Doctor Who News Doctor Who continues: Peter Capaldi is the Twelfth Doctor

Published on November 30th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

At 55, Peter Capaldi Is Not Old – Deal With It, Kids!

Ageism. It’s a nasty word, with a nasty attitude. Twenty is ancient when you’re five, but you’re still going there in 15 years’ time. As for 55, well, once you’re forty – when life begins, of course – you’re staring that big number in the eye.

Time flies in the blink of an eye as we mature. Some older people seem to be more able than others; looking around a regular town centre, however, you’ll spot people of your own age group who may or may not be as able as you. Age, ultimately, is immaterial.

So comments about Peter Capaldi’s age – 55, and not particularly old if he lives to be 90 – leave a particularly bad taste in the mouth, especially when Doctor Who showrunner observes:

People keep talking about this ‘elderly’ Doctor that we’ve cast… he leaps around the place probably more than any other Doctor in that first scene.

Some ridiculously immature types have even taken to commenting on Capaldi’s age here on Kasterborous, suggesting that an older Doctor will in some way “ruin” the show. Presumably in the same way 55-year-old William Hartnell and 50-year-old Jon Pertwee did back in the day.

Moffat has more to add on the matter of Capaldi’s youth. Speaking at last week’s Doctor Who Celebration, he said:

We’ve got used to two brilliant iterations of the younger, more popular Doctor and they have both been superlative. But now it’s time for the old beast to snarl at you for a bit!

Sometimes you see that a bit in Matt Smith’s Doctor – he will remind the people around him, ‘I’m not really like this’ – but I think Peter’s Doctor will make that even clearer.

So, a great actor cast in a great role. Many felt in 2010 that Matt Smith was too young at 26; they thought the same in 1981 when Peter Davison was cast. Neither failed to convince as the Doctor – so why should Peter Capaldi?



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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

80 Responses to At 55, Peter Capaldi Is Not Old – Deal With It, Kids!

  1. People who complain (aside from those fans who just get regeneration angst in general) that Capaldi is “too old” generally fit into one of a handful of categories:

    1) Fangirls who want the Doctor to be young and “hot”
    2) Fanboys who want the Doctor to be young and “hot”
    3) Fans who know squat about the show’s history
    4) Fans who wanted the Doctor to regenerate back into David Tennant

    Number 3 is a hurdle that, in some cases, can be overcome. There’s not much hope for the others, and those types I generally just ignore.

    • I think you pretty much nailed it, but then again the Doctor could be an 80 year old Korean man and fanboys/girls would still find a way to ship him.

      • avatar R. L. Wicke says:

        That’s absolutely true.

    • avatar Giovanni says:

      Also those who dishonor or respect the elders as it seems customary to do for some younger folks.

    • avatar Matt B says:

      Spot on mate.

  2. avatar Matt B says:

    The fans who won’t grow with the show, never will shut up. They still want RTD back, they still want David back.

    Peter is perfect for the role…been a fan of his since his debut in Bill Forseyth’s wonderful Local Hero…for god sake…they won’t be happy Till Harry Styles is the Time Lord. The reason Matt Smith was so wonderful, was because he was a mad professor in this young person’s body. Yes he dated a Model…but Who is not about creating sex symbols its about the strong stories and great perfomance’s.

    • avatar simon magellan says:

      I recently read a comment on another forum that went “After the failure of Day of the Doctor, it’s time for Moffat to go before he ruins Capaldi’s Doctor too”. I have long suspected that, if you give some (so called) fans a gold bar they’d complain it wasn’t shiny enough…

  3. Bill Hartnell was 55 and wore a wig and makeup to play older as the Doctor. John Hurt is seventy plus and did a great job in the 50th.! So, a kid like Capaldi should do just fine!
    For the record, I am 60 and I am NOT old!!!

  4. avatar MWRuger says:

    Honestly, one of the reasons I really like Donna Noble was because she was an adult. I’m with this.

    • avatar Michelle says:

      I wholeheartedly agree!!

      • avatar vortexter says:

        Totally agree. Why does every companion have to be a young ‘Yoof’? Evelyn Smyth in the Big Finish series was a refreshing change in a show which is aimed at all ages.

