Doctor Who returns with Scottish accent

JULIE ELEY
Last updated 07:22 30/08/2014
Doctor Who
BBC
REGENERATED: Peter Capaldi as the 'new' Doctor with Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald.

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Doctor Who returns to Prime on Sunday with the surprisingly funny Peter Capaldi making his appearance as the 12th Time Lord. TV Guide editor Julie Eley caught up with the show's stars during the Sydney leg of the BBC's Doctor Who World Tour. 

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The action in Doctor Who takes place in Victorian London but with journalists who saw the first episode sworn to secrecy, that is all we can tell you.

Life has come full circle for Peter Capaldi. The Scottish actor, who rose to fame as the foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It, became an actor after a childhood obsession with Doctor Who - and now he is playing the man himself.

But while Capaldi might have acted out scenes from the British sci-fi series in the schoolyard, playing the Time Lord for real is a different ballgame, as he quickly discovered.

"I've always loved Doctor Who and enjoyed him, but that was one of the kind of challenging things about taking on the role because you suddenly realise you haven't figured out how to do it and you can't just turn round and be in the playground," he says.

Unlike fellow Scot David Tennant who played his Doctor Who with an English accent, Capaldi insisted on retaining his Glasgow one.

"I just felt it was important that I bring the Doctor to myself," he says. "Rather than add a lot of layers of acting technique to it, I wanted to bring him close to me. I knew that there was going to be so much work anyway, I didn't want to have to be working on an accent as well."

His appointment as the 12th Doctor took many people by surprise.

Even his co-star Jenna Coleman, who plays his travelling companion Clara, admitted, "I had no idea of the direction they were going to go. I had all sorts of thoughts. Was it going to be a woman? Was it going to be David Beckham? There was much speculation."

She found out the new doctor's identity when royalty visited the Doctor Who set in Cardiff.

"Prince Charles was on the Dalek machine doing all the voices," she recalls. "We could tell something was going on because everyone was kind of bursting at the seams."

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Capaldi had to keep his new role secret for more than two months, but during that time he would often visit a London comic book store frequented by Doctor Who fans.

"That's how creepy I am," he says. "There is a shop called Forbidden Planet which is a kind of geeks paradise. I used to go in there and just stand very close to someone who was browsing through a Doctor Who magazine going, 'They don't realise they are actually standing next to the next Doctor Who'."

The high-profile role takes Capaldi to a world that is far removed from the Glasgow tenement where he grew up as the son of an Italian immigrant ice-cream salesman.

"There is a new level of visibility which is slightly unnatural so you have to consider whether or not you are able to deal with that," he says. "That I don't know, because we have only just started."

While it is early days, he is clearly enjoying himself. His first scene was shot in the Tardis, something he describes as being "like a wardrobe your dad made and painted blue".

He says of the first day's filming, "It's quite scary. The very first thing I had to do was get into that Tardis...

"It's not bigger in the inside. It's actually smaller because Coleman's in there and there's a prop guy with a small smoke gun. It's quite chilly as well. In future I'm going to have a little electric fire and a kettle and serve beverages."

Coleman discloses that they tried several different ways to introduce the new Doctor, including a singing, break-dancing Time Lord - a possible nod to Peter's years as lead singer with the punk rock band Dreamboys.

She says the regeneration of the Doctor throws the sonic screwdriver among the pigeons.

"It's really interesting what it does to Clara because it kind of throws the whole dynamic up in the air," Coleman says.

"Everything was fine and dandy. She felt very safe, comfortable she knew how this travelling was working and suddenly all the rules have now changed. For Clara, that's scary."

Capaldi says the new Doctor is no less confused.

"He doesn't know who he is. He's struggling to find out. He's lost in the ruins of himself, facing consequences of his past," he says.

"He's trying to figure out whether he is a good person, whether he is the person he wants to be. He's a little bit frightened of who he is."

While the Doctor might not know who he is, Capaldi had definite ideas on how he should look.

"I think to be dressed in black is always nice," he says of his character's red-lined black jacket. "With the full costume on he makes strange spidery shapes."

And he had another unusual request to make to the costume department. He has been married to his actress wife Elaine for more than 20 years and she urged him to continue acting when lack of work nearly forced him to turn his back on the profession eight years ago.

So he was reluctant to surrender his wedding ring for the part.

"I hate taking it (my wedding ring) off. I feared that filming for eight months, every day taking it off, I might lose it somewhere which would break my heart. So I asked costume and design if we could come up with a way of constructing a ring that would cover it. It's a ring with a jade stone in it."

It is not the only jewellery you will see him wear. His first day on the set coincided with Matt Smith's last day as the Time Lord.

"He passed the watch that he'd worn as the Doctor over to me and said, 'This is yours now and the Tardis is yours'."

What would the young Doctor Who fan in the playground have thought of that?

Doctor Who
Prime, Sunday, 7.30pm

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