Guess Who's Back?

As the time-travelling adventurer returns with a new series - and a new face, we talk to Peter Capaldi about becoming The Doctor.

Last updated: 23 August 2014 - 2.48pm

Everything old is new again.

If you think that sounds like a great song title, then you'd be right - one such ditty by Peter Allen has been covered by numerous artists over the years.

It's also a great way to describe what is happening to Doctor Who this weekend.

The show itself is pretty old, having celebrated its 50th anniversary last November, but will be made new again by the arrival of Peter Capaldi as the Time Lord.

Plus, the Doctor - a rather ancient 2,000 years of age, give or take a decade or two - will have new life breathed into him by an actor who has coveted the role since he was a boy.

Capaldi is a long-standing fan who wrote to the BBC as a child and even penned articles for fanzines in his youth, so the show should be in safe hands. Those who grew up watching the classic version of the programme will certainly have been heartened to hear that

Capaldi has outlawed love in the Tardis, and has been keen to take the show back to basics.

What's more, he's the only actor to have played the Doctor since the series returned who looks as if he could have been around during the time that Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker were saving the universe in adventures still rated among the best by long-time followers of all things Whovian.

Capaldi was unveiled as being the next Tardis resident after much speculation in a spectacular programme broadcast on BBC One just over a year ago.

"Being asked to play The Doctor is an amazing privilege," he said at the time. "Like the Doctor himself I find myself in a state of utter terror and delight. I can't wait to get started."

Capaldi did look somewhat bewildered when he wandered out on stage to be greeted by the programme's presenter, Zoe Ball, in front of a studio audience mostly comprised of fans dressed as previous incarnations.

He's been regarded as a top character actor for years thanks to roles in such diverse projects as Local Hero, The Hour and, of course, The Thick of It, but his profile has gone through the roof during the past 12 months thanks to Who - life will probably never be the same again for this quiet, private man from Glasgow.

So, what does the new series hold for viewers? Lots of guest stars, including Keeley Hawes, Ben Miller and Hermione Norris. We've also been promised it will be darker in tone than previous runs.

The opening episode is set in Victorian London, where a dinosaur is running wild in the River Thames, just as a spate of spontaneous combustions take place.

Can the newly regenerated Doctor figure out what's going on? And, perhaps more importantly, can his friendship with Clara survive his personality switch?

Everything is, indeed, new again for her - here's hoping that she, and viewers, embrace the change rather than fear it.