Who Replaces Peter Capaldi As The Doctor?
July 10th, 2015 | by Kyle King
Doctor Who will be back on the BBC this fall for the revived British science fiction show’s ninth series, with Peter Capaldi returning for his second season as the twelfth Doctor.
Though information on the upcoming episodes is limited, Capaldi has gotten conflicting reviews as Matt Smith’s successor in charge of the TARDIS. The Scottish actor has received critical praise, while fan reaction has been more mixed.
Even if Whovians warm to Capaldi’s portrayal, his long-term durability in the role of everyone’s favorite Time Lord is limited: Capaldi was 55 when he was cast in the role, making him the oldest actor since the first Doctor, William Hartnell, to portray the beloved character on a regular basis. Hartnell, who surrendered the role at age 58, retains the record for being the oldest recurring Doctor; Capaldi turned 57 earlier this year.
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In addition, Capaldi prepares to begin his second season in the role beneath the shadow of the fact that none of the previous seven Doctors since Tom Baker has lasted longer than three seasons playing the part. Time is not on this Time Lord’s side.
Only Capaldi and the show’s producers can decide when another actor will take up the role, but it is clear who that actor should be when the time comes: Peter Davison, who played the fifth Doctor from 1981 to 1984.
No actor has ever played the Doctor twice in series history (although, technically, David Tennant’s Doctor once regenerated into himself). However, actors previously have appeared in multiple roles on the program, including three Doctors.
Colin Baker appeared opposite Davison in the 1983 story “Arc of Infinity” before being cast as the sixth Doctor a year later. Capaldi likewise played Lobus Caecilius in “The Fires of Pompeii” during Tennant’s run as the Doctor. Most recently, Tom Baker played the part of the curator in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. Bringing back Davison would be groundbreaking, but hardly unprecedented.
First cast in the part at age 29, Davison was the first Doctor to take up the role before turning 40. His status as the youngest actor ever selected to pilot the TARDIS endured until 27-year-old Matt Smith was chosen to be the eleventh Doctor.
Davison’s casting started a more youthful trend for the Time Lord, though. The first four Doctors’ average age at casting was nearly 48; the seven Doctors from Davison through Smith averaged a starting age below 36. Three of the four actors just prior to Capaldi began their respective runs as the Doctor at 36 or younger.
Davison, who initiated the tendency toward younger incarnations of the Doctor, thought he was too young to play the part when it was first offered him. With the trend now moving in the opposite direction, Davison would be at least as suitable a choice today as he was 35 years ago.
Though Davison would, at 64, be the oldest Doctor yet cast as the series’ star, he has remained a working actor, playing Henry Sharpe on Law & Order: UK from 2011 through 2014 and joining the cast of Gypsy in its West End transfer to the Savoy Theatre in London in 2015.
Were he to come back to the role of the Doctor, it would not mark the first time Davison returned to a part he previously had played on series television. After playing Tristan Farnon on All Creatures Great and Small from 1978 to 1980, Davison reprised the role from 1988 to 1990.
Another interesting element Davison’s casting would add concerns Jenny, the titular character of the 2008 Doctor Who episode “The Doctor’s Daughter”. Jenny was played by Georgia Moffett, who is Davison’s actual daughter. Moffett acted in the episode opposite David Tennant, whom she later married, and “The Doctor’s Daughter” ended in a way that left open the possibility of Jenny’s subsequent return.
With what actor could the return of the Doctor’s daughter be more perfect than with Davison, Moffett’s real-life father?
In addition to their off-screen parent-child relationship, Davison and Moffett previously appeared together on television in the 2007 British sitcom Fear, Stress & Anger. A potential return appearance by Jenny would be a fringe benefit to Davison’s resumption of the role.
When he took over from the immensely popular Tom Baker, Davison was placed in a difficult position, but his portrayal of the Doctor was popular and memorable. Even at such a young age, Davison brought a sensibility to the role that resonated with fans. Now, as a more seasoned actor who still is willing and able to handle the workload of series television, Davison should be given another turn piloting the TARDIS for a new generation of Whovians.
Peter Capaldi has at least one more season in him as the Doctor, but, when the 2,000-year-old Time Lord next undergoes regeneration, the most intriguing casting option is one Doctor Who’s producers wisely chose a generation ago.
Who’s with me?
Would you like to see the fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, cast to play the 13th Doctor, as well?
Let us know in the comments below!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.