Doctor Who spoilers: Sooo just how different will Peter Capaldi be to Matt Smith?

by Anna Howell


With Doctor Who fans everywhere waiting eagerly for the 12th Time Lord, Peter Capaldi’s, full debut, Unreality TV thought we would explore some of the main differences we expect to see between him, and his predecessor Matt Smith.

Smith announced his decision to leave the hugely popular BBC family sci-fi series back in June last year, and thus began the traditional gossip merry-go-round regarding who would replace him.

This new regeneration caused more of a stir than most, as fans everywhere called for this next chapter in the 50 year old series to make a big change and asked that bosses cast either a female or black actor in the role.

Whilst the planet threw names ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous into the ring, show runner Steven Moffat, as he later revealed, sat back and chuckled as he only ever had one man in mind for the role.

When it was announced in September that Scottish The Thick Of It star, Peter Capaldi, was the only person who was invited to audition for the part of the 12th Doctor Who, the world clapped and accepted this decision like we had all made it together.

There is your first main difference – Expectation!

Matt Smith is arguably one of the best loved Time Lord’s in the history of the show. But cast your mind back to when his predecessor, David Tennant, announced his decision to leave, and the same speculation over who would take over began. Matt Smith was by far no one’s first choice, and many, if not most people wrote him off before he filmed his first scene.

This probably felt more than a little daunting for the actor, but at least he knew he couldn’t be any worse than predicted.

doctor who the day of the doctor peter capaldi

In direct contrast, poor Capaldi has the world’s eyes on him, with expectations raised higher than the roof of St Pauls, which means that the pressure is on in a totally different way.

And it isn’t like he can just slip in and hope no one notices, as one of the other big differences is the age of both actors!

At only 26 years of age, Matt Smith was the youngest ever actor to be cast in the infamous role, one of the main reasons people expected it not to work.

Capaldi is bringing the Doctor back to middle-ages, a move that is satisfactory to most fans, but with other changes of character already announced by the show’s producers it has caused the question of age to be thrown into the ring somewhat.

When it was revealed earlier this year that Capaldi’s Doctor would be madder than Smith’s, and would not be linked romantically to his companion, Jenna Coleman as Smith was, fans started lambasting the decision as ageist – But is it?

doctor who clara

Over the years there have been many Doctors, and many companions, but not all of them had romantic links to each other, so surely that would make Smith’s relationship with Clara more ageist, throwing together two young and attractive people purely for audience approval.

As for the characteristics of Capaldi, being madder and sterner than Smith, surely the point of every new Doctor to bring something new to the party, to expose another of the many sides to the infamous Time Lord!

Ben Wheatley confirmed this week that Capaldi’s era as the titular Time Lord will hark back to the ‘Classic Who’ period, bringing the show very much back to it’s roots.

In conclusion Peter Capaldi should be very different to Matt Smith, otherwise it’s less of a regeneration, and more of a recasting!

What do you think? Leave your thoughts and opinions below:


  1. CosmicDebris on February 10, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    “I always will be [The Doctor]. But times change, and so must I… we all change. When you think about it, we are all different people, all through our lives and that’s okay, that’s good! You’ve gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the doctor was me.”

    Doctor Who is a show that has always thrived on constant change. Some of the transitions from one doctor to another have been a huge change, maybe even more than Capaldi will bring. Producers, writers, directors, editors, companions, they all keep changing, yet, somehow it’s always the same old Doctor Who at heart. That’s what is so intriguing about it!

  2. Nathan on February 11, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    You never want your Doctors to be too similar. Everyone who still complains about wanting Smith or Tennant back simply don’t understand the nature of the show. The only constant in Doctor Who is change. The Doctor himself continues to age and change as a person. If people really wanted him to remain the same, we’d still have the dubious, grumpy William Hartnell.
    You can all have your favorite writers, directors, and even Doctors if you must, but that doesn’t mean the current ones are bad. If you don’t enjoy Moffat, Smith, or Capaldi, then stop watching. If you don’t like the change, go back to wherever it is you enjoyed it, drop off your fan card, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  3. CosmicDebris on February 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    That’s a bit more harsh then I’d put it; I don’t think it’s wise to tell people to leave a fandom if they don’t like some aspects of it. I’d say go back and start watching lots of classic Who from the beginning if you haven’t recently, it helps put change in perspective. 😉 Imagine how fans must have felt with Tom Baker left after 7 seasons and was replaced by 29-year-old Peter Davison.

