[SPOILERS ahead for those not caught up on Doctor Who.]
It’s been a rough road for the Twelfth Doctor. Doctor Who season 9 just wrapped with ‘Hell Bent’, the second half of an intense two episode story arc involving the Doctor’s (Peter Capaldi) home world of Gallifrey and the return of the Time Lords. The gripping season finale marked the final appearance of fan (and Doctor) favorite Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) and might also signify a new phase for the show.
After such an emotional wrap to the season, fans and the Doctor will appreciate the 2015 Christmas Special – marking the return of Alex Kingston’s time traveling companion River Song. However, the festive episode could end on a melancholy note as well, possibly bookending the Twelfth Doctor’s final season.
In an interview with Benji Wilson in The Telegraph (via Doctor Who World Wide), Capaldi delved his time on the show and the experience of entering into the Doctor Who world. Although the actor admits to the transitive nature of his long-running role, he also acknowledges the limitations for an actor on the show. Still, Capaldi seems wistful when announcing that Series 10 may be his swansong:
“This could be my final year – it’s terrifying. I love Doctor Who but it can be quite an insular world and I do want to do other things. There will come a time when this is over. But I knew that when I started. I was thinking about my regeneration scene from the outset. That’s my terrible melancholic nature. When you accept the job you know there’ll come a day, inevitably, when you’ll be saying goodbye.”
Aside from the potentially short-term limitations on the role, Capaldi also faced a few challenges other recent Doctors didn’t have to deal with. In the interview, he cheekily addressed his ageist detractors, saying that “every Doctor should be different…If you want exclusively young, sexy guys, to me, that’s not Doctor Who.”
Capaldi is bittersweet about leaving the show, at the moment, but says he’s looking forward to the near-future and the lighthearted fare of the 2015 Doctor Who holiday extravaganza. Capaldi notes the stark contrast to the finale:
“It’s a very festive, light‑hearted Christmas afternoon show. Although a lot of adults really like it, at its heart Doctor Who is designed to entertain children as well. I like the idea of families watching together. That’s what I did when I was a child.”
While the Christmas Special is always a favorite among fans, it will hang a number of question marks over the upcoming 10th season. Clara’s departure from the show begins anew the search for a companion – which Capaldi feels should be a woman. And with the show’s popularity soaring, Capaldi’s decision to leave or stay on for an extra season or two could impact the show’s fan base.
Whovians that aren’t as fond of the Twelfth Doctor’s more distant characterization will likely look forward to the next incarnation. But fans of Capaldi’s quirky, Scottish-brogued Doctor may take his departure more harshly. Obviously, the show hinges upon the many reiterations of the Doctor, but seeking more stability could increase its fan base while alienating core fans.