Peter Capaldi’s Advice for Battling Foes and Handling Cynics

The "Doctor Who" actor tells our audience what a tardy Time Lord would do, and how to deal with those who would dare criticize his show.

Photo Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Earlier in this week’s show, Peter Capaldi recalled his days as a “Doctor Who” fan (before landing the lead role years later) and told us exactly why he decided to portray the Doctor all weird and prickly. So naturally, we asked Peter to hang around to answer etiquette questions. Read on to learn how to kill someone with a stethoscope.
DPD-BannerRico Gagliano: Peter, a lot of very excited Whovians have written in with etiquette questions for you — you ready for these?

Peter Capaldi: OK!

Brendan Francis Newnam: All right. First question comes from Michael in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. That sounds German.

Peter Capaldi: Emmaus?

Brendan Francis Newnam: Emmaus. [Mimicking German accent] Michael from Emmaus, Pennsylvania, has a question!

Choose your weapon

Brendan Francis Newnam: “Dear Doctor: is it considered polite to use fancy silverware to fight against a medical foe, and if so, what is the best piece of silverware to use?”

Rico Gagliano: A “medical foe,” for some reason, is specified.

Peter Capaldi: First of all, is he addressing this question to me, or to the Doctor? He says “The Doctor.”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, we said that you were coming here, but he obviously doesn’t make a distinction. You’ve been so successful that you are no longer Peter Capaldi.

Photo Credit: Simon Ridgway, © BBC WORLDWIDE LIMITED
Photo Credit: Simon Ridgway, © BBC WORLDWIDE LIMITED

Peter Capaldi: Well, I wonder whether there’s been a little spellcheck operated, or a little auto-texting?

Brendan Francis Newnam: Auto-correct?

Peter Capaldi: Because, the question sounds to me like an echo of… there’s a scene in “Doctor Who,” where the Doctor meets Robin Hood, and the Doctor fights him with a spoon.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh, so it should be “medieval!”

Peter Capaldi: Maybe. So give me the question again.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So, “Dear Doctor: is it considered polite to use fancy silverware to fight against a medieval foe, and if so, what is the best piece of silverware to use?”

Peter Capaldi: It’s a spoon. A spoon is the best piece! Well, that’s because the Doctor has his own spoon, which will be available [laughs] as a piece of merchandising, with a whole cutlery set.

Brendan Francis Newnam: I have a counter-theory, though. Michael from Emmaus already knows the answer, then, right? So, maybe he really wants to know how to fight a “medical foe.”

Peter Capaldi: What is a “medical foe”?

Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, I’m just saying — a “medieval foe,” we know the answer is a spoon. Michael probably knows that. A “medical foe”… If Doctor Who was fighting a real doctor…

Rico Gagliano: …What would you use?

Peter Capaldi: A stethoscope! I would strangle him with a stethoscope.

Rico Gagliano: Ohhh. For some reason, I thought it would go down the windpipe, but you’re going to wrap it around the neck.

Peter Capaldi: I think it’d be more messy, getting it down the windpipe. You could also use it like a whip — [makes whip sound effect] whup-AH! Like that!

Brendan Francis Newnam: All right. So, Michael, use a stethoscope to kill medical foes.

Proper napkin form

Rico Gagliano: Here’s something from Chelsea in Forked River, New Jersey. Easy to pronounce.

Peter Capaldi: Forked River!

Brendan and Rico: Yes!

Peter Capaldi: What a great place to live.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Maybe… one half of it, anyway.

Rico Gagliano: Chelsea writes:

“I’m going to have family over for dinner, and half of my family places their napkin on their laps. The other half of my family places it on the table. Which is the right way?”

Peter Capaldi: Why would it be on the table? I mean, obviously, if you give me time, I can run outside and speak to my butler, who will tell me. Being that I am British, I always have a butler. I’m like Batman. But I think it’s on the lap. Why would it be on the table?

Rico Gagliano: I mean, it’s quicker getting it to your face if it’s on the table.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Are they sloppy eaters?

Peter Capaldi: But why don’t they have the tucking-into-your-shirt option? What’s wrong with that? Has that not come to Forked River, yet?

Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s right, because if you’re in a restaurant, putting it on the table means, “I’m done, you can take my plate.”

Peter Capaldi: Oh, is that actually a recognized, international symbol?

Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh absolutely. It’s an SOS to have your plate removed.

Peter Capaldi: OK. So I would encourage them to tuck in at the neck.

What would a tardy Time Lord do?

Brendan Francis Newnam: OK — this question comes from Bliss in Madison, Alabama.

“Peter Capaldi…”

Peter Capaldi: Hi, Bliss!

Brendan Francis Newnam: “…As a Time Lord, can you comment on the best way to make an entrance if you’re late to a party?”

Peter Capaldi: Well, I would never show up late. I think that’s very rude.

Rico Gagliano: She’s asking you as a Time Lord, though. Would a Time Lord show up late?

Peter Capaldi: As a Time Lord, I hate parties. What’s the point of a party? The Doctor would just think, “What a waste of time! Get out there and see the stars being born!”

Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s right. “Watch the trash swirl around.”

Peter Capaldi: “Go look at the Big Bang. Go and see that happen and watch the trash swirl around.”

I think the best way to show up late is apologetically. But obviously, I would arrive in the TARDIS and that would just be so great, and such a–

Brendan Francis Newnam: It would be pretty impressive.

