Jason Borelli writes for Bleeding Cool from New York Comic Con:
The changing of the guard is upon Doctor Who once again. This Christmas marks the finale of Peter Capaldi’s tenure as the Doctor, in ‘Twice Upon A Christmas’. He will be replaced by Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to assume the role. But for now, Capaldi is still the Doctor, and he greeted his fans at a panel at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
After a video retrospective of Calpaldi’s three seasons on Doctor Who, he came out to a huge ovation, scored to ‘Bang a Gong (Get It On)’ by T.Rex. Capaldi arrived on stage in sunglasses, one of the trademarks of the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Doctor.”
Capaldi started with his first day on the series in 2013, taking the place of Matt Smith to become the 12th Doctor. It would be four months before filming started for the 2014 season. “They don’t pay you for the regeneration,” Capaldi chuckled, referencing the process as to how the Doctor changes appearance, indicating a new actor in the role. He remembered first stepping into the TARDIS set: “Me, Jenna [Coleman], and a bloke with a smoke machine.”
The subject went into the actor’s appreciation of Doctor Who, going back to its debut in 1963. He remarked about wanting the Doctor to encounter Mondasian Cybermen (the series’ original version of those foes) during his tenure. Steven Moffat, the show’s long-time executive producer who is also departing, said that would be stupid, but they would come up in the latest season finale. Capaldi didn’t know whether he had changed Moffat’s mind, or if was part of a plan.
He also met Rachel Talalay, who would go on to direct his favorite episodes of his run. Capaldi who play the part of guide to those playing the Doctor’s newest companions; Pearl Mackie (Bill Potts) and Matt Lucas (Nardole). Capaldi likened working on the series as “being in a television factory” in the best way possible.
The subject moved to Capaldi’s final episode, ‘Twice Upon a Time’, where he acts alongside David Bradley, who plays the first incarnation of the Doctor. To Capaldi, Bradley manages to invoke the spirit of William Hartnell, the man who first played the Doctor.
As to why he was leaving the series, Capaldi talked about not wanting to know how to play the role, that he felt that he needed to constantly work at being the Doctor. He was frightened about “getting the hang of it.” He called his last day on set as “quite fun,” acknowledging that the regeneration was part of playing the Doctor. While he is done with the role in front of the camera, Capaldi noted that he had to perform voice recordings for the finale.
To the amusement of the audience, Capaldi revealed how he was tipped off to an actress taking his place. He frequents Paul Smith, a fashionable high-end fashion shop, and he found out that the show requested his trousers at a waist size 30. Continuing the lighter note, Capaldi spoke with Whittaker before the official announcement, finding out that they lived close to each other, and that she had been going to the same coffee bars as him for three months without him noticing. He hoped that fans would embrace her as the Doctor.
At this point, audience members asked their questions. The first centered on possibly returning to The Thick Of It, where he was famous for playing the antagonistic and foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker. He quipped about how the role might be outdated, adding, “Politics aren’t fun anymore.”
The next question came from a fan who remembered Capaldi’s role in Lair Of The White Worm. He asked the actor what monsters he had wanted to see on the show during his run. Capaldi responded with the insect-like aliens from “The Web Planet,” as he found the idea of them to be imaginative.
When asked about his favorite episode during his run, Capaldi brought up ‘Heaven Sent’, which centers mostly on the Doctor being alone, which was a first for the series. He answered another question about what his ideal episode would have been, imagining a ’60s adventure with Jimi Hendrix, with the monsters being literal “flower children.” He added that the Doctor would have introduced Hendrix to the wah-wah pedal.
Capaldi continued answering questions. What would be the Doctor’s advice to humanity today? “Get it together!” He talked about his “fear is a superpower” speech from the latest season, which echoed a William Hartnell story. He also mentioned that he would be signing autographs at the Javits Center. “I don’t have any money now,” he quipped to the audience’s amusement.
The subject turned to Capaldi’s hair during his tenure, which grew upwards as he played the role. He talked about being pressured to keep it short, but liked it to be bigger over time. He joked about a possible story where the Doctor would have to fight that hair.
The panel ended with a montage of fans around the world paying tribute to Capaldi’s Doctor, with fan art thrown in for good measure.
‘Twice Upon a Time’ will air on Christmas Day on BBC 1 and BBC America.