  5. I really am pleased we are getting an older Doctor, maybe all the kissing will stop now! I want it to go to the sort of Jamie, Victoria, Doctor … Tegan, Turlough, Doctor dynamic. I loved it when Rory joined the Team. I like a Male and Female companion with the Doctor!

    • avatar krumstets says:

      What about a male only companion in the future ? Or two male companions ?

    • avatar Ironica says:

      I’m agree, but… why a 50-something cannot kiss? ;)

  6. avatar liz says:

    TY! im SICK of hearing the words “Elderly” an “Old” for a man whos ONLY 55~~~~~~~~~!!!

  7. avatar GallifreyanFallenAngel says:

    Yeah, I know kids at school still unconvinced about Peter Capaldi, or just unsure. Some of it has to do with his previous appearances (even though in Doctor Who, it was an unimportant, one off role, and Torchwood, the Doctor doesn’t really know about, I don’t think anyways), and some of it with age. I don’t think that Twelve is shaping up to be a geeky type boy as Ten and Eleven, but I don’t think he’ll be completely humorless.

    Well, I fit into the age and gender group often despised by some fans, and I’m just fine with a 55 year old Scotsman playing the Doctor.

  8. avatar Melinda says:

    people really need to get over the age thing. He’s the same age as Hartnell was when the show started! And everyone loved John Hurt as the War Doctor so why not Capaldi?

    • avatar simon magellan says:

      I believe Hurt’s Doctor was a very good way of introducing the possibility of an older Doctor to fans who, brought up on recent youngish ones, may not have given the idea much thought before. It certainly worked, and if Capaldi is half as good as Hurt, we will be in for a new Golden Age!

  9. avatar Danni says:

    Modern-day society considers 30 to be the impending doom of a person’s prime… 50 is considered elderly…. and that’s really sad, especially in an age where the majority of people live well into their 80′s-90′s.

    On another note, part of me is terrified that actors in their 30′s-50′s will begin feeling washed-up…. That’s just not true at all…. :/
    I find the possibility of there being no room for 30′s-upwards in our culture these days to be a very disturbing concept…
    I fully expect brilliant things from our new Doctor, even if it does mean losing my Raggedy Man. <3

    • avatar Danni says:

      ( This coming from a nineteen-year-old. )

  10. avatar Alister Karl says:

    I’m sorry, but Mat has never really convinced me. I am very excited to have Capaldi as the next doctor. Some one with actual gravity about him! I grew up with older doctors and can’t wait to see this one.

    • avatar simon magellan says:

      I’ve recently heard very similar sentiments from a number of general viewers who haven’t watched the show much with Smith but are really looking forward to Capaldi, so I think those teenies who do leave because they want a young Doctor will be replaced by older fans coming back to the show.

  11. avatar faeryedark says:

    I think it’s great! I’m excited young or mature. Let’s go!!!

  12. avatar TimeChaser says:

    I was 28 when Matt was cast, and it seemed a bit off kilter that for once I was older than the actor playing the Doctor. I have loved him in the role since, and he definitely matured into it without also losing his quirky physicality. But in a way, with Capaldi, balance is now restored. I look forward to seeing what he will bring to the role, and I hope (as Matt and David did before) he will put his naysayers to rest.

  13. I was really hoping for an older doctor again, so I am not going to complain about Capaldi’s age… in any event I think the age of the actor that plays the doctor is largely irrelevant to the character, and should be to the fans as well.

  14. avatar NewWhovian31 says:

    The Doctor has always been old. Being a new Whovian and just starting to discover the classic Doctor Who I can’t wait for Peter Capaldi. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Eccleston, I’m sad to see Smith go, and Tennant will always be my Doctor but I would like to see the Doctor as he’s always been.

  15. avatar David F says:

    To be fair, I haven’t heard anyone saying he’s too old. I’ve heard lots of people defending him against the charge of being old, but not the charge itself. Maybe I haven’t been hanging round on the right forums.

    I have quite a few young female friends, including lots of Americans, who are into Doctor Who, and spend most of their time talking about how hot David Tennant is. But they, too, have been nothing but enthusiastic about Capaldi.

