Saturday, August 3, 2013

A plea to Peter Capaldi - if you're the new Doctor, please use your natural accent

I've no idea if the rumours swirling around that Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor Who have any truth to them. Certainly last time round when the bookies got to the point of refusing new bets, it turned out they had settled on the right name (Matt Smith came out of nowhere after Paterson Joseph had been the long-term favourite). But it may be that the BBC have learned from that experience, and that Capaldi's name is being used as a decoy, or is just a spontaneous false rumour. My guess is that the production team might be (wrongly) concerned about choosing someone of Capaldi's age, if only because the audience have become accustomed to younger Doctors since the show's comeback in 2005.

But if by any chance Capaldi is the choice, my fervent hope is that he won't follow in David Tennant's footsteps by ditching his Scottish accent. If it's plausible for a Time Lord from Gallifrey to speak the Queen's English, or to use Christopher Eccleston's Lancashire accent, or even to have a semi-Scottish accent during his seventh incarnation, then there's no good reason why he shouldn't speak like Malcolm Tucker, albeit perhaps without the expletives. Tennant's decision to become the first Doctor in history to abandon his natural accent was the absolute epitome of the Scottish cringe. If this whole 'better together' thing (which it's assumed Tennant is a firm believer in) has any meaning at all, it ought to be about celebrating each other's differences, not about everyone in Britain aspiring to the 'normality' of being a good little Englishman.


  1. Tenant was told to use an English accent. I know because he was asked in an interview. Tells us everything we need to know about the BBC?

  2. He could have refused. But he's a dead in the head labour supporter so he didn't.

  3. So - MacDonald (sorry, Tennant) was told that a Scottish accent was unacceptable. This after Eccleston had used his natural accent, and even referred to it as "northern" ("Lots of planets have a north" was the line, I think).

    So what does that make Scotland? Invisible?

    The bloody show is filmed in Wales, too.

  4. Rumour has it, that bloody American scientist in the wheelchair has got the part.

  5. It was a dreadful mistake that Tennant couldn't use his native tongue.

    It became increasingly obvious that having to emote in a fake estuary accent was a problem. The Scots came through.

    Always surprised me that few folk pick up on this as a major problem with his era - as big as Colin Baker's coat in many ways.

  6. And folk still wonder where Johann is? ;-)

  7. David Tennant was asked to play the Doctor with an English accent because RTD didn't want viewers to think that NewWho was touring the UK with regional accents. That was the only reason.

  8. RTD was a fat welsh ModEdit who should have known better. There had already been a Dr with a Scots accent so that excuse doesn't work.

  9. Capaldi had a part in "World War Z". As a doctor with the World Health Organisation.

    WHO Doctor, geddit?

  10. "David Tennant was asked to play the Doctor with an English accent because RTD didn't want viewers to think that NewWho was touring the UK with regional accents. That was the only reason."

    That extraordinary "London is normality, everywhere else is an aberration" mindset (a bizarre one for a Welshman to have, but then the Welsh Cringe is just as strong) reminds me of Bill Mallon's reaction to Chicago being passed over for the Olympics. Referring to the IOC, he said "that reveals that they’re so international-centric, it’s ridiculous". 'International-centric' translates as 'biased in favour of the tiny part of the world that lies outside America's borders'.

    Anyway, I'm delighted Capaldi has been chosen, although if his first words as the Doctor are spoken in an English accent I may just give up on the series.

  11. If the Doctor character isn't idiosyncratic then he is nothing. RTD's 'regional tour' excuse is woefully bad. Particularly considering his female Torchwood lead wasn't proscribed in that same manner.

    More importantly though, Moffat isn't RTD. It doesn't guarantee he will allow Capaldi to use his accent but he would be making a serious mistake if he did force him to lose it.

    Capaldi is a superb actor and has very little to prove. The reason for keeping the accent isn't merely that it would be refreshing to hear and would distance this Doctor greatly from the previous ones, but that Capaldi has a quite remarkable ability to use that accent while still delivering dialogue that would floor lesser actors and still be clearly understood. The Malcolm character has to deliver complex yet hilarious put downs and abuse while still maintaining a naturalistic feel that the thick of it requires. He succeeds, and then some. The lazy stereotype of Malcolm as just a stream of swearing is very far from the case. Capaldi delivers often convoluted dialogue that you won't hear anywhere else while still running the gamut of emotions from fury to casual jocularity. That's important because the space jargon the Doctor is often asked to delivered is no less cumbersome at times and was probably the main reason for Capaldi being chosen. An ability to deliver complex lines naturalistically with a large emotional range.

    Actors sometimes lose their accent in an attempt to break through to the larger ad more lucrative U.S. market. Yet Robert Carlyle did the U.S. science fiction series Stargate Universe with his accent intact and arguably made his character richer and more believable for it.

    I too hope Capaldi keeps his accent. Not just because there is no good reason for him to drop it but because the role would benefit greatly from him keeping it.