Twelfth Doctor

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The Doctor
The Twelfth Doctor
Portrayed by Peter Capaldi
Tenure 25 December 2013–present
First appearance "The Time of the Doctor"
Number of series 2
Appearances 22 stories (26 episodes)
Companions Clara Oswald
River Song
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.

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 as the Doctor 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] In the tenth series, he will be accompanied by a new companion: Bill (Pearl Mackie)[5]


Peter Capaldi portrays the Twelfth Doctor.

Matt Smith, who played the Eleventh Doctor, publicly announced his departure from Doctor Who on 1 June 2013,[6] triggering extensive media speculation on the subject.[7] On 3 August 2013, bookmakers William Hill suspended betting when Capaldi became the five to six favourite to be cast.[8] Capaldi's casting was revealed on 4 August during a live broadcast on BBC One, titled Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor.[9] 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.[10]

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,[7] 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.[11]

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[12] and the third oldest to portray the character.[13] 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."[14]

Capaldi has previously appeared playing other roles in the Doctor Who franchise. He portrayed Lobus Caecilius 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][15] 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.[16] This situation was alluded to in "Deep Breath", when a confused Doctor is reminded of Caecilius when he examines his face in a mirror.[17] In "The Girl Who Died", it is explained that the Doctor chose Caecilius' face to remind himself that he is the Doctor, and that he can always save people.[18] While not explained in the episode, Moffat later said that he also shares a face with John Frobisher as Frobisher is Caecilius's descendant, and represents the end of Caecilius's bloodline, referencing the Doctor's "eternal battle with doom and destiny."[19] 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.[20]

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.[21] 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".[22]

Capaldi kept his native Scottish accent for the role.[23][24][25][26] Speaking on his decision, he said he did it so he could feel closer to the character.[27] 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.[28]



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. He also wears a hoodie over his jumper as of series nine, over his t-shirt 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.[29] His design was described as "No frills, no scarfs, no messing, just 100% rebel Time Lord."[30] 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."[31] He also described it as "back to basics."[29] 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".[32] 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.[33] 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.[34]

Capaldi's costume has varied in some episodes. In "Mummy on the Orient Express" he dons a period-appropriate tuxedo. In "The Magician's Apprentice", he wears Ray-Ban sunglasses (later revealed in "The Witch's Familiar" to be a wearable version of his sonic screwdriver), a t-shirt and plaid baggy trousers along with the hoodie and Crombie coat. In "Face the Raven", the Twelfth Doctor sports a red velvet variant of his Crombie coat. After briefly ditching it in "Hell Bent", Clara comments that it made him look more 'doctory'. At the end of the episode, he dons the red coat in honour of her, and is given a new sonic screwdriver by the TARDIS. In the ending segment of "The Husbands of River Song", the Doctor again dons the same tuxedo and period dress worn in "Mummy on the Orient Express".


The Twelfth Doctor is, according to Capaldi, "more alien than he's been in a while."[35] Whilst still defining himself as someone who "saves people,"[36] the Twelfth Doctor cares little about being seen as a hero or even being liked by the people who he is trying to save.[37] 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[38] initially not seeing through his 'Tough Exterior'.[39] 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.[40] Capaldi also specifically requested that the Doctor will not flirt with his companion the way his previous incarnation did,[31] though Steven Moffat has teased that Capaldi's doctor may perhaps be more in love with Clara than he'd like to believe.[41] He has also been described as a "total adrenaline junkie" and, according to Moffat, "much fiercer, madder [and] less reliable".[42] "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."[43]

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."[44] 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."[45] 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".[46][47][48] Capaldi has stated that all of the previous actors who had played the Doctor were channelled in his portrayal[49] and that his particular influences were Hartnell, Pertwee and Davison.[47] He has been described as an "older, fiercer, trickier Doctor".[50] 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."[51]