  16. avatar Gary says:

    60 is the new 30, for men anyways.

    How many more times do I have to say that before I stop giggling afterwards?

  17. avatar Melinda says:

    He does look older than 55 but well, as long as he doesn’t have any serious health issues, who cares. I’m just happy that he’s an avid fan of Doctor Who. I still remember that people complained about Matt Smith since they considered him to be too young. (Imo, he did an amazing job.) Still, I understand if people are upset about a young actor playing the Doctor since younger ones lack experience – but why the heck is age such a big deal? I saw the 50th anniversary in a cinema a week ago and some people maintained that David Tennant looks much older and that he gained weight. I had to check my cinema ticket twice in order to make sure that I wasn’t about to see Twilight.

  18. avatar Lozzer says:

    An actor of this calibre will hit the role running, he doesn’t need a series to bed in, he’s been rehearsing for the past 40 years. 55… The brilliant Nick Cave is 55, he’s making the best music of his career, and is touring the world as we speak. I’ve not been this excited about a new Doctor since the series came back in 2005.

    • avatar Matt B says:

      Yup look at Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, Springsteen,errrr Dylan…some of the best music of their lives Nelson’s 80 ish for f..k sake. Some of the best Artists give their best performances when they are older, Capaldi won’s a Oscar for christ’s sake…..that’s what is great about the series its ability to change…but the chracter still being this mystery. Anyway my mate is a Actor/Director…said that one of his actresses said he was sexy she’s only 21…enuff said.

  19. avatar Paul Williams says:

    When Capaldi was announced I know a couple of female fans who thought he was a bit old.

    Of course, both of them are 10 years old, which puts it into context!

  20. avatar Paul Morris says:

    I’m unconvinced about Capaldi, he hasn’t done anything yet. He could be the worth thing to happen – after Tennent, RTD, Moffat and Smith.

    • avatar Geoff says:

      An I right here? Are you saying you don’t like Peter Capaldi, Matt Smitj, David Tennant, RTD and Steven Moffat? Ever think that perhaps this isn’t really for you?

      • avatar Paul Morris says:

        How can I comment about Capaldi? He hasn’t done any DW yet. As for the rest – overacting and terrible scripts, Stories that don’t give answers, a showrunner that wants to erase the first 5 years of NuWho? The Doctor falling in love. Its pathetic!

        • avatar TimeChaser says:

          Is it really fun over there in your sad little corner?

        • Hasn’t done any Doctor Who? Troll off, fool.

          • avatar Paul Morris says:

            A photograph of his eyes does not maketh an appearance.

          • Seems my last remark went completely over your head.

            I don’t think commenting is for you :)

        • avatar TimeChaser says:

          Obviously you haven’t seen him in either The Fires of Pompeii or Torchwood: Children of Earth. He HAS appeared in Doctor Who and related media. So your assertion is essentially incorrect. And besides, could you fairly judge any of the previous eleven actors on your assumption that they hadn’t done any Doctor Who yet before they were cast? Look into an actor’s body of work, that will show you their potential.

          • avatar Paul Morris says:

            He hasn’t PLAYED the Doctor,yet! Is that clearer?

        • avatar TimeChaser says:

          Neither had any of the other eleven actors, as I said. Just because someone hasn’t played the Doctor yet doesn’t mean you can judge them by that. Your argument is circular and irrational.

          • avatar Paul Morris says:

            I haven’tjdged him. 90% of this thread have, by saying he’ll be a great Doctor.I’ve only offeredcaution at least wait til his first episode to praise him.

          • avatar Matt B says:

            Yea and farting aliens is genius of course, turning Doctor Who into on big camp joke….just becauzse the show runner has a massive chip on his shoulder about being gay…yea brill.

        • avatar TimeChaser says:

          You have judged him though, in your very first statement, saying he could be the worst thing ever. You criticize us for our optimism when you’ve done the exact same thing but being pessimistic about it.

          • avatar Paul Morris says:

            He could be, not he will be.

    • avatar David F says:

      Just for clarity: Are you saying that he’ll be the worst thing to happen, coming after the great success of those four . . . Or that those four are the worst thing to happen and he’ll be even worse?

