In recent years I have been fortunate enough to work behind the scenes on episodes of Doctor Who starring Peter Capaldi. It was an honour to watch the professionalism and skill of this astonishing actor in the role he always wanted. For me, Peter Capaldi will forever be my Doctor.
My first on-set meeting with the Thirteenth Doctor came on location for his debut story ‘Deep Breath’. At this time I was merely a fan, watching on as the team filmed some exterior shots involving horses and a carriage. Only a few months later I would be part of that team. It was a bitterly cold night shoot on the streets of Cardiff Bay. Once he was able to, Capaldi said hello to fans, signing autographs and posing for selfies whilst ADs (Assistant Directors) watched on keen to get him in a car back to the studio for the next scenes to be filmed. This became the practice throughout his tenure. Time was always made to see the fans who took time to watch filming. Often these would be the same faces again and again but it didn’t matter.
Playing The Doctor isn’t an easy task, not just because of the attention that filming draws to it. The sheer volume of lines in the script to learn and the long working hours are tough enough. Add on top of that, delivering a performance and the pressure of being the face of a global BBC brand is an intimidating experience at best. Despite this, Peter Capaldi is the nicest person that I have ever had the privilege to work with. Always friendly, Peter was never anything less than lovely. On the first occasion that I knocked on the door of his trailer and introduced myself, Peter was utterly charming and even introduced himself to me. As if the custodian of Doctor Who needed to introduce himself! When I went to the BBC canteen to get Peter a can of Diet Coke he insisted on giving me the money for it. I declined, buying Peter Capaldi a can of Diet Coke was the least I could do.
In studio Peter had a little table, with a small light, and a chair. A little zone where he could sit with his little folder full of script pages so he could learn his lines. If ever you wished to see acting as a discipline you needed look no further than Peter Capaldi. A consummate professional with sterling focus. This was not to say that he would isolate himself from the production team or other actors. He talked to any and everyone. As Peter recounted recently one of those conversations, with fellow runner Michael Williams (DJ Mikey Snooze), led to the establishment of the term ‘Mondasian Cybermen’. For anyone who had the pleasure of working with Peter Capaldi, it was just that; an absolute pleasure.