Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi on leaving the show: 'It's been cosmic'

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Doctor Who returns to Kiwi TV screens on April 17.

Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi stunned the 'Whoniverse' when he announced that he will vacate the Tardis at the end of this year.

"I feel it's time to move on," he says. "I feel sad, I love Doctor Who. It is a fantastic programme to work on, but I have always been someone who did a lot of different things. I can't thank everyone enough. It's been cosmic."

The news generated a lot of sadness and surprise, as Capaldi has been widely acclaimed for his performance as the 12th incarnation of the Time Lord.

Peter Capaldi with Pearl Mackie who plays new companion Bill.

Peter Capaldi with Pearl Mackie who plays new companion Bill.

The Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss, for example, said that he was, "Profoundly sad that the wonderful Peter Capaldi is leaving at the end of the year. But he is – and always will be – a great Doctor Who."

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Capaldi, who is teaming his trademark "electric shock" hairdo with a smart dark suit for this interview, explains why he will watch the last series with a degree of apprehension.

Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor.

Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor.

"I have always watched Doctor Who, even before I was involved. I still do, but now I watch it from behind the sofa because I'm terrified of my acting and my hair."

A man whose presence is as vivid and electrifying as his hair, 58-year-old Capaldi makes for compelling company.

He possesses an unusual, almost otherworldly charm that makes him perfect for the role of Doctor Who.

He is a lifelong fan, who wrote to the Radio Times as a boy praising the programme, and brings a rare relish to the role.

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A live wire with a captivating use of language, Capaldi has an appealing sense of humour, too.

For instance, he smiles as he talks about the classic Doctor Who injury that he sustained this year.

"I have got the same knee injury as Matt Smith (the actor who played the previous Doctor). When I first met him, he came hobbling into the restaurant on crutches. I said, 'What's happened to you?' 'It's the show, mate'."

Capaldi, who has now played the Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey for the past four years, stands up to demonstrate the action that has caused such trouble.

"I'll show you. You run down the corridor, reach the end, and then spin on one leg to make sure you get a nice close-up. But when you spin, you put tension on that knee and that's why it hurts. We should come up with a name for that injury. How about 'Gallifrey Knee'?"

The Doctor is renowned through the universe for his heroism. And he will need every ounce of that in the new series, in which he, his new companion Bill (played by Pearl Mackie) and his old pal Nardole (Matt Lucas) tackle fearsome new monsters, known as The Monks, in an epic three-part story.

So has the actor, who also made a huge impact in a previous leading role as the foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in the political comedy The Thick Of It, ever been responsible for an act of heroism in his own life?

With a wry grin – he does a lot of wry grinning – Capaldi recalls that, "I once turned the woman next door's water off when she had a burst pipe while she was out. I had to put my hand down a hole in the pavement. I know nothing about plumbing and there was just water gushing everywhere.

"Her house was flooding fast, so I thought, 'There is obviously a thing you turn down there'. But I wasn't sure what I would find. There could have been a monster with teeth down there. It was at that moment that I thought, 'Maybe one day I'll play Doctor Who'."

Before we part, Capaldi reflects on whether he has nailed the role of Doctor Who yet.

"I don't think I have, but that's the way you should be with every part. I find it surprising when actors say, 'I've nailed it. I know how this works.' I don't know how it works.

"I just keep going. It's clear after a while that certain things are more popular than others, but it would be a mistake to say I know how to do something."

But does this childhood fan of the Time Lord still get the same joy as ever from playing the part?

"Of course. It's Doctor Who, for goodness sake. What's not to like?"

Doctor Who, Prime, returning Monday April 17.

 - TV Guide

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