      And if the latter, are you saying that all four/five of them are worse than everything else in Who history, including Pip and Jane Baker?

    • avatar TimeChaser says:

      Unconvinced about a man who is a life-long fan of the series as well as an accomplished actor/director/etc. with a significant career behind him?

    • avatar liz says:

      WHY would he be the worst thing?

    • avatar Al says:

      Working around the auto-correct gone mad… Look at the photo. In 2 seconds Capaldi gave DOTD it’s most dynamic moment, and you say that’s nothing?

    • “he hasn’t done anything yet.”

      Other than give you a look of utter disgust in the final act of The Day of the Doctor.

      Yes, Paul Morris, he was looking at you.

      • avatar A Madman With a Box says:

        That was pure gold!

  21. avatar Al says:

    Excellent article. A related issue is the attitude that just because he’s 55, that disqualifies any possibility of further shipping with Clara. Ridiculous.

    • avatar simon magellan says:

      Is “shipping” a euphemism or a typo?!

  22. avatar mrjohnm says:

    I’ve said it on a Yahoo! post, so now I’ll repeat myself here. One of the best things about the new series is how I can relate certain episodes to the literature I teach high school students. The Shakespeare Code, Blink, and The Christmas Carol are just a few that I’ve been able to use in my class. When I heard about Capaldi’s casting, my first thought was that we were finally getting an actor who was old enough to be the Doctor. After seeing him in Fortysomething with Hugh Laurie, I know he’s a great actor and look forward to seeing him in this role. My second thought, however, was on how the younger generation I teach would take to this older version. But when my wife and I saw the anniversary special in the local theater, the audience, mainly females in their teens and early 20′s, cheered enthusiastically when Capaldi was briefly seen near the end of the film. So, I think he’s already been accepted and can’t wait for his first season as the Doctor to start!

    • avatar A Madman With a Box says:

      I wish I had you as my teacher, all w study is Shakespeare.

  23. The moment I was told that Smith was leaving, I immediately knew I wanted an older Doctor. I admit to being a “fangirl” in all senses of the word. I am partial to Tennant but that doesn’t mean I want him back in the role.

    Yes, it was a really nice treat to see him don the brown suit and Converse again but I love the versatility of the show itself. The concept of its everchanging nature is something that all fans should come to accept.

    When I saw McGann in the 50th prequel, I realized that I had been missing a more “serious” and dramatic tone for the show. I enjoyed Smith’s childlike wonder but, I’m ready now for a grittier and darker theme.

  24. avatar Uberduck says:

    This might be simplistic but if you love Dr Who then you will always watch it and enjoy it no matter who plays The Doctor. I climbed on board in 1970 and I’ve seen the series change many many times since then… but I’ve always watched it because no matter how I may sometimes feel alienated by it I know the feeling will pass as the show changes so frequently (often season by season)… i was dubious of Matt Smith because he is almost half my age, so ageism came into play, yes, but he proved me so very wrong within 5 minutes of his first appearance… that finally taught me to keep an open mind about the show, always… personally I have been spoiled rotten this year with wonderful new Who material and I can’t wait for Christmas and 2014 to see what Mr Capaldi will do with the role.,.. Just relax everyone, .. Bottom line – it’s a TV show, don’t pre-judge, but if you don’t enjoy it simply shut up and switch channels :)

  25. avatar Yup says:

    I think the hardcore fans are making up reasons to piss and moan just to have something to complain about to boost their superiority complex. Where are you guys hearing so many complaints about Capaldi’s age that you feel the need to create an endless stream of blog posts, Tweets, and YouTube videos waxing on and on and on endlessly about how everyone needs to get over themselves and accept Capaldi?

    From what I can see, pretty much everyone already HAS accepted Capaldi. Regardless of who their favorite Doctor is, every Whovian that I have encountered is thrilled with the casting (with the exception of one who, believe it or not, said that they actually wanted the 12th Doctor to be John Hurt). Capaldi is going to be a badass Doctor.

