Doctor Who's Peter Capaldi shares what to expect from the Christmas special
It is the Christmas present Doctor Who fans have been eagerly awaiting. After a year off screen, the sci-fi favourite is back with The Return Of Doctor Mysterio and star Peter Capaldi promises even more riches.
"For one reason or another we had a delayed start this year," says the Oscar-winning Scottish actor who has played the 12th Doctor since 2013.
"But we have been busy. I'm in the middle of doing Doctor Who at the moment so we've got tonnes of stuff to get on air and I am sure it's going to be fabulous."
At the end of season nine, the Doctor was without a companion after the departure of Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman, now starring in Victoria). The writers brought back his wife River Song (Alex Kingston) for the 2015 Christmas special, The Husbands Of River Song, but his new companion will not be introduced until season 10, which is set to screen next year.
*Writer Moffat leaving Doctor Who after next season
*Former Doctor Who Peter Davison says role should never be played by a woman
*Doctor Who spin-off 'Class' cast is revealed
*Doctor Who actor Peter Capaldi visits New Zealand, is unimpressed by local delicacy
But the time-travelling doctor is not alone in the upcoming special. In The Return Of Doctor Mysterio, the Doctor teams up with investigative journalist Lucy (Charity Wakefield) and new superhero (Justin Chadwick) – rumoured to be called The Ghost – to try to save New York from a deadly alien invasion. Matt Lucas is also back as the bumbling Nardole.
"As far as I can see, it's a sort of gentle tribute to the older superhero movies that used to be around before it became a CGI-ed, digitised, destruction-fest," Capaldi says.
"There's a taste of the old Christopher Reeves Superman movies in that there's a naivety and humour and irony about it. And, although I don't have a companion, I do have the wonderful Matt Lucas. He's fantastic to have around."
Capaldi hints that Lucas will still be on board for the 12-episode new series which is expected to screen around April. It will introduce the Doctor's new companion, Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie).
"I think it's very exciting that it's someone who is absolutely new to the world of Doctor Who characters," the actor says.
"Clara, my previous companion, was part of history and so knew things about that universe.
"Bill is from the real world and everything has to be explained to her.
"It's kind of going back in time because she has to be told who the Doctor is, what he does and why he does it. The monsters and so on are all new to her. So it's a very refreshing thing. It makes the show seem very new."
However, fans know it is not. Originally launched in 1963, Doctor Who has been around, albeit intermittently, in one incarnation or another, for more than half a century.
"I was a huge fan of the show as a kid. I absolutely loved it," says Capaldi, adding he was five when it launched.
But while a huge fan, he is not one of the fervent followers who could probably complete a PhD in the life and times of the good Doctor.
"There are some people who love to know all the details," Capaldi admits. "I'm not that fervent about it.
"I just love the stories and the monsters and the fun of it all.
"I couldn't survive very well in a Doctor Who Mastermind, for instance, which has been suggested to me a number of times. I just wouldn't have the wherewithal."
However, Capaldi appreciates the enthusiasm that the show generates in its fans, particularly the younger ones.
"I find a lot of the kids I meet who love this show can sometimes be a little like outsiders or those who don't quite fit in and there's something in the show that gives them comfort, a feeling of belonging and that's a nice thing," he says.
The popularity of the show worldwide has also come as something of an eye-opener to the actor who, when initially cast, expressed concerned at how playing such a high-profile character would affect his own life.
"I can't emphasise how strange and wonderful it is to be walking down the street in Wellington –which seems a world away from where I live – and to be recognised in the street and in shops and in cafes always, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, by young people, by students, by kids," he says, of his visit here in November last year.
"Everybody was so warm about it. For those people who enjoy it, I think it's held in great affection.
"To be recognised on the other side of the world is an amazing feeling."
Doctor Who Christmas Special, Prime, Monday December 26.
- TV Guide