Doctor Who‘s Christmas specials are often the most watched episode of the year, but this one is even more important than most as it’s Peter Capaldi’s swansong as the Twelfth Doctor. It’s crucial to get such a significant installment as good as can be, then…even if you have to tear up the script and start again late in the day.
In an upcoming BBC Radio 2 interview (set to air on Thursday), Capaldi revealed that he was so “hypersensitive” about making the special pitch-perfect that his “discomfort” about something led showrunner Steven Moffat to rewrite a whole scene overnight.
“I had sort of expressed a little discomfort about one of the scenes leading towards the end – and he rewrote it. He rewrote it completely, and quite brilliantly, overnight. Which is fantastic. The downside is I had to learn it overnight!”
We don’t know what Capaldi felt was so wrong about this scene, but his following comments suggest that it was mostly to do with the attitude of the Doctor as he approaches his regeneration. The actor made clear that he always defers to Moffat’s writing skills, though, and would never demand a script rewrite.
“I had an idea about the attitude that the Doctor should have about it happening. But the details of it, and the actual concept of it, is all him. And he’s smarter and cleverer and funnier, so he’s the right person to do it. I trust Steven – Steven’s got better ideas than I would ever have, so I would never say to Steven, ‘I think this is what should happen’.”
Those playing the Doctor have always had a firm understanding of what best fits their characters. After all, longtime fans will know that Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, often changed his lines on the fly during shooting, adding in an extra joke or comment that he preferred over what was in his script. At least Capaldi didn’t go that far.
Not that anyone would mind if he did. He might be most known as an actor, but Capaldi’s also an accomplished writer and director, as well. Let’s not forget that he got an Academy Award for his 1995 short film Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life.
Be sure to catch Doctor Who “Twice Upon a Time” this Christmas Day on BBC One/America.