In Series 9, Capaldi described his character as a 'thrill-seeker' who is confronting danger where he soon realises that he is 'one of the luckiest creatures in all of time and space' and that 'life is short even at two-thousand years'[52] According to Coleman regarding Clara's bond with The Doctor inquring if she had feelings for him she stated “She’s totally in love with him, always has been. It’s its own kind of love. He is her hero but she would be very reluctant to tell him that. It’s a doctor-and-companion love, and there’s nothing else like it really.” “They’re kind of freed of their issues and in a wonderful place together. Previously she was trying to keep him under control yet now the two of them are going ‘Come on, lets jump, lets do it’, egging each other on really, and being more and more reckless,” she teased. Capaldi stated “It’s sort of an utterly platonic bond, which is quite unusual. The problem is the Doctor knows a lot more than he ever says. He knows Clara’s fate. He knows the fate of all his companions before they do.”[53]



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.[54] He then makes his full debut at the end of the next episode, "The Time of the Doctor", after the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), about to die from old age, is given a new regeneration cycle from the Time Lords, who remain hidden in a pocket universe.

In the 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. While on the run, he believes he has seen his new face before, though does not recall from where. He and Clara (Jenna Coleman) are reunited by a third party, and realise 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.[55] 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; her plan is to compromise the Doctor's morality with the offer of an army with which to rule the universe. Missy's scheme is foiled, but not before many have died and Earth is in chaos. The Doctor takes a weapon from Clara, to spare his companion the burden of killing Missy herself. As the Doctor hesitates, a cyberconverted Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, retaining his humanity, appears to disintegrate Missy with a laser blast. After a traumatic ordeal, the Doctor and Clara part ways, seemingly for good, before they are reunited by a shared dream in "Last Christmas" and agree to continue adventuring.

In the series 9 premiere "The Magician's Apprentice"/"The Witch's Familiar" (2015), the Doctor, along with Clara and Missy, who survived her apparent disintegration, are summoned to the planet Skaro by The Doctor's archnemesis Davros (Julian Bleach), the creator of the evil Dalek race, 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 "The Girl Who Died," the Doctor finally remembers that he shares a face with a man he was persuaded to save in Pompeii, despite his initial reluctance to alter the timeline. He surmises that he subconsciously chose this face as a reminder that his job is to save lives. He is inspired to resurrect Viking girl Ashildr (Maisie Williams) with alien technology; he learns in "The Woman Who Lived" that she has become immortal and watches over his past companions. In "Face the Raven", Clara dies while trying to outsmart Ashildr, who stages an elaborate ploy to trap the Doctor, which he learns in "Heaven Sent" was on behalf of the Time Lords. Emerging from the trap on his home planet of Gallifrey, he sends a warning to his people of his return. In "Hell Bent", the Doctor deposes Time Lord President Rassilon (Donald Sumpter) and uses Time Lord technology to save Clara from the moments before her death, and then proceeds to run away with her to the end of time in the hopes of cheating death permanently. He is then persuaded by Ashildr that he and Clara are a dangerous influence on each other, and perhaps together constitute the "Hybrid of two great warrior races" which is prophesied to destroy Gallifrey. The Doctor attempts to wipe Clara's memories of him using a device, but she alters it so that it affects his memories of her instead; she leaves him behind on Earth with his TARDIS to start adventuring again. She departs in her own stolen TARDIS, alongside Ashildr, promising to one day return to Gallifrey and accept her death.

The Christmas special "The Husbands of River Song" (2015) is the Twelfth Doctor's first appearance alongside River Song (Alex Kingston), the Doctor's roguish time travelling wife. After a long and emotionally wrought adventure together, the two confess the full extent of their feelings for each another. When they crash land on the planet Darillium, the Doctor realises that he must fulfil a history told to him by a future version of River in "Silence in the Library" (2008); he gives his wife one perfect, final extended date with him, knowing it will be their last together before her death.