    Really, the only person that I know of who balked at the casting is my roommate, who DOESN’T EVEN WATCH THE SHOW so she doesn’t even count. Because yes, those of us who like David Tennant and think he is hot really do think that Capaldi was an excellent choice. I know it’s hard for you guys to believe, and I know how badly you guys want to pretend this isn’t true just so you can have an excuse to be as insulting and offensive as possible, but believe me, we are ready and willing and waiting for Capaldi to grace our screens.

    Trying to defend Capaldi is like Chicken Little shouting that the sky is falling when it really isn’t. Everyone is excited for Capaldi! Believe it!

    Honestly, this is not some big controversy. Just stop writing about it already.

    • avatar David F says:

      Yeah, we do seem to be defending him against a non- (or barely) existent attack. We’re just over-protective of our hobby, I guess. Maybe it’s a vestigial instinct from the old days when we were marginalised from the mainstream and subjected to ridicule. We can’t quite bring ourselves to believe in a positive consensus. Ah well.

    • “I think the hardcore fans are making up reasons to piss and moan just to have something to complain about to boost their superiority complex. Where are you guys hearing so many complaints about Capaldi’s age that you feel the need to create an endless stream of blog posts, Tweets, and YouTube videos waxing on and on and on endlessly about how everyone needs to get over themselves and accept Capaldi?”

      What tweets? What YouTube videos? What endless stream? Are you addressing Kasterborous? What are you talking about? It’s one post, not a library.

      “People keep talking about this ‘elderly’ Doctor that we’ve cast…”- Steven Moffat

      That’s from the showrunner. Clearly everyone hasn’t accepted Capaldi if SM is talking about it in the press.

      So, um, stop attempting to dictate our content, already.

      • avatar simon magellan says:

        When he was first announced I saw quite a few “he’s too old. I’ll never watch it again” comments posted on various sites – so not every “fan” had/has accepted him. I think the appearance of Hurt’s Doctor has done a lot to help pave the way for an older Doctor (he’s only 7 years older than me, so I’m not calling him elderly!) – makes me wonder if that was in Moffat’s mind when he went for a much older actor for his “mayfly” Doctor?

  26. avatar Sam Shepherd says:

    I’ve never thought Peter Capaldi is too old – I don’t think an 80 year old would be too old either – the Doctor is over 1000 years old so any age is appropriate!

    On top of that, my dad’s older than Peter Capaldi and he’s much fitter than I am!

  27. avatar DonnaM says:

    I’ve seen very few negative comments here about Capaldi’s age – one or two perhaps. Elsewhere – yes, they’re about. Just take a look at the Digital Spy forum or certain newspaper comment pages! Personally I was much more bothered about a 26-year-old taking the role last time…

    It’s a sad truth of modern life that while we’re generally living longer, the fixation being “young-and-therefore-attractive” is ever stronger. Most of those infantile bleaters about Peter’s age will learn once they get past 30, and those that don’t – well, they deserve nothing but pity (and a big box to store their face creams in!)

    He’s an exceptional actor and everything I’ve heard Moffat say about his Doctor makes me more enthusiastic about his casting. It’s about time we had a Doctor who can snarl when he needs to again. My one major issue, both with Matt and David, is that they’ve been too “nice” and not authoritative enough!

  28. avatar Ian Gettings says:

    Actually, after Peter Davison, i had serious doubts about Colin Baker. At the time, my doubts turned out to be right. After Matt Smith, Capaldi will hopefully be superb, but I don’t get the out and out horror at the choice (if there is any) and the out and out excitement. I will wait till it happens. I’m afraid, fo rme, the age thing is a concern as I am not convinced it will appeal to teens, twinks and tweenies. In the seventies and sixties we were used to having older authority figure perhaps. In the modern age the media has promoted youth and looks. Doctor Who has turned that somewhat with the geek hero, but not sure the mass audience is ready in light of a modern climate of suspicion about older men, to accept a man who has spent some of the last 8 years snogging his companions being more mature.
    Sorry – just hoping it all does work out, but I will wait and see.

    • avatar simon magellan says:

      One of the biggest TV shows in the UK – higher ratings than DW often – is “New Tricks”, which features a cast all well into their fifties. The US has many hit shows with leading men of this age – NCIS and CSI both spring to mind. While we may lose kids who think 35 is retirement age, we might well gain a whole new audience in their place.

