Thick Of It
Credit: Andy Paradise/BBC/Everett Collection

So, now we know: The BBC has just revealed that the new star of Doctor Who is Peter Capaldi. The 55-year-old Scottish actor is well known the U.K. In the U.S.? Not so much. Here are five things you need to know about the Twelfth Doctor.

1. He’s appeared on Doctor Who before

In 2008, Capaldi played a character called Caecilius who David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor encountered when he visited ancient Pompeii. He also starred in the Who spin-off show Torchwood. Capaldi is not the first actor to have appeared on the show and then later be cast as the Time Lord. Sixth Doctor Colin Baker played a character called Maxil during the TARDIS tenure of his immediate predecessor, Fifth Doctor Peter Davison.

The actor is a longtime fan of Doctor Who. In 1972, the then 14-year-old Capaldi wrote “loads of letters” to the science fiction show and eventually received a package in return from Who producer Barry Letts. “My surprise package contained set designs and studio floor plans, as well as a letter giving me an idea what all this stuff was,” Capaldi told British newspaper The Daily Star in 1998. “That was a trigger to my ambition to work in TV.”

2. He used to play in a band with Craig Ferguson

While studying illustration at the Glasgow School of Art, Capaldi sang in a band called the Bastards From Hell, whose drummer was a certain well-known figure: Craig Ferguson. The Late Late Show host claims it was Capaldi who convinced him to try his hand at comedy. ”Peter was the first person who told me that being funny was a gift and, when done well, was an art form,” Ferguson wrote in his 2009 memoir. ”Up until this point, I had learned that being funny, particularly in school, was stupid and could get you physically injured.”

3. He’s really good at swearing

Capaldi’s lengthy list of acting credits includes the films Local Hero, The Lair of the White Worm, and Dangerous Liaisons, as well as the TV shows The Hour and the original, British version of Skins. But in the U.K., Capaldi is famous for his role as the terrifying, foul-mouthed political enforcer Malcolm Tucker in the BBC sitcom The Thick of It. (Random ‘Tuckerism’: “I’ve got a to-do list here that’s longer than a f—ing Leonard Cohen song!”) The actor played Tucker on the big screen in 2009’s In the Loop, which costarred Anna Chlumsky and James Gandolfini.

4. Brad and Angelina are fans

Capaldi was most recently seen playing a (sadly non-swearing scientist) opposite Brad Pitt in the Wales-set climax of World War Z. He also has a role in the forthcoming, Angelina Jolie-starring Maleficent.

5. He’s an Oscar-winning director

In 1995 Capaldi won the Live Action Short Film Oscar for directing the mini-movie comedy Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life, whose stars included recent Doctor Who villain Richard E. Grant.

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