Peter Capaldi explains why no one can be too old to play The Doctor

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Dec 9, 2013, 4:03 PM EST

Peter Capaldi is the oldest actor in quite some time to play everyone's favorite Time Lord, but he's got good reason to consider that an asset.

Not counting John Hurt, who was 73 when he took up the mantle of "The War Doctor" this year (and Richard Hurndall, who was also in his 70s when he played the First Doctor in the 1983 special The Five Doctors), Capaldi -- at 55 -- is tied for the oldest actor to debut as The Doctor, along with William Hartnell, who was also 55 when he debuted as as the First Doctor in 1963. Hartnell also holds the record (again, not counting Hurt or Hurndall) for oldest actor ever to play a Doctor on the series, as he was 58 when he left the role in 1966, but Capaldi could easily surpass that mark if he decides to stick around awhile. 

Ever since Capaldi's casting was announced, fans have been divided as to whether the show needs an older actor in the role, particularly after Matt Smith, who was 27 when he began his run as the Eleventh Doctor (and it's worth noting that some fans and even some BBC execs weren't happy about how young he was at the time) and will be 31 when he makes his final appearance as the character in a few weeks. Capaldi's lifelong love of the show is well known, so you're not going to get him to admit that he's too old to play the character. On the contrary, he and showrunner Steven Moffat both believe that no actor could ever be old enough to play the increasingly ancient Time Lord.

“The Doctor’s thousands of years old," Moffat said during a recent joint appearance with Capaldi, "they’ve never been able to find an actor old enough to play him!”

Capaldi, not surprisingly, agreed.

“I’m 1,995 years too young for the part, really," Capaldi said. "So I think he’s going to be quite happy to look his age at last!”

The manic energy and quick tongues of Smith and David Tennant have made a huge impact on the character in recent years, but while talk of an older actor might make some fans worry that the show will lose some of its youthful energy, anyone who's seen Capaldi on shows like The Thick of It knows that, 55 years old or not, he packs a serious punch. 

Capaldi was also happy to talk a bit about his own fandom as a lifelong Who viewer. When asked which of the 11 actors preceding him is his favorite, he gave an answer that was both diplomatic and a true insight into how he views the character.

“All of them, I love them all, they’re brilliant," Capaldi. "They are just one, they’re all of those actors and they’re all a delight, I think they’re all fabulous. I’m lucky to have them in my DNA because I’ve watched it from the year dot, so they’re great.”

As for his first appearance in this year's Who Christmas special, Capaldi revealed that he hasn't seen it, and he won't see it until he can see it just like all the other Who fans out there: on Christmas night, with his family.

“I haven’t seen it, so I’m looking forward to my reaction," Capaldi said. "My family are all coming over to watch Matt Smith turning into me which will be interesting.”

What do you think? Does Capaldi's age matter to you?

Doctor Who returns with the 2013 Christmas special, "Time of the Doctor," on Dec. 25.

(Via Doctor Who TV)