      • avatar Ian Gettings says:

        I hope so – just noticed that my comments could seem a little offensive if you read them in the wrong way. But yeah, hope it is popular. I personally like that the Doc will seem more mature now, but I do worry about the show :)

  29. avatar yorkshirened says:

    Anyone who thinks Capaldi is too old simply doesn’t know *&%$ about Doctor Who.

    or life

  30. Perhaps the people who are carping about Capaldi’s age should just pipe down and wait to see what he brings to the show. I have a feeling they’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  31. avatar Paddy says:

    There’s no problem with a 55-year old Doctor. He’s only a year older than Paul McGann and he KILLED it in Night of the Doctor. I’m really looking forward to seeing Capaldi in the role, haven’t been this excited about a new Doctor in a while (having not been familiar with either Tennant or Smith before their casting).

    • avatar TimeChaser says:

      That’s a good point to make. People had been clamoring for Paul to come back, and the intervening seventeen years didn’t affect his playing the Doctor in the slightest.

  32. avatar Jeff G says:

    Capaldi will be great! Moffet needs to go for crimes against Whovians.

  33. avatar Capaldikicksass. says:

    Oh I am so glad I chose my name! hehe he is going to kick serious ass!! cant wait for our Awesome New Doctor!!

  34. avatar CatPiper says:

    I watched Day of the Doctor with my 81-year-old mother, and when John Hurt came on she said “He’s a bit old to play the Doctor”! Yep, it’s certainly the fangirls you need to watch out for.

  35. avatar Ranger says:

    Everyone is entitled to their own view – if people think he is too old after watching his first series, then fair enough – it’s up to them to decide if they stick with the show or not. Personally, I was one of those who thought Smith was too young and I never went back on that view, but I stuck with the show because I am a Doctor Who fan, and a new Doctor will always come around who may be more to your taste. I can’t wait for Capaldi to begin because I feel we are going to get a more authorative Doctor and possibily a little less running around. It was all getting a bit too frantic for me.

  36. avatar Russ says:

    It’s simple, to not understand or dislike the casting of Capaldi on grounds of age is simply to not understand Dr Who.

  37. avatar CMartin says:

    Peter Capaldi is an excellent actor and I am with every other post that says they love the element of change in the show. It keeps it fresh and exciting, even when you don’t want the change to happen. I have loved Matt Smith in the role and will miss him terribly…but equally I am excited to see where Peter Capaldi can take his interpretation.

    It’s all good.

  38. avatar Howard Railton says:

    Davison admitted later that he was too young to do the part properly, he hadn’t the experience and the gravitas to carry it off, he felt out of his depth but he won through by sticking with the role for his 3 years and making the audience warm to him (he was popular and high-profile already which helped). But it remains to be said that the casting of ever younger actors has had a detrimental effect upon the character of the Doctor. Moffat obviously has become aware of this lack and has cast wisely with Capaldi and may yet bring the character back on the right track. The alternative is to keep going younger till we end up with some silly 12 year old which means Who ends up on CBEEBies!

    Thank God for the casting of Capaldi.

    With the Chancellor continually raising retirement, Capaldi’s should probably be viewed as the new 35…

  39. avatar Geminas says:

    Something for you to think about:

    The Time Lords gave The Doctor, Matt Smitt, a new set of regenerations when their question was answered by Clara(or am I getting her confused with someone else). When the Doctor regenerated, he looked much older. This might be BECAUSE of the new set of regenerations. The show started with an old Doctor on his first regeneration, and now it’s back to a Doctor who looks old, in comparison to the last few Doctors there has been, on the NEW first regeneration. Just think about this if you don’t agree with an older Doctor. If you give Mr. Capaldi a chance, you might like him.

    • avatar Matt B says:

      Fantasic, I wish I could have put it better. Just backing up what you said, it’s the media who have put up these perceptions that Doctor Who has to be below 30. Matt was cast because
      of his audition. Capaldi was cast becuase he is write for the direction that Moff want’s to take the show. The perception of the show need’s to be less glitzy…and I think Moff will take it back to that.

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