If you saw Doctor Who Live on Sunday night, or our previous posts on the subject here and here , you’ll know that Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi is a lifelong Doctor Who fan. But did you know that the youthful Capaldi was so keen on the series that he wanted to run the Official Doctor Who Fan Club?
Further proof that the actor is One Of Us comes in the book The Official Doctor Who Fan Club Volume One (published last year). It recounts how the dormant club was taken over in January 1971 by Edinburgh-based 13-year-old fan Keith Miller. He was given assistance from the BBC, who agreed to post off copies of his newsletter to save him money on postage. He also maintained a regular, friendly correspondence with Sarah Newman, secretary of Doctor Who producer Barry Letts.
According to Miller's account, a certain Peter Capaldi from Glasgow (then 14 years old) was something of a thorn in his side. “He haunted my time running the fan club, as he was quite indignant he wasn’t considered for the post."
Speaking to Starburst last year (issue 378), he went into more detail: "I was given the fan club to take the strain of dealing with the advent of the super-fans like Peter Capaldi... who wanted a running dialogue with the production team, away from Sarah. They had been writing to the show for some time... I was given the club after my second letter and they were more than a little put out by this, and of course I was now in the way of them and the show. Fan politics was born!"
This June 1972 letter (reproduced in the book) shows how Newman passed Capaldi’s details on to Miller.
It seems the wee Peter was persistent, though. Unfortunately this evidently didn't endear him to the producer's secretary. In another letter to the young Miller from August 1972, Newman joked, "I wish the Daleks or someone would exterminate him or something to that effect."
Miller continues the story in his book.
"During the next phone call to Sarah, I asked how things were going with Peter Capaldi. 'Oh god, I wish someone would sort him out.' Then she paused. 'Actually, he lives in Scotland too - could you pop over to Glasgow and sort him out for me?' I giggled nervously, quickly finished the call, and worriedly headed back to the house. Was she being serious? Did she actually want me to go over to Glasgow and 'Sort him out'? Was I to become Doctor Who 's hitman?... Seriously, I worried about this for days."
Thankfully, the teenager didn't take this joke at face value and deprive us of a great actor of the future by assassinating this rival who wished to usurp his lofty position.
Over forty years later, both men have grown up and long since left this epic struggle for power behind them. Keith Miller won the battle, but Peter Capaldi has definitely had the last laugh...
Thank you to Keith Miller for allowing us to reproduce these images and quotes from his book.
You can buy both volumes of The Official Doctor Who Fan Club from Keith Miller's website .
See what Peter Capaldi told SFX about his love of Doctor Who.
Read a Doctor Who fanzine article written by a young Peter Capaldi.
See Peter Capaldi rocking a bow tie in a 1981 photo of his post-punk band.