Peter Davison approves of ‘mature’ Doctor Who

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TORONTO – Former “Doctor Who” star Peter Davison says he expects the time-jumping series to shift to a slower, more serious affair with its new star, Peter Capaldi.

Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, Matthew Waterhouse as Adric, Peter Davison as The Doctor and Janet Fielding as Tegan in "Doctor Who."

Davison, who led the show in the early ’80s as the fifth actor to play the other-worldly explorer, says the sci-fi saga is likely in for a tonal change when Capaldi begins his stint as the 12th Doctor.

Capaldi takes over from Matt Smith, who at 26 was the youngest actor to ever play the British sci-fi hero when he took over in 2010.

Davison says the 55-year-old Capaldi, whose credits include “Torchwood” and “In the Loop,” should add yet another fresh sheen to the 50-year-old saga.

“I think it’ll change the sort of tone of it slightly, you know he’s obviously a mature doctor,” Davison says in a recent phone interview from outside London.

“Matt to me always reminds me of a sort of irrepressible puppy. I think probably Peter will slow it down somewhat and I think that’ll be good for the show.”

Capaldi is expected to make his first appearance in a holiday special that will bid farewell to Smith’s incarnation of the Time Lord, a humanoid alien who can regenerate his body when faced with what would otherwise be a fatal event.

Before that, “Doctor Who” celebrates its 50th anniversary with the special episode “The Day of the Doctor” on Nov. 23 on Space. The show will air simultaneously worldwide and feature appearances by Smith’s current Doctor and his companion Clara, played by Jenna Coleman, as well as the 10th Doctor, David Tennant, and John Hurt as a dark figure in the Doctor’s timeline.

Space is currently paying tribute to every incarnation of the Time Lord with the weekly docu-series “Doctor Who Revisited,” which looks back at each of the 11 Doctors. Each one-hour special is followed by two classic episodes featuring the Doctor of the evening.

“Doctor Who” director Graeme Harper, whose ties to the legendary series stretch back to his earliest days at the BBC in the ’60s but mainly encompass the ’80s and 2000s, says he never expected the series to last this long. But he says he understands its broad appeal.

“What’s brilliant about ‘Doctor Who’ is it’s universal —anybody can understand that from any country,” Harper says in a recent phone call from London.

“It’s not totally British. It’s out there.”

Harper and Davison will be among the “Doctor Who” personalities attending Toronto’s three-day Reversed Polarity Convention, beginning Friday. The event also includes an appearance by actor Dan Starkey, best known for playing a Sontaran soldier named Strax.

After that, Davison heads to Halifax for its fantasy and gaming convention Hal-Con, running Nov. 8 to 10. Guests at that more general sci-fi event include Billy Dee Williams of “Star Wars,” Jewel Staite of the TV series “Firefly” and its big-screen spinoff “Serenity,” and Garrett Wang from “Star Trek Voyager.”

Davison says he’s looking forward to meeting Canadian fans, noting that “Doctor Who” devotees are unlike any other.

“They are overwhelming, but they’re very respectful as well,” says the 62-year-old Davison, also known for “All Creatures Great and Small” and “Law & Order: UK.”

“There are people who go, ‘Oh, crikey, (you) must be working really hard when you do a convention.’ In fact, it is hard work, but you are being told constantly over three days how wonderful you are. So it’s no real great hardship.”

Davison, who was 29 when he was cast as the Doctor in 1981, says Capaldi is a great choice to continue the saga.

“It’ll be more challenging for (showrunner) Steven Moffat to write and therefore I think will be another lease of life for the series.”

- by Cassandra Szklarski - The Canadian Press

Organizations: Time, BBC, Reversed Polarity Convention

Geographic location: London, Toronto

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