Peter Capaldi, center, is the new Doctor; Jenna Coleman is companion Clara Oswald and Steven Moffat, left, is the showrunner of "Doctor Who." Credit: BBC
Is the Doctor technically "back" if he’s all new?
The eighth season of the British sci-fi series about the Time Lord who travels in a blue police box begins this Saturday, and there’s a new man at the TARDIS controls: Scottish actor Peter Capaldi.
Accompanied by co-star Jenna Coleman, who plays the Doctor’s companion Clara Oswald, and showrunner Steven Moffat, the trio embarked on a TARDIS-worthy world tour to promote the show, visiting five continents in 12 days.
We caught up with them at the New York City premiere to find out what’s in store.
Expect a proper introduction:
Moffat, who also wrote the season’s first episode, said he wanted to keep the plot secondary. “I didn’t want it to be wildly complicated as it were because obviously the grandstanding at the center of it is a new Doctor and a new relationship with a companion, so you really just want the villains to be lurching around offing people now and then with quite a simple backstory.”
But not references:
Capaldi guest-starred in a previous episode, as well as being known for his recent role on “The Thick of It.” But Moffat said there won’t be any nudge-nudge nods in the series. “Frankly the reason the Doctor looks like another character in 'Doctor Who' is because he’s played by the same actor, and everybody knows that. If you go down that path I’ll be explaining why John Watson looks like Bilbo.”
Peter Capaldi portrays the 12th incarnation of the Doctor. Credit: BBC
Plot imitates real life:
The companion is, to some extent, a proxy for the audience. Which is especially true when the Doctor is new. Coleman said Capaldi threw “about a thousand options at the wall” while regenerating into Twelve – and it's not the first time she was surprised by him. “Especially in the early days when Peter was finding his Doctor, [I] would say, ‘Actually, no, I'm just gonna stand here.’ It’s that thing where instead of going to the room, the room coming to him. And I feel like he was really bold and brave.”
The role is in good hands:
“Doctor Who” has been part of Capaldi’s life since age 5. He grew up idolizing the actors who portrayed the role, even more than his contemporaries on the stage and screen. So when his turn came, it took a little time. “Every day it’s like, it’s full of moments that you go, ‘Oh, wow, I'm the Doctor, this is amazing!’ But think of the first time you make your escape through a ventilation shaft! It’s quite special.”
Though he never expected it:
His first taste of “Doctor Who” was as a guest star during David Tennant's era, and he made the most of the experience. “When I went to the set I said, 'Where’s the TARDIS?' I just went over and I remember touching it,” he says. “And I thought, ‘This is…’ and I got a little bit teary looking at it.” But he didn’t think he’d get the chance to fly it. “I never really thought they would come to me. It seemed to be something that was not a direction they would be going in.”
Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman stopped by the top of the Empire State Building. Credit: BBC
Where will the conflict come from this season?
Moffat promised that there are still monsters in corridors and explosions, but the show would be less without exploring each new Doctor's character. “I think you’re wasting an opportunity with every generation if you don't do a bit of that, because we know that he doesn’t just change his face. He changes – things about him aren’t the same. Things he reaches for aren’t there. He has feelings he didn’t have before. I think that must be awfully alarming.”
The fans’ role:
Moffat revealed that the new title credits for Season 8 — a steampunk mash-up of science and engineering in which gears morph into revolving planets — was created by a fan. “We give [fans] a show and they give us our show back, sometimes better. It has turned people into actors, it has turned people into writers, it has turned people into scientists. That’s an extraordinary thing.”
The eighth season of "Doctor Who" premieres Aug. 23 at 8 p.m. on BBC America. Follow Eva Kis on Twitter @thisiskis or email firstname.lastname@example.org.