Just ‘Who’ is Peter Capaldi anyway?

A guide to help catch up on the Scottish actor’s filmography before he debuts as the new Doctor later this year.


In Europe, many folks thought that Peter Capaldi had a fairly good shot of being the next star of the British sci-fi show Doctor Who.

When the news was announced in a BBC America special on Sunday afternoon, the response for many in the USA probably was , “Who?”

Capaldi, the Scottish-born actor who will become the 12th Doctor later this year, has had a busy career in his native U.K., both on TV and in movies — plus in some films that you don’t have to be an Anglophile to know.

Before Matt Smith “regenerates” into the 55-year-old Scotsman in the Doctor Who Christmas Special, here’s a guide to catch up on all things Capaldi:

The Thick of It. Let’s hope there is a “No swearing” sign somewhere in the TARDIS — Capaldi shows a true talent for hurling four-letter curses in the political comedy, which can now be streamed on Hulu. He won the British Comedy Award for best TV actor twice (in 2010 and 2012) as his acerbic and volatile government PR man Malcolm Tucker. (His R-rated encapsulation of Star Warsis a thing of brilliant, NSFW beauty.)

In the Loop. Capaldi reprised his role as Tucker in a Thick of It spinoff movie in 2009 that parodied the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq by taking a tongue-in-cheek look at all the behind-the-scenes machinations. Also noteworthy for those who stream it on Netflix: the late James Gandolfini as a military assistant to the U.S. Secretary of defense.

Prime Suspect. The third season of the British cop drama in 1993 — which starred Helen Mirren as Scotland Yard detective Jane Tennison — revolved around a child pornography and prostitution ring, and Capaldi had a dramatic supporting role as a transsexual. (Episodes can be streamed on Amazon Prime, or just wait for the Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection to arrive on Blu-ray Aug. 27.)

Dangerous Liasions. Come for John Malkovich’s over-the-top and scheming Sebastien de Valmont in Stephen Frears’ 1988 period drama, stay for Capaldi as Valmont’s loyal-to-a-fault valet Azolan.

The Lair of the White Worm. Hugh Grant, Catherine Oxenberg and Capaldi vs. a giant dragon/snake/worm hybrid in 1988. ‘Nuff said, really.

The Hour. Before The Newsroom, there was The Hour, a British series about an English current-affairs program during the Cold War. Capaldi played Randall Brown, the eccentric 1950s-era head of news that garnered him a BAFTA nomination for supporting actor.

Doctor Who. Yep, Capaldi’s turn as the Doctor won’t be his first time on the series. In the 2008 episode “The Fires of Pompeii” opposite the 10th Doctor, David Tennant, Capaldi starred as a Pompeii merchant who has bought the Doctor’s time-traveling TARDIS and is found by the Time Lord one day before Mount Vesuvius erupts.

Torchwood: Children of Earth. Set in the same sci-fi universe as Doctor Who, the third Torchwood series in 2009 featured Capaldi as John Frobisher, a government type who was — unfortunately for him, as the whole thing turned out — picked to be a liaison between the prime minister and a race of malevolent aliens known as the 456.

World War Z. If you can’t find it at your local multiplex, check out the Brad Pitt zombie movie when it comes out on Blu-ray Sept. 17 to see Capaldi as a World Health Organization doctor who helps Pitt’s Gerry Lane find a cure before the whole world is zombified.

Strictly Sinatra. Capaldi has had success behind the camera, too — he won a best live-action short Oscar in 1995 for Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, which can be streamed at Amazon. Head on over to Netflix, though, to check out Strictly Sinatra, Capaldi’s 2001 film about a singer who gets in trouble with the Mob when a gangster’s wife falls for him. The actor also is slated to direct the comedy Born to Be King, scheduled for release next year and starring Ewan McGregor and Kate Hudson.

Peter Capaldi: The next Time Lord

Peter Capaldi


Peter Capaldi has been named as the 12th actor to take on the lead role in BBC series Doctor Who.

At 55 – the same age as William Hartnell when he was cast as the first Time Lord in 1963 – he has an impressive list of credits to his name on both film and TV.

The Glasgow-born star is the first Oscar winner to play the part after winning the Academy Award for best live action short film in 1994 for Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life.

He became a household name thanks to his performance as foul-mouthed spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker in BBC series The Thick of It.

That role saw him win a Bafta TV award for best male performance in a comedy role in 2010, and he was nominated for the same award in 2006, 2008 and 2013.

His performance as Tucker in 2009 spin-off film In The Loop also saw him nominated for acting honours at the British Independent Film Awards, as well as London, Los Angeles and New York film critics’ awards.

