signature dark blue short Crombie-style coat with a red lining, dark blue trousers, a long collared white shirt buttoned to the top with no tie, a navy cardigan or waistcoat, and brogue boots. His shirt varies from episode to episode, with a navy shirt, a dark purple shirt and a black shirt with white polka dots appearing, as well as a black holey jumper, all being worn under his coat. In "Time Heist", the Doctor describes his costume as "hoping for minimalism, but I think I came up with magician."

The look was created by Doctor Who costume designer Howard Burden who wanted to strip the Doctor back to the bare basics.[25] His design was described as "No frills, no scarfs, no messing, just 100% rebel Time Lord."[26] Capaldi said that the costume took a long time to find. The reason he settled on his final costume was because, "I think it’s quite a hard look. I always wanted him to be in black — I always just saw the Doctor in dark colours. Not tweed," in reference to his immediate predecessor's original costume. "Matt’s a really young cool guy — he can wear anything, but I wanted to strip it back and be very stark."[27] He also described it as "back to basics."[25] Moffat described the look as "A stick-insect sort of thing". He also said that Clara calls him "a grey-haired stick-insect at one point".[28] Capaldi also stated that he chose the Twelfth Doctor's costume so fans of the show who enjoy cosplay could easily emulate it without going to great expense.[29] Writing for Radio Times, fashion columnist Anna Fielding described it as "a classic early skinhead look" and linked it to Capaldi's history as a punk musician.[30]

Capaldi's costume has varied in some episodes. In "Mummy on the Orient Express" he dons a period-appropriate tuxedo, and in "Last Christmas" he spends part of the episode wearing a version of a hoodie in lieu of his standard jacket. In "The Magician's Apprentice", he wears Ray-Ban sunglasses, a t-shirt and plaid baggy trousers along with the hoodie and Crombie coat.


The Twelfth Doctor is, according to Capaldi, "more alien than he's been in a while."[31] Whilst still defining himself as someone who 'saves people',[32] the Twelfth Doctor cares little about being seen as a hero or even being liked by the people who he is trying to save.[33] Unlike his previous two incarnations who cared about humans and tried to understand them, Capaldi has confirmed that, this incarnation "doesn’t quite understand human beings or really care very much about their approval." Clara is put on the back-foot by him post-regeneration[34] initially not seeing through his 'Tough Exterior'.[35] Playing Clara, Jenna Coleman says of this Doctor, "He’s more removed, you can't quite access him in the same way", in comparison to his more friendly and accessible predecessor.[36] Capaldi also specifically requested that the Doctor will not flirt with his companion the way his previous incarnation did,[27] though Moffatt has teased that Capaldi's doctor may perhaps be more in love with Clara than he'd like to believe.[37] He has also been described as a "total adrenaline junkie" and, according to Steven Moffat, "much fiercer, madder [and] less reliable".[38] "He’s not as immediately approachable and he’s not necessarily looking for your approval, when he says ‘Wait here, I’ll be back’, you’re not absolutely convinced... what he’s not doing is reassuring you very much."[39] Mark Gatiss said that Capaldi's Doctor was "sort of Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee and even Christopher Eccleston’s someone who’s not immediately going to be your best friend and can be quite abrupt and rude."[40] Moffat added to this analysis of the character by saying, "He has a tremendous ability with throwaway humour and a lot of it is around the fact that sometimes he is terribly rude. I think kids will think he is the rude Doctor [...] You might want to cuddle him but he really will resist."[41] It has been said that part of the Doctor's personality will share "a certain acid wit" of Malcolm Tucker, the role Peter Capaldi is most famous for, "specifically the attitude, the wisecracks and the energy...he can be edgy, volatile and dangerous".[42][43][44] Capaldi has stated that all of the previous actors who had played the Doctor were channelled in his portrayal[45] and that his particular influences were Hartnell, Pertwee and Davison.[43] He has been described as an "older, fiercer, trickier Doctor".[46]

In spite of his darker personality, Capaldi has said that the Doctor is still, "funny, joyful, passionate, emphatic, and fearless." While Jenna Coleman added that this time, the Doctor is more "enigmatic, mysterious, complex, worn, and unmannered" when compared to his immediate two predecessors. Steven Moffat has joked that he's "more Scottish than last time."[47]



The Twelfth Doctor makes a first (and uncredited) appearance in the programme's fiftieth anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor" (2013), when thirteen incarnations of the Doctor unite to save his home planet of Gallifrey from destruction during the Time War. At first, Time Lords in Gallifrey's war room spot twelve blue TARDISes approaching and encircling the planet. This count is then corrected to thirteen, and Capaldi's hands, eyes, and forehead are fleetingly shown.[48] He then makes his full debut at the end of the next episode, "The Time of the Doctor", after the Eleventh Doctor, about to die from old age, is given a new regeneration cycle from the Time Lords, who remain hidden in a pocket universe.

