Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi on his 'emotional' final episode

Ryan Leston
UK Movies Writer

The ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special is just around the corner.

And it’s Peter Capaldi’s final stint as The Doctor.

During the BAFTA Cymru awards, I caught up with The Twelfth Doctor himself, Peter Capaldi, who told me more about his upcoming final episode – the 2017 Christmas Special.

And it was clearly a rather emotional shoot.

“The whole atmosphere was tinged a little – we don’t talk about it [laughs]. It was an emotional time, and if you talk about it, you’re going to start crying… so I just get on with it.”

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“I’ve said often, and I mean it, you know the crew of people that we have here in Cardiff working on Doctor Who is an extraordinary crew,” he explained. “They’re so good at what they do but they’re so kind and they’re so nice to be around. A lot of them were moving on also, so it wasn’t just my last day.”

The episode, titled ‘Twice Upon A Time’, features the Twelfth Doctor encountering a much earlier incarnation of himself – the very First Doctor, originally played by William Hartnell.

This time around, he’s played by the brilliant David Bradley… and it sounds as though his performance is going to be one to remember.

“He doesn’t do an impression of the First Doctor, but he kind of evokes him,” explained Capaldi. “He’s the most successful evocation of him, I think. A lot of people have had a go, but as someone who grew up with the first Doctor, and can remember what that was like, what he was like, I would turn around sometimes and look at him on set, and be transported back to being a child and seeing William Hartnell – who was amazing.”

“When you grew up with that, it’s a very, very special place in your heart,” he added. “But yes, he was good. And David is such a lovely man – I really like David as an actor and as a person.”

David Bradley is perhaps best known as Filch from the ‘Harry Potter’ series, but has also appeared in the likes of ‘Broadchurch’ and ‘Game of Thrones’.

Known for his grim-faced look, it sounds as though Peter had a tough time reconciling his gentler appearance as the First Doctor… and it made for some interesting moments on set.

“It was very unusual for David, as sometimes he has a face that you think ‘I wouldn’t like to bump into him’ but in fact I would like to bump into him. He’s a good laugh. But of course, he was wearing the William Hartnell wig and all that, and one day I saw him coming out of makeup without the William Hartnell wig, and he looked like his Game of Thrones character because he has that kind of grim face, and he looked quite scary. It’s strange – he doesn’t look scary as William Hartnell. It’s a very kind, very, very gentle performance.”

It’s not just David Bradley who’s making an special appearance.

‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Sherlock’ writer Mark Gatiss will also appear alongside Peter Capaldi during the Twelfth Doctor’s send-off.

“It’s lovely, because Mark and I haven’t acted together”, he explained. “I’ve known him for some time and I’m always a big admirer of his, but it’s very unusual in the respect that, often you find that people who are very good at writing and are also actors are not necessarily so good at acting, or vice versa. He’s actually great at both – a wonderful, wonderful actor and I was really happy to work with him.”

“I think he brings so much truthfulness, and authority, and richness to the work he does,” he added. “He’s a very, very talented person so it was great to finally work with him… and he didn’t disappoint. He delivers.”

But who is he playing?

And what do we know about the enigmatic character?

At the moment, that’s a bit of a secret. His character is referred to only as ‘The Captain’, and as we see in the trailer, he’s been trapped within a single moment in time – a sort of no man’s land for the weary time travellers.

But he could be playing the real-life creator of the blue Police Boxes.

The folks at the Radio Times noticed a particular line which stood out in the recent trailer, when Mark Gatiss’ character says: “These Police Boxes – they’re ever so good, aren’t they?” And that might be a hint that ‘The Captain’ is actually Gilbert MacKenzie-Trench – the First World War soldier who designed the iconic blue Police Boxes back in 1929.

I asked Peter Capaldi if that was the case… but he unfortunately played coy.

What he did reveal, is that the episode hasn’t quite finished filming. And there’s still some details about his final episode that he isn’t quite clear about.

“The truth is, it isn’t quite finished,” he explained. “I have to go and do a pile of ADR and there’s been rewrites on it, so it’s not quite done. There may be things going on that I don’t know about, and I will only know about when I do it. So, it’s not quite finished yet.”

‘Doctor Who’ returns to BBC One on 25 December 2017.

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