Peter Capaldi in The Thick Of ItCapaldi won a Bafta for his role as spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It

Capaldi attended the Glasgow School of Art and it was while studying there that he landed his breakout role in the 1983 drama Local Hero directed by Bill Forsyth and starring Burt Lancaster.

Early roles in TV series Minder and Hollywood film Dangerous Liaisons led to a string of parts on shows such as Prime Suspect, the Crow Road and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

More recently he appeared in Skins, The Devil’s Whore, Torchwood: Children of Earth and BBC mini-series The Nativity.

Capaldi has also written several TV shows, including a documentary about 500 years of Scottish portrait painting broadcast on BBC Four and Cricklewood Greats – a spoof about the heyday of the British film industry.

He also wrote 1993 film Soft Top Hard Shoulder – which was nominated for a Scottish film Bafta – as well as writing and directing the 2001 gangster film, Strictly Sinatra.

Capaldi’s stage credits include Professor Marcus in The Ladykillers at the Liverpool Playhouse, which later transferred to the Gielgud Theatre in the West End.

A lifelong fan of Doctor Who, landing the role of the Time Lord is a dream come true for Capaldi.

He even wrote a letter to the Radio Times when he was a teenager in 1973, praising the magazine for its Doctor Who special celebrating the show’s 10th anniversary.

Peter Capaldi's letter to the Radio TimesPeter Capaldi’s letter to the Radio Times in 1973 praising its Doctor Who coverage

The Doctor Who casting comes after a busy year for the actor, who was seen on the big screen in zombie film World War Z and in BBC Two drama series The Hour, for which he was also Bafta nominated.

He is currently filming new BBC One drama series The Musketeers, in which he plays Cardinal Richelieu and which will air next year.

He will also appear in the forthcoming Julian Assange film The Fifth Estate as Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and Disney’s Maleficent – a take on the Sleeping Beauty tale, starring Angelina Jolie.

Mighty Comet ISON: Space and Earth Telescopes to Track ‘Comet of the Century’

by Clara Moskowitz, Assistant Managing Editor   |   August 06, 2013 05:30pm ET
The Hubble Space Telescope captured this view of Comet ISON, C/2012 S1 (ISON), on May 8, 2013.
The Hubble Space Telescope captured this view of Comet ISON, C/2012 S1 (ISON), on May 8, 2013 as it streaked between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars at a speed of about 48,000 mph.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

LAUREL, Md. — All eyes on the sky that can do so will be pointing toward Comet ISON soon, as a massive international observing campaign gets underway to watch what could become the “comet of the century,” scientists say.

Comet ISON was discovered in September 2012, and is due to swoop in close to the sun in November. When it does, it may become as bright as the full moon, visible to the naked eye even in daylight. Or, it may not.

What will happen to Comet ISON is an open question to scientists, who hope to learn more about what causes certain comets to flare brightlyand others to fizzle out and evaporate under the sun’s radiation. [Photos of Comet ISON: A Potentially Great Comet]



Uncertain fate

“We don’t have anything to directly compare to ISON,” astronomer Matthew Knight of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., said Thursday (Aug. 1) here at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory during a two-day workshop on observing ISON. Based on historical records, he said, very large comets tend to survive their encounters with the sun, while smaller ones evaporate or break into pieces under the harsh solar radiation. Comet ISON is a mid-sized comet, and its fate is very uncertain.

ISON is thought to originate in the Oort cloud, a large spherical cloud of small planetary fragments that is thought to surround the sun and extend up to a light-year out. The comet was first discovered in September of 2012, and belongs to a class of bodies called sungrazing comets that skim in close to the sun’s atmosphere.

Under the banner of a coordinated observing program called the NASA Comet ISON Observing Campaign, dozens of observatories on the ground, in space, and even on sounding rockets and high-altitude balloons, will watch the comet’s progress toward the sun this fall.

Starting at Mars

One of the first major series of observations will be taken from orbit around Mars, which will have a view of ISON as it moves toward the inner solar system. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), plans to snap photos of ISON on Aug. 20, when the comet makes its closest approach to the Red Planet.

“The Aug. 20 observations might give you all an early indication of just how bright the comet has become, at least at this time and place,” said Richard Zurek, chief scientist of the Mars Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. [Comet ISON: Evolution of a Potentially Great Comet (A Timeline)]

In addition to MRO, NASA’s Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity will try to take photos of Comet ISON as it appears in the Martian sky overhead.

After ISON zooms by Mars, it will soon approach Mercury, the innermost planet in the solar system. There, NASA’s Messenger probe orbiting the tiny planet will make observations of the comet.

