Doctor, Doctor, gimme the news…
I was quietly amused by the people grumbling about the way the announcement of the 12th Doctor was made last night. A live extravaganza on primetime BBC? Why, in my day, you were lucky to get the “and finally” squib on the Nine O-Clock news! Don't you think it's all gone a bit far?
Well… no. Let's not forget that Doctor Who is as big now as it was in its 1960's heyday. It's a massive global phenomenon that makes the BBC an awful lot of money. It's coming up on it's 50th anniversary, and is watched by, on average, a third of the viewing public. I'd say that it's worth making a big deal once every few years when the lead character changes his face.
On casting Peter Capaldi. It's a heck of a good choice, isn't it? The right mix of gravitas, otherworldliness and capacity for shocking decision making. This is the guy that could have started the Time War.
He's not black, and he's not female. It would have made one hell of a point in the anniversary year to cast a Doctor that bucked the prevailing trend. It instantly opens up arenas to other kinds of stories, really playing with the issue of identity that's really at the heart of the character. To anyone saying that race and gender are not things to talk about in a kid's show: why not? If Doctor Who can discuss genocide, why not relevant issues to an audience that is, let's not forget, nowhere near exclusively white or male.
That being said, if you're going to cast to type, it's a shrewd move to go with a seven times-nominated, twice BAFTA-award winning, Oscar-owning actor who's a proved Who fanboy and will just happen to be the same age as William Hartnell come the 50th anniversary. You could do a lot worse. Remind me who thought the geek from the BT ads was a good choice in the face of that?
I'm excited, fascinated and intrigued by the notion of Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who. Matt Smith was a brave choice that really worked out, but an actor with Capaldi's stature and status is really going to make the show up its game. I'm expecting nothing less than greatness next year.