5 Ways Moffat Might Address Capaldi’s “Familiar Face”

Steven Moffat has hinted at how the new series will explain why the new Doctor looks just like not one but two other characters who’ve cropped up in the Who-niverse before.

Said the show runner: “Truthfully I don’t think it’s something you have to resolve because audiences do understand that the same actor can play different parts.”

“When Peter Capaldi turned up in Torchwood Russell said he had a plan in his head on why he looked like the guy in The Fires of Pompeii. So I emailed him and said what was the explanation and does it fit with the new Doctor? And it sort of does.”

“So in a very low-key way we’ll address it. It won’t be a major deal because in the end people know the real reason is he’s played by the same actor.”

It seems we shouldn’t expect some new season-long plot arc to be devoted to this issue, then, thank goodness, but let’s get a little creative here. Yes, Kasterborites, it’s time to indulge in a bit of speculation as we present five ways (some more serious than others) Moffat might address Capaldi’s familiar face!

1. ‘So Caecillus was the Doctor all the time…’

Simple enough, surely? Well-to-do Roman merchant Caecillus was really the Doctor who, in an elaborate plan to get his tenth incarnation to rediscover the quality of mercy, plonked himself in ancient Pompeii, sorted himself out with a nice life trading and sculpting, landed himself a wife and a couple of kids, then hung around for his earlier self to arrive, get into an adventure and be persuaded by Donna that he really ought to go back and save himself. Or something like that. What’s that you say Skippy? That explanation doesn’t account for why he also looks like Frobisher from Torchwood? Oh, right…

Plausibility rating: Zero

2. ‘You will have an opportunity to choose your appearance…’

Long-term viewers will be well aware of the continuity confounding scene apparently cooked up by Douglas Adams in part one of Destiny of the Daleks, where Romana seemingly raced through her regenerations at a recklessly cavalier pace, finally settling on the look of Princess Astra. Game fans have retrospectively tried to explain this away in some amusingly tortuous forum posts as the Time Lady effectively previewing her options, rather like trying on new tops in Dorothy Perkins.

What if the Twelfth Doctor was somehow dispersed through time and space?

Maybe something similar has happened off-screen, with the Doctor filling those long winter evenings on Christmas looking through some kind of space photo album made up of images of the many friends he’s met along the way. “Hmmm, Caecillus, there was a striking looking fellow,” you can just about imagine the ancient Doctor saying, “if only I had any more lives left I wouldn’t mind looking like him. Ah well…”

Plausibility rating: 1


3. Scattered through time

Listen up, I’ve spent ages thinking up this one and I’m feeling a pretty darned proud of myself. In fact I might just apply for a job writing on the next series; with an imagination like this they’d be sure to snap me up. What if the Twelfth Doctor was somehow dispersed through time and space, with different versions of himself, each unaware of the others, cropping up at crucial points in history to influence events?

What’s that Sooty? They’ve already used that idea with Clara the impossible girl? And way before that with Scaroth, last of the Jagaroth? Oh bother.

Plausibility rating: 2

4.  A note to himself

What if the Doctor, in regenerating into Peter Capaldi, is giving himself a reminder to act more humanely? As the new Doctor says in the trailer, he’s lived a long time and he’s made a lot of mistakes. Maybe his near failure to rescue Ceacillus and family counts in his mind of one of his biggest ones, and he wants to be reminded of that every time he has a shave? Granted, this would require some pretty densely plotted explanation from Steven Moffat, possibly delivered over a number of episodes in a few years’ time, but lord knows that’s never stopped him before.

Plausibility rating: Knowing Steven Moffat, 5.


5. Don’t explain a thing

Surely the most sane response to all of this is not to explain the resemblance at all? Actors have played different roles in the series over many decades, with only one instance I can think of (Gwen Cooper/Gwyneth) where there was any sort of on-screen reason provided. As noted by our Kasterborous podKasters last week, there’s been a worrying tendency in recent episodes for minor points to be retconned to the far end of a floppy scarf, almost always unnecessarily. Leave it be. Move along. Fuggeddabadid.

Plausibility rating: Given we now know there will be some kind of explanation given, Zero.

But enough of what we think! What crazy explanations can you think of why the Doctor looks strangely familiar?

(With some thanks to Doctor Who TV.)


Jonathan has followed the Doctor's adventures since the late Pertwee era, and he isn't about to stop now. A charity worker from Hull, he enjoys following Hull City's fortunes, listening to Bruce Springsteen and collecting all manner of Doctor Who ephemera. He blogs about Doctor Who merchandise at www.mydoctorwhostuff.co.uk.

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