Doctor Who Peter Capaldi, David Bradley

Capaldi says Doctor Who appeals broadly because 'it’s about death'

Contributed by
May 31, 2018

One of the staples of Doctor Who is that every few years, a new lead actor (and now lead actress in Broadchurch’s Jodie Whittaker) gets to step into the larger-on-the-inside shoes of the Doctor. The constant change is made possible when the Doctor regenerates into a brand-new incarnation.

Peter Capaldi, who played the role of the 12th Doctor on the long-running BBC series, recently appeared in several installments of James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction. The show just finished its six-episode run on AMC with an installment about time travel where the actor opened up about the fact that death itself plays an integral part on the BBC series.

In the latest episode, Capaldi explained that the reason Doctor Who has been able to last this long was the concept of regeneration. Regeneration is a process during which the present incarnation of the beloved Time Lord dies to make way for a new version, which allows a new actor to take on the lead role every couple of years.

“The first actor, the wonderful William Hartnell, became ill and couldn’t carry on with the show,” Capaldi explained. “So they came up with this rather brilliant idea, which is that the Doctor has the ability to reconstitute himself. This has allowed the show to last, because we change the lead actor every three or four years, which no other show does.”

Capaldi continued by adding: “It has all these other levels of philosophical and reflective nature that make it very, very rich. People always ask me what it is about the show that appeals so broadly. The answer I would like to give — and which I’m discouraged from giving because it is not useful in the promotion of a brand — is that it’s about death. And it has a very, very powerful death motif in it, which is that the central character dies. I think that is one of its most potent mysteries, because somewhere in that people see that that’s what happens in life. You have loved ones and then they go, but you must carry on.”

Do you agree with Capaldi’s statement that Doctor Who's broad appeal is that the show is about death?

(via Radio Times)