Peter Capaldi: — Yeah, because that’s my time machine, and it would just… a little gale would blow through the party, and there’d be a swirling noise with some music, some dry ice — I travel with my own dry ice now. People would go, “Wow, who is this guy? We don’t care if he’s late. He’s a miracle!”

And also, he can say, “Everybody, come into the TARDIS. I’m going to take you back in time three hours, and we’re all going to show up again, and I won’t be late.”

Rico Gagliano: That’s right. “And every bad conversation you had, we’ll just avoid.”

Peter Capaldi: Yeah!

Brendan Francis Newnam: See but that’s the thing. I feel like with the TARDIS, you would never be late. You have no right to be late.

Peter Capaldi: Well, you can’t quite control it. That’s the thing with the TARDIS, it malfunctions. But, you can occasionally make it work properly. So I think that’s what you do. You say, “I’m sorry I’m late. Let’s come into the TARDIS. We’ll all come back three hours ago, and we can start the party again.”

Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who with the aforementioned TARDIS in the background. Photo Credit: © BBC WORLDWIDE LIMITED
Peter Capaldi as the Doctor with the aforementioned TARDIS in the background. Photo Credit: © BBC WORLDWIDE LIMITED

Brendan Francis Newnam: Maybe more than three hours ago, because we can’t be sure.

Peter Capaldi: Ah, but we also can’t run into ourselves.

Rico Gagliano: Ohhhh! So we’ll do it three hours ago, in France.

Peter Capaldi: Yeah, or on another planet or something. But if we came back to the same party, we could cause the end of the universe really, by running into ourselves.

Rico Gagliano: That’s a terrible thing to do at a party.

Peter Capaldi: We could go back to Versailles, and ask questions about napkins.

Rico Gagliano: And they will know. Those guys will have answers.

Peter Capaldi: They’ll have a big solution. They’ll have a big napkin hat.

Brendan Francis Newnam: I think they’ll have a person sitting in their lap with a napkin [laughs], just there to wipe your mouth.

Peter Capaldi: A lapkin! A lapkin!

Rico Gagliano: There you are.

Peter Capaldi: I like it! There it is!

Rico Gagliano: There are a lot of options for Bliss, it seems. Go back to Versailles… but it does involve the TARDIS, so, keep that in mind, Bliss.

Peter Capaldi: Thanks, Bliss.

The best way to approach actors on set

Brendan Francis Newnam: All right, we have another question. This one comes from Anonymous, who listed a home ZIP code of 11111, which doesn’t exist. So they really don’t want you to know who they are. Anonymous writes:

“I’m a big fan of a certain TV show, and recently gained access to the set via a backstage pass I won in a contest. I get to see how my favorite show gets made, as well as see the actors up close and personal. However, there’s no mention of an official meet-and-greet with the actors. So, I was wondering: when would be the proper time to ask them for pictures and autographs? I would like to respect their private space, especially while they’re working. Thanks.”

Peter Capaldi: I love that. Isn’t that respectful?

Rico Gagliano: It is, but I get a feeling that, if you say, “Don’t come and talk to us,” they’re just going to jump security and attack you. So give them a way to meet you, is what I’m saying.

Peter Capaldi: I think a good time is… if you’re going to be on the set and they’re doing a scene, try and figure out when the scene has ended. Usually, they say “cut.”

Photo Credit: Simon Ridgway, © BBC WORLDWIDE LIMITED
Photo Credit: Simon Ridgway, © BBC WORLDWIDE LIMITED

Rico Gagliano: Don’t just run in.

Peter Capaldi: Because, once it’s done, everyone will be a bit more relaxed. If you go in before they start filming the scene, they’re going to be a little bit tense. If you go in during the scene, everyone will…

Rico Gagliano: Kill you.

Peter Capaldi: … Security will take you away. But, if you wait until the end of the scene, everyone will be, “Ah! Thank God that’s over. Let’s move onto the next one… oh! Here’s a lovely little person from America! Do you want some napkin advice? Let me show you this new thing I’ve got here. It’s called a lapkin! I’ve got my own personal lapkin.”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Actually, this guy could be your lapkin.

Rico Gagliano: Anonymous, reveal yourself, and you, too, could be Peter Capaldi’s lapkin.

Brendan Francis Newnam: It’s a new contest.

Rico Gagliano: You’ve done it, Anonymous!

What to do when someone rubbishes “Doctor Who”

Rico Gagliano: Here’s the last question. It’s from Alex in London, England.

Alex says — [laughs] this is an order to us! Alex orders us to, “Ask him…” that would be you, Peter… “Ask him what to do if someone rubbishes your favorite thing? For instance, ‘Doctor Who’ is for kids!”

Peter Capaldi: Well, I would say, “You know what, my friend? Yes, it is for kids. And it’s also for young adults. It’s also for hipsters.”

Rico Gagliano: “But it’s not for jerks.”

Brendan Francis Newnam: What about old, normal people?

Peter Capaldi: Old, normal people. “It’s for wild, crazy rock and roll people. It’s for everyone!”

Brendan Francis Newnam: No matter how you use your napkin!

Peter Capaldi: You wipe your glasses and you go up to that guy and you say, “‘Doctor Who’, my friend, is for everyone. And you’re neither smart nor clever for thinking otherwise!”

Rico Gagliano: Peter Capaldi, thank you so much for telling our audience, and particularly that gentleman, how to behave.

Peter Capaldi: Thank you. It was a pleasure to be here.