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.[56] The next wave was released in September 2015, with the stories of Deep Time, Royal Blood and Big Bang Generation; the first two of these also feature the Twelfth Doctor and Clara, while Big Bang Generation sees the Twelfth Doctor reunited with the Seventh Doctor's Virgin New Adventures companion Bernice Summerfield.[57][58]

Video games[edit]

Capaldi voices the Lego counterpart of the Twelfth Doctor in the video game, Lego Dimensions, alongside Jenna Coleman and Michelle Gomez as Clara and Missy respectively.[59] He also lent his voice to the character in the CBBC online game, The Doctor and the Dalek[60] and in the Doctor Who Game Maker on the official Doctor Who site.[61]


Peter Capaldi has received critical acclaim for his portrayal of the Doctor. Following the broadcast of "Deep Breath", Euan Ferguson of The Guardian called his performance "wise and thoughtful",[62] while Richard Beech of The Mirror agreed that Capaldi displayed "all the hallmarks of a great Doctor".[63] Michael Hogan of The Telegraph felt that Capaldi's portrayal "crackled with fierce intelligence and nervous energy".[64] Capaldi's performance in "Listen" was praised with Alasdair Wilkins of The A.V. Club stating "Capaldi turns in a suitably fearless performance, reaching his obsessive crescendo as he prepares to meet whatever is waiting for him at the end of the universe".[65] His acting in "The Caretaker" was praised with Ceri Radford of The Telegraph noting "Capaldi's ability to mould the character of the Doctor into his own unique intergalactic curmudgeon",[66] alongside Morgan Jeffery of Digital Spy noting "Capaldi's is the most complex and variable take on the Time Lord we've seen since Eccleston".[67] Tom Baker praised his character "instantly one felt: this fellow comes from far far away, he's strange. An instant frisson. And what's the word? Yes, got it! Alien, he's an alien. I salute him".[68] Writer Armando Iannucci noted that Capaldi possessed "the air of the classic Doctor".

In January 2015, Capaldi became the first actor to portray the Doctor to not be shortlisted for a National Television Award since the series revival in 2005.[69][70][71] 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".[72] Later, Capaldi received TV Choice Awards nomination for Best Actor.[73] He was also nominated for a BAFTA Cymru Award in the Best Actor category for his acting in "Dark Water".[74]

Scott Collura from IGN praised the interactions and dialogue between him and Davros in "The Witch's Familiar".[75] Den of Geek praised Capaldi in "Before the Flood" noting "his performance continues to mix grumpiness, friendliness, intelligence and a large dose of alien, he's been on excellent, excellent form".[76] Catherine Gee of The Telegraph credited Capaldi's acting in "The Woman Who Lived" noting "he has grown into the role utterly and completely. He embodies the weight of the Doctor’s responsibility; his face wears every nuanced expression with a flickering ease".[77] His performance in "The Zygon Inversion" was heavily praised by fans and critics most specifically his anti-war speech, with Dan Martin of The Guardian stating "this Doctor has never been written better, Capaldi has never channelled Tom Baker more".[78] Most prominently Capaldi's performance in "Heaven Sent" received universal widespread acclaim,[79] with Patrick Mulkern of Radio Times noting that "Peter Capaldi's one-man show is an instant classic",[80] and that "Capaldi delivers 100%, carrying every scene and showing every facet of his Doctor: anger, terror, playfulness, intensity, resignation and, finally, a fierce refusal to do anything other than do what he has always done: find a way to win".[81]

Steven Moffat praised his leading man stating "we could argue for the rest of our lives about who's the best Doctor — but for me, the best single performance in the role is settled forever. You can only ask a solo of a virtuoso, so thank God and Scotland for Peter Capaldi".[82] Capaldi's predecessor, Matt Smith, praised him as having "reinvented" Doctor Who.[83] In a review for "Hell Bent", Catherine Gee stated "Peter Capaldi proved that he is one of the greatest Doctors".[84] Den of Geek praised the dynamic between the Doctor and River Song in "The Husbands of River Song", with Simon Brew noting the pair as a "strong double act",[85] with Morgan Jeffery of Digital Spy stating "this, combined with Capaldi and Kingston's sensitive work, means you feel a weight of history between these two people who've never shared a screen before".[86]

In June 2016, Peter Capaldi again has become shortlisted for a national TV Choice Award for Best Actor.[87] He had also been submitted for a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.[88]

See also[edit]


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