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Peter Capaldi muses on his first year as ‘Doctor Who’

Peter Capaldi as The Doctor in the BBC America show "Doctor Who."
Peter Capaldi as The Doctor in the BBC America show "Doctor Who." McClatchy

Finishing out his first season as “Doctor Who” on BBC America, lead actor Peter Capaldi feels he’s living a dream and having a “fabulous” time.

“I get up at half-six in the morning,” he says, “and by 7 o’clock I’m fighting Daleks, running down corridors, skipping down ventilation shafts. That’s a great way to be living your life at this age, I think.”

The Doctor is an alien from the planet Gallifrey who travels through time and space in his TARDIS (time machine), having adventures and usually defending Earth. The show celebrated its golden 50th anniversary at the end of 2013 with a major change in the main character.

Capaldi took over and, at 56, he was appreciatively older than his predecessors, Matt Smith, now 32 and David Tennant, now 43.

At the time, a major question was, “Would the fans be able to handle an ‘older’ Doctor?”

According to Capaldi the answer has been yes.

“When people see you — they meet you, or they meet me—they very kindly project the character of Doctor Who upon me,” he says. “They are always very pleased to see Doctor Who so I get more smiles and affection than I would be normally.

He’s very pleased that people have accepted him as the Doctor.

“You have a real sense of how much the show means to those who love it,” he says.

The other side of such a notable part is a loss of anonymity. “The ability to walk down the street without people being aware of youit’s a luxury that’s no longer open to me.”

More than 2.5 million viewers tuned in the first episode to be introduced to the new Doctor.

Capaldi says that he’s “found generally if the kids are into it, and they like it, it’s the show and the character basically.

He adds, “For those who grew up with the show, we’re used to having an older Doctor. The younger Doctor is the stranger.”

Since the first Doctor in 1963, William Hartnell, there have been 12 other actors who have taken on the part. The show manages this by having the Doctor regenerate into a new actor, each of who brings a different sensibility to the character. It’s a learning process as Capaldi admits.

“We all launch ourselves into it with optimism and good heartedness,” he says, “but we don’t really know whom the Doctor’s going to be until we get on the floor, until we start acting. I think it takes a little while before we all begin to see, perhaps, where we can go with it.

“I don’t think any of us feel that we’ve ‘arrived with him’ or we’ve ‘got it where we want it. I think it’s a continual process.”

The ninth season is already launching into pre-production, he says. He’s happy about that.

“There’s always a part of me that’s waiting to be (told) ‘you’re not Doctor Who anymore,’ so I’m always very relieved when they’re telling me that ‘we’re starting again very soon.’

ON DVD

The Complete Eight Season DVD comes out Dec. 9 for $79.98. It includes commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage and a documentary on the “Doctor Who: The World Tour,” an event that introduced Capaldi as the new Doctor.

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