    As for companions, in the past when the doctor was older, they tended to add a younger male companion to the cast. They’ve done that to a smaller degree recently with Micky, Jack, and Rory, but I wouldn’t mind seeing someone as center-stage as Jamie McCrimmon was again. Or just anything other than young modern day England female.

    Also, I wouldn’t worry too much about Clara and the Doctor. There may have been some sort of schoolboy/girl crush between them but I felt like by the end of the season finale it had become something else.

  4. Jack M on February 13, 2014 at 2:17 am

    The doctor has a whole new regeneration ‘cycle’ ..What I think this means is that for every new regeneration from now on, He will be looking younger again!.. That’s what I hope Moffat was thinking of, Otherwise casting Capaldi was a bad move, But tbh I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us! I’m not sure, But I think i’ve seen his screwdriver (Probably just a rumor or a mock design) But it looks EVIL! 😀

  5. CosmicDebris on February 13, 2014 at 3:31 am

    It doesn’t work that way. Regeneration is more or less random under most circumstances. Several doctors have regenerated into older actors than their predecessor. Steve Moffat was looking to cast someone in their 40’s for the 11th doctor,but he happened to be very impressed with Smith’s audition…and that’s what it always comes down to, they just look for the right actor regardless of age.

  6. asdf on February 13, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    A new cycle means 12 new regenerations. We have Hurt as 8.5 and TWO Tennants (the ep where he is about to regenerate but channels it into his severed hand — eventually leading to a whole second Tennant). Without those two, they could have waited until Capaldi’s successor before they’d have run out of regenerations, but I think they wanted to clear the decks for the 50th anniversary. Moffat is very much into the show’s history and mythology, so he might have wanted to take care of the continuity problem before they were forced to, and maybe was worried that another show runner would mishandle it.

    This article leaves me cold. The demands for a black or woman actor seemed heavy handedly political — and wasn’t widespread except from media elites. Don’t get me wrong, if the right actor is from an ethnic minority or is a woman, then great, but otherwise why hitch Doctor Who to a political agenda? Fans wanted a good actor, not a check box.

    Also, while Matt Smith has earned some very positive reviews and no doubt has his supporters, where are the legions of fans who prefer him to Tennant? If the author is going to say that she prefers Smith, then fine. There’s a great case to be made. But don’t hide behind a false consensus that this is a majority or even widespread opinion.

  7. asdf on February 13, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    With Capaldi, they’re trying to go back to the middle aged doctors of the classic series. They’re also going for someone who’s less hero, more weird alien.

    They’ve done this twice before. The first was when Jon Pertwee regenerated into Tom Baker. Very different performances but two of the best takes on the role in the series. This regeneration was an unalloyed success.

    The second time they tried it was when Peter Davison regenerated into Colin Baker. Now, like any good Whovian I’ll immediately clarify that Baker is a brilliant actor saddled with terrible writing and some toxic BBC office politics. But it’s hard to argue that this was in any way successful.

    Obviously, with Capaldi, people are hoping that he’ll be a Tom Baker rather than a Colin Baker. And only time will tell.

  8. CosmicDebris on February 13, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Troughton was a big change from Hartnell, Pertwee was a major departure from Troughton. The show changing from Black and White to Color and the idea of the Doctor being exiled on earth and operating as UNIT’s advisor was also a quite a departure for the show. And Peter Davison was quite a contrast to Tom Baker, and he was the first Doctor that WASN’T 40-55 years old.

    Tom Baker was quite weird, but he was certainly very heroic.

  9. Impromptu on March 1, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Not all of them had romantic links to each other?

    None of them did, until the modern era started teasing about timelord libido.

    I’m not even sure it’s true to say that Clara does. The spoilers seem to suggest she’s going to have a hard time dealing with the change, but I don’t think it’ll necessarily be for reasons of lust. Which is interesting since (on some level) she’s seen more Doctors than any other companion – all of them, in fact.

    It’s also traditional that transitional companions have trouble handling it.

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