For the last 55 years, there’s always been one guaranteed litmus test to separate real Doctor Who fans from posers. True Whovians know that the main character of the show is called ‘The Doctor’ – and anyone calling him ‘Doctor Who’ clearly doesn’t watch the series. Now, though, that’s all up in the air thanks to the departing Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, who’s controversially explained that either is valid. Heresy!
Capaldi made the statement on BBC Radio 2’s Access All Areas during an interview with Jo Whiley, where he said the following:
“We can get into a fight about whether he’s called The Doctor, or Doctor Who, the reason I call him Doctor Who is because when you’re in the street, people don’t shout out, ‘There’s The Doctor!’ They go, ‘Hey, Doctor Who!’ That’s his street name. His street name is Doctor Who.”
The annoying thing about this is that Peter Capaldi is not only the current Doctor, which gives him a sort of papal infallibility, but a lifelong fan of the show. If he refers to The Doctor as Doctor Who, then we might as well do it, too.
Of course, this minute difference is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that we’ve never yet found out Doctor Who’s (it was genuinely difficult typing that) actual name. The Doctor is his Gallifreyan title, and while Tom Baker claimed he has it for being “a doctor of time and relative dimension in space,” fans point out that ‘Doctor’ also means different things to different species.
To some (like humans) it’s a healer. To others, it means hero, saviour or (to the more villainous aliens) ‘destroyer.’ But his birth name? Capaldi apparently has the goods:
“I also know his real name. It’s not pronounceable to humans. It’s a frequency that can only be heard of people with good heart. If you haven’t heard it Jo, I can’t help you there.”
The actor has clearly had the time of his life with the role, though we’ll be saying goodbye to him on Christmas Day when the Doctor Who Christmas special, Twice Upon A Time airs, as it’ll see him regenerate into the brand new Thirteenth Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker.