SCOTTISH actor Peter Capaldi has swapped his spin doctor role for that of Doctor Who after he was unveiled as the new Time Lord in the cult BBC series.
Capaldi, who won plaudits for his role as Malcolm Tucker in BBC political satire The Thick of It, will replace Matt Smith as the 12th incarnation of the Time Lord after Smith steps down at the end of the year.
He had been the bookies favourite to take on the time travelling job, and was named in a one-off live show broadcast on BBC1.
The Glasgow-born actor is the third Scot to take on the role, after Sylvester McCoy, who played the seventh Doctor between 1987 and 1989, and for the brief revival in 1996, and David Tennant.
Only 10 people knew the name of the new Doctor and had been using the codename Houdini to keep it a secret. Even the plans for Sunday night’s half-hour show, hosted by Zoe Ball, were originally kept secret, with a repeat of Celebrity Mastermind put in listings in its place.
Bookmakers William Hill suspended betting on Saturday after Capaldi was heavily backed to be announced as Smith’s replacement.
Other names that were mentioned as possible contenders include Daniel Rigby, well known for his award-winning performance as Eric Morecambe in Eric and Ernie, and Cutting It star Ben Daniels, who were second and third favourite in the betting stakes.
The most backed woman for the role was Sheridan Smith, at 20/1.
Speaking earlier, Ben Stephenson, controller of BBC drama commissioning, said: “Amongst all the speculation and betting, there has been lots of fun and intrigue at work as we’ve been using the codename Houdini as a decoy.
“Its been the biggest secret in showbiz.”
The first Oscar-winner to take the role, Capaldi has never made a secret of the fact he is a lifelong fan of the show and even wrote a letter to the Radio Times about the Daleks when he was a teenager.
He won an Academy Award in 1994 for Best Short Film (Live Action) for Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, but became a household name largely thanks to his performance as foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It.
One of his first film roles was in Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero, and more recently he appeared as Randall Brown,the maverick head of news on BBC drama The Hour.
He has also written several shows including a documentary about 500 years history of Scottish portrait painting and Cricklewood Greats - a spoof about the heyday of the British film industry.
Capaldi was interviewed in front of a live studio audience on Sunday night, with previous Doctor Who stars and a few Daleks also making an appearance.
Smith and executive producer Steven Moffat appeared to give the new recruit advice, along with fifth Doctor Peter Davison.
There was also a video message from sixth Doctor Colin Baker and former companions Katy Manning, Anneke Wills, Janet Fielding and Bonnie Langford.
Speculation on who would take over the role has been rife since Smith announced in June that he would be leaving the sci-fi series later this year.
Early favourites included Harry Potter star Rupert Grint and Being Human actors Russell Tovey and Damien Molony.