After three seasons, the 12th Doctor will regenerate into the 13th Doctor on the 10th season of Doctor Who. Incumbent Time Lord Peter Capaldi revealed on Monday: “I feel it’s time to move on.”
Speaking to Jo Whiley on BBC’s Radio 2, the actor confirmed that he will be hanging up his Crombie coat, sunglasses, and sonic screwdriver. Fans are already speculating that his replacement could allow for the Doctor to regenerate into a woman. Starting in 2011, Doctor Who has established that members of the titular Time Lord’s race can and do regenerate into other genders.
The first time this was depicted was in the Season 9 finale “Hell Bent,” in which a Time Lord on Gallifrey was shot dead by the Doctor, only to regenerate as a woman. Capaldi added fuel to a female incarnation of the Doctor saying, “Francis de la tour as the first female Doctor — that would be great.” Best known for her role in the Harry Potter films, de la Tour is 72, making her 12 years older than Capaldi is now. In his exit statement, Capaldi also mentioned the “inclusiveness” of Doctor Who and that is has a “brighter future,” which could be interrupted as a signaling of more diversity coming in the show’s future.
Because the 2018 eleventh season of Doctor Who will also see Steven Moffat leaving his role as showrunner — a role he has occupied for seven years — many were not surprised that Capaldi would also leave. Whether or not new companion Bill, played by newcomer Pearl Mackie, will stay on for Season 11 remains to be seen.
While Peter Capaldi may not have been the most popular Doctor since the show’s resurgence in 2005, his performance has, in many ways, been the truest to the character’s huge potential for emotional range. He might not have a catchphrase like David Tennant or Matt Smith, but that’s because even when the writing was wibbly-wobbly, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor was a charming, acerbic Time Lord, who was above all an old-fashioned, irascible, hero.