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Peter Capaldi has one fully-aired season of Doctor Who under his belt now – not to mention a Christmas special, and production on the next season – but it’s understandable that there was a point when he didn’t necessarily “feel” like the Doctor. After all, it’s an iconic part that many actors have taken over the years, and he had to find his own home in the role. As it turns out, it took one precise moment for him to fully embrace his part as the legendary Time Lord, and it involved doing battle with a big rubber spider.
The San Diego Comic-Con panel for Doctor Who was held this afternoon in the San Diego Convention Center’s infamous Hall H, and it was while on stage with showrunner Stephen Moffat, and co-stars Jenna Coleman (Clara) and Michele Gomez (Missy/Mistress) that Capaldi revealed this fun bit of trivia. Discussing the at-times low-rent nature of the practical effects on the show, the Scottish actor explained,
People say, ‘When did you first feel like Doctor Who?’ I think it was when they threw a rubber spider in my face and said, ‘Fight it!’ I said, ‘Doesn’t it work? Where’s the operator?’ They said, ‘There is no operator, it’s just a big rubber spider. Fight it!’ So, yeah.
Sadly, Peter Capaldi didn’t exactly specify which episode this happened during. If he is referring to a literal spider instead of a spider-like alien, however, it’s pretty easy to pin down. The episode “Kill The Moon” featured a number of spiders that wound up attacking the Doctor and Clara, and one could imagine the quoted conversation above happening on set.
It sounds kind of silly that Peter Capaldi’s first true Doctor Who moment came when tussling with a rubber arachnid, but it does make sense when you think about his relationship to the role. During the panel, the actor noted that he has been a fan of the show since he was six years old – and while the show now has a higher budget and more advanced visual effects, it’s the more rough practical effects that help keep the whole thing grounded in the continuity of the original series and in the spirt of it all.
The ninth season of the revived Doctor Who is currently in production, and hopefully Peter Capaldi is regularly having these kinds of true Who moments on set. Look for the show’s return will the season premieres on September 19th!