So who’s Who? The impending revelation of the actor chosen to play the 12th Doctor Who has got the blogosphere in a right old two and eight. A bizarre list of names, seemingly based on a combination of wishful thinking, wild speculation and perhaps some very deliberate misinformation, has been being bandied around for months.
Will the new Doctor be a woman? Will he or she be black? Will they be young or old? Such questions seem to be of extraordinary importance to the obsessive Whovians following everything and anything that might offer a clue as to the identity of the latest incarnation of their time-travelling hero.
All will be revealed this evening when the BBC broadcasts a programme unveiling the identity of the actor who will replace departing Doctor Who Matt Smith when he regenerates at the end of this year’s Christmas Special.
The fact that the existence of this bean-spiller was itself kept under wraps until this weekend gives some idea of the level of secrecy employed by the BBC to keep Doctor Who’s wow factor intact.
However speculation remains the name of the game and the fact that Zoe Ball will be hosting the programme has sparked a flurry of suggestions that this is virtual proof that the keys to the Tardis are about to be handed to a woman for the first time.
All I know is that the current bookies favourite is Peter Capaldi – possibly because he’s skinny and Scottish just like David Tennant. A few weeks ago it was Rory Kinnear in poll position but his odds lengthened rapidly when he revealed that, unlike Capaldi who’s a complete Doctor Who nut, he’s never seen a single episode.
If it is Capaldi it will be interesting when young Doctor Who fans start seeking out his previous work on Youtube and find that their new favourite Timelord used to be Malcolm Tucker, the ranting foul-mouthed political spin-doctor from The Thick Of It.
Whoever plays the 12th Doctor it will take an encouraging leap of faith from the producers to cast anyone other than a white, male and probably British actor.
At least that’s the view of one Doctor Who aficionado who I interviewed for a magazine recently. This 41-year-old college administrator, a lifelong fan of the series who collects memorabilia and dresses like the Doctor, told me:
“I’m afraid that core fans are so blinkered they won’t accept anything but a white male actor.” That’s not all. Apparently he needs to be eccentric in manner and appearance too. Flying through time in a converted 1960s Police Telephone Box clearly isn’t strange enough. “Christopher Ecclestone managed to upset diehard fans by wearing ordinary clothes. There are some very fixed ideas about what Doctor Who should be like.”
We wait to see. I have an idea mind you that the time has come to take a few risks. By the way if you need a reminder of the astonishing changing fortunes of Doctor Who let me tell you a little tale.
A few years back I was chatting to actor, comedian and Doctor Who obsessive Toby Hadoke. In the dark days between Sylvester McCoy and the Doctor’s return to form with Christopher Ecclestone in 2005, Toby kept the faith.
He told me that in the 1990s burglars broke into his flat and stole a broken guitar, a Bananarama single and half a jar of instant coffee. They left his Doctor Who videos – now valuable collectors items – untouched.