In series 8 premiere "Deep Breath" (2014), the Doctor arrives in Victorian London, where he recovers from the stress of his regeneration, initially under the care of the Paternoster Gang. After uncovering potential alien presence in London, the Doctor goes on the run as a homeless person for some time. He and Clara are reunited by a third party, and realize that this third party has been conspiring to bring the two of them together for some time. The Doctor helps Clara overcome her reservations about his new personality and older physical appearance, and they begin travelling together once more.[49] Over the course of the series, he and Clara have some ups and downs in their friendship caused both by the Doctor's callousness and because Clara wishes to keep her continued travelling a secret from her boyfriend, Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson); she is not able to resolve the situation before Danny dies in a road accident in the first part of the series finale, "Dark Water"/"Death in Heaven". In the finale, he meets Missy (Michelle Gomez), the latest incarnation of his nemesis, the Master, who reveals that she conspired to bring him and Clara together and has begun converting the Earth's dead into Cybermen as part of a plan to compromise the Doctor's morality by offering the amassed army to him. Missy's scheme is foiled, but only after she has killed many people and wreaked terrible chaos, and Clara resolves Missy must die, by her hand if the Doctor will not. The Doctor tells Clara that he will if it's the only way to prevent Clara from becoming a killer, but hesitates. Before the viewer knows if he would go through with it, a cyberconverted Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart who has retained his humanity apparently disintegrates Missy, saving the Doctor from having to commit murder. Prior to her assumed death, Missy gives the Doctor false hope by claiming that Gallifrey has returned to its old coordinates; the lie greatly upsets the Doctor. After their traumatic ordeal, the Doctor and Clara part ways. They are brought together again by a shared dream in "Last Christmas", and afterwards agree to reunite and continue adventuring.

In series 9 premiere "The Magician's Apprentice"/"The Witch's Familiar", the Doctor is summoned to the planet Skaro by his archnemesis Davros, the creator of the Daleks, who is dying. Davros plays on the Doctor's sympathies to trick him into revitalising a dying Dalek empire, siphoning some of the Doctor's regeneration energy to do so. The Doctor also enlivens a mass of dying Daleks consigned to the sewers of Skaro, who begin to tear the city apart, and he makes his escape with Clara, but not before visiting Davros as a young boy on the battlefields of Skaro, and instilling in him a lesson about the virtues of mercy.


In May 2014, it was revealed that New Series Adventures would release books starring the Twelfth Doctor and Clara Oswald, which were released in September 2014. The titles of the released books are Silhouette, The Crawling Terror, and The Blood Cell. The next wave was released in September 2015, with the stories of Deep Time, Royal Blood and Big Bang Generation; all of these also feature the Twelfth Doctor and Clara.[50]

Video games[edit]

Capaldi voices the Lego counterpart of the Twelfth Doctor in the video game, Lego Dimensions.[51]


Following the broadcast of his first full episode, Euan Ferguson of The Guardian called his performance "wise and thoughtful",[52] while Richard Beech of The Mirror agreed that Capaldi displayed "all the hallmarks of a great Doctor".[53] Michael Hogan of The Telegraph felt that Capaldi's portrayal "crackled with fierce intelligence and nervous energy".[54]

In January 2015, Capaldi became the first actor to portray the Doctor not be shortlisted for a National Television Award since the series revival in 2005.[55][56][57] Ahead of the British Academy Television Awards that year, Paul Flynn of The Guardian noted that Capaldi's portrayal of the Doctor had the effect of "significantly reducing Doctor Who‍ '​s glamour quotient".[58]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ a b The Doctor Who Team. "Peter Capaldi exclusively revealed to the nation as the Twelfth Doctor". BBC. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Peter Capaldi revealed as Doctor Who's new lead". BBC. 4 August 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
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  32. ^ "Season 9 Trailer". BBC. 2015-07-09. 
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  38. ^ @CultBoxTV. "'Doctor Who' news summary: Everything we know so far about Peter Capaldi's Doctor". CultBox. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
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  46. ^ The Australian (subscription required)
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  50. ^ "First 12th Doctor Novels Detailed". Doctor Who TV. 3 June 2014. 
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  58. ^ Flynn, Paul (9 May 2015). "Bafta's battle of the superwomen". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 May 2015.