There is insurrection amongst the Scottish Who-mafia! David Tennant has accused his countryman and successor-in-waiting, Peter Capaldi, of being ‘lazy’ if he uses his native Scottish accent to play the part of the Twelfth Doctor. Fellow Scot, Steven Moffat is “pretty certain” Capaldi will use his own accent when he debuts this Christmas. Now Tennant is obviously indulging in friendly media-banter, but it raises a fair question – should the Doctor sound English?
When Christopher Eccleston brought the character back to our screens in 2005 he used his own Mancunian accent, prompting Rose to challenge him on his alien credentials and his famous reply, that “lots of planets have a North!” But the fact that it matters at all begs the question of what features make up a character when their body and personality can completely change every few years…
Every time a new actor steps into the role, debate rages over whether the Doctor could or should be a woman or a different ethnicity. Arguably the way we speak is almost as important to how we see our own or anyone’s identity. For example, while I would be more than happy with an actor of any ethnic background in the role, I’m not sure I could believe that a Doctor with a strong American or French accent was really the same character… but perhaps someday I’ll be proven wrong. The fact is most English people speak with a regional accent and don’t really sound like the Doctor.
One concern might be that Capaldi’s Scots accent encouraging closer comparison with his role as bad-mouthed spin-doctor, Malcolm Tucker, in The Thick of It. Be that as it may. I’m sure I remember McCoy giving us a subtly Scottish Doctor back in the 80s and this won’t be the first time the character’s accent has strayed North of the border. So whether it’s a soft Caledonian brogue, Glaswegian growl or ‘Queen’s English’, what do you think? Should the Doctor sound English -or British- or could any accent work?