Peter Capaldi warns against treating Doctor Who as a 'marketable item'

Doctor Who will only work as long as it’s made by those who love it, says the man who plays the 12th incarnation of the Doctor.

Peter Capaldi and Jenn Coleman in Doctor Who

Capaldi is a self-confessed, lifelong fan of Doctor Who and had little hesitation in accepting the part of the Doctor. He soon discovered he was surrounded on the show by other enthusiasts, committed to its success.

"You’ll find a lot of people who make Doctor Who are huge fans," he tells Classic FM’s Charlotte Green on her Culture Club (Sunday 23 November, 3pm). "I don't really know what its appeal is – but those who get it, get it very powerfully. And it’s very loved. So when you have people who have that response to it, it makes it work."

And it will only work, the actor says, "if it is made by those who love it and not by those who think it’s a marketable item".

"You have to not kowtow to the brand," he tells Charlotte, and instead, "embrace the spirit of the show".

The actor believes that his passion for the show over decades has helped him to understand instinctively a "whole pile of things" about the character. 

"I'm not coming from the outside, I’m coming from the inside," he says.

In August this year, the actor along with co-star Jenna Coleman and Doctor Who writer Steven Moffatt, embarked on a 12-day world tour that took in seven cities - from Cardiff, via Seoul and Mexico City, to Rio de Janeiro. 

The actor says the adoration of the show overseas was a huge surprise to him. 

"We sort of see it as a very British programme from that era of early 1960s fog and coughing and milk bottles and stuff," he says. "But it is universally loved."

Tens of thousands of fans came out to meet them on the tour. Asking them why they relate to Doctor Who so much, Capaldi discovered that the most common response was ‘escapism’. 

"It’s the idea that the TARDIS can show up in your backyard and you can escape," he says.

Before taking on the role of the Doctor, Capaldi was best known for his role of bad-tempered spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It , a part he played for seven years.  But it seems his foul-mouthed days are well and truly behind him.

"I don’t really swear very much in real life," Capaldi tells Charlotte Green, "and since I became Doctor Who , I don't really like to indulge. So as much as I’d like to decorate your website with some terrible, sweary bon mots , I think it’s best if I don't.”

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