Peter Capaldi: ‘Doctor Who should be more political’

Time Lord calls for more stories tackling real world issues.

Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who
Time Lord to House Of Lords Doctor Who will get more political if Peter Capaldi has his way. Image Pictture Ray Burniston/BBC

Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi has called on the show to become more political, following the success of a recent story which dealt with terrorism and immigration fears.

The two-part story The Zygon Invasion saw the alien Zygon race used as an allegory for Muslims. It featured the 52-year-old science-fiction show investigating Islamaphobia and hate crime.

Capaldi said he would welcome similar storylines during next year’s series, which begins filming at the start of 2016.

“I think it’s a thing we should do more of,” said Capaldi. “I like the way the Doctor adopts a very definite moral stance. Not everyone may agree with it, but it becomes clearer when he’s faced with more ‘political’ issues.”

“There are a lot of young people watching who may find the world bewildering”

Capaldi, 57, is a lifelong Doctor Who fan and said he enjoyed watching similarly political stories shown during third Doctor actor Jon Pertwee’s incarnation from 1970-74.

“I remember Doctor Who having an awareness of real world issues, and it made the show deeper and richer,” the Scot told Doctor Who Magazine.

He added that, since the show returned to BBC1 in 2005, it had understandably ignored political stories to concentrate on making the show a success. “To reflect the current world is a very good thing,” said the actor also known for his portrayal of spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It.

“There are a lot of young people watching Doctor Who who may find the world bewildering. So it’s quite useful to have somebody’s take on it, even if that person happens to be a 2,500-year-old Gallifreyan.”

The recent series, which finished last weekend, saw ratings slip slightly to around six million viewers a week. But that has been widely attributed to showing it at a later time-slot at 8:25pm, which Capaldi and showrunner Steven Moffat have said is too late for its family audience.

“Once you’re past 8pm, you’re getting into adult territory,” said Capaldi. “Although a lot of adults really like it, at its heart the show is designed to entertain children as well. It’s a shame they’re not being given that opportunity.”

The Doctor Who Christmas special episode, which sees Alex Kingston return in her occasional role as the Doctor’s wife River Song, will be shown on BBC1 at 5:15pm. It also stars comedians Greg Davies and Matt Lucas.

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Loaded’s deputy editor John Earls has covered entertainment and sport across a range of national newspapers, plus several football and music magazines, since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at @EarlsJohn

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