When Julia Met The DoctorBookmark and Share

Thursday, 21 August 2014 - Reviewed by Tim Hunter
On the whirlwind visit to Sydney as part of the Doctor Who World Tour, Peter Capaldi made time for a chat with Julia Zemiro for ABC TV, and When Julia Met The Doctor, which aired in Australia Wednesday 20 August, was the result.

Just quickly, Julia Zemiro is an Australian TV presenter, known for Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery series of interviews with local comedians on ABC TV, and as a co-presenter of Australia’s Eurovision Song Contest broadcast for SBS TV. She’s an intelligent, relaxed presenter with a good eye for the absurd and camp, and a good choice to interview Capaldi.

She immediately puts Peter at ease as she ushers him into a big room with a view of Sydney Harbour, and manages to engage him in some fun, frank and often irreverent chat. And it is a chat, rather than a formal interview. They chat about his early years as a Doctor Who fan, his childhood in Glasgow, his time in a punk rock band, a stab at stand-up comedy, the short film he directed, the Oscar he won for that, and of course his casting in Local Hero and The Thick of It. She even manages to unearth some previously unknown stories of Peter putting on puppet shows in primary school, which he seems surprised and somewhat embarrassed about her revealing. But then he follows up with a story about making a model TV studio out of a shoe box for cut-out Beatles to perform in, which is just one of a number of lovely moments.

When he gets to talking about being cast as the Doctor, nearly 20 minutes in to the show, he’s hit his stride, and in amongst the candid observations, the now-common anecdote about his first day of shooting in the TARDIS prop comes out, not any less funny, of course. His dry humour and self-deprecating demeanour is lovely to watch, and his passion for the Doctor and the responsibility he’s taking on is intense and a little bit fierce – a hint of what the Twelfth Doctor will actually be like.

Peter also has some interesting insights into Clara as his companion, and then when Julia asks if he can still hear the voice of young Peter Capaldi in his head when he’s on set, he stops to really think before answering, and when he does, he talks about how he knows who the Doctor is, and uses that knowledge rather than any acting ability to inform his performance. And in that moment, we see a lovely emotional and slightly vulnerable side to Peter, and how much playing the Doctor means to him.

The interview is only 25 minutes long, but thanks to Zemiro’s disarming charm and interviewing skills, we get a really solid understanding of who Peter Capaldi is, and what he’ll bring to Doctor Who. And I for one can’t wait to see.