And finally, as it nears the sun, three solar observatories will switch into high gear mode to watch ISON rendezvous with our star, where it will make its closest approach on Nov. 28. NASA’s SOHO (Solar & Heliospheric Observatory), STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) and SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) spacecraft will all turn their sights on the possible “comet of the century.”

Observing throughout the spectrum

Comet ISON Photos by Spitzer Space Telescope
These images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope of Comet ISON were taken on June 13, 2013, when ISON was 312 million miles (502 million kilometers) from the sun. The lefthand image shows a tail of fine rocky dust issuing from the comet, blown back by the pressure of sunlight. The image at right shows a neutral gas atmosphere surrounding ISON, likely created by carbon dioxide fizzing off the comet at a rate of 2.2 million pounds per day.

Space telescopes that specialize in observing through certain wavelengths of light will each have their special roles to play in the campaign. NASA’s Swift satellite will photograph ISON in gamma-ray light, while the Spitzer Space Telescope will observe in infrared light and the Chandra Observatory will look in X-rays.

Not to be outdone, dozens of telescopes on the ground will also contribute to observations of Comet ISON, including the Lowell Observatory, the Arecibo radio dish in Puerto Rico, and the Submillimeter Array in Hawaii, just to name a few.

This coordinated effort will help scientists catch ISON in action, as its transformation during its close encounter with the sun could be rapid.

“ISON isn’t up for very long in any one area — not enough to characterize it,” Knight said. “We’d like to combine observations from around the world — as many longitudes as we can get — and collect them all. You get roughly 24-hour coverage. From that we may be able to piece together what’s going on.”

Dedicated missions

While many observatories will be diverting from normal work to observe ISON, some missions have been designed for this comet specifically.

One project is a small sounding rocket mission dubbed FORTIS (Far-ultraviolet Off Rowland-Circle for Imaging and Spectroscopy) that will measure ultraviolet light from Comet ISON during a short 5-6 minute observing window while the rocket flies up to the edge of space and back.

Another mission dedicated to ISON is the BRRISON (Balloon Rapid Response for ISON) mission, which will loft a telescope on a high-altitude balloon designed to travel 120,000 feet (37,000 meters) up to Earth’s stratosphere, where it can observe in infrared and near ultraviolet/visible wavelengths.

“I don’t need to tell this audience why ISON is such an unusual opportunity,” said BRRISON’s principal investigator, Andrew Cheng of the Applied Physics Laboratory. “It’s a sungrazer, unusually bright, it’s also an Oort cloud comet, probably on its first visit to the inner solar system, preserving icy material that was formed in the very early days of our solar system.”

Spawn Camping and Camping in Enemy Base


Last week I brought up the mention of Forever 29’s as a problem in Scarlet Blade. Well, this is the same problem now changed to something different. It’s call ‘Spawn Camping’ and ‘Base Camping.’

What is this you may ask? This is when two or more ridiculously strong Forever 29’s mech up and just stay in either Royal Guard or Free Knight base for anywhere from 5-10 minutes straight. This means anyone killed will respawn in the case-as usual-and immediately die again.

This is so wrong in many ways.

First off, it gives a person a chance to ‘rank point farm’ off players who haven’t a chance in hell of standing up to them. Last night I watched some of our FK do that. And it’s the same bunch I wrote about last night. Now I get it that you’re mad someone from RG came onto our chat and talked trash. That’s one thing…camping their base to just bully them is another.

It’s why no one likes this group.

Secondly, it forces RG to stay in their base, which prevents solo players like me from being able to get kills and complete the ‘killing enemy arkana’ quest. I admit my arkana doesn’t have the highest level equipment, which forces me to be sneaky, brutal and a 1v1 fighter…to each his own.

But to load up on high gear and then just bully your way into the enemy base doesn’t make you ‘tough’ or ‘bad’ it makes you a prick. Chalk up another reason why the group on our side isn’t liked.

And I’m sure there are people who will tell me ‘then make your arkana better.’ Well, one can’t when the bunch hogs every major boss they can. That prevents others from being able to get tough enough to be able to make runs at the RG or FK chest.

Once again, Aeria looks the other way while Valkyrie server continues to die. Smaller players don’t want to come in because they’ll be mauled. I’ve gotten to where I try to stick to 26-29 when I kill someone but it’s hard to tell the difference via HP. If I see a 23 or 24 or 25 dog tag floating after the kill, then I’ll leave that person alone.

Granted, I understand Aeria is in business to make money and these folks probably buy stuff from Aeria. I get that. However, to turn a blind eye while folks are screwed over is poor management.

Once again, another problem to be fixed that won’t be.