Doctor Who Best Episode Poll Prompts Reaction From 12th Doctor

Twelfth Doctor actor Peter Capaldi shares his thoughts on his penultimate season 9 episode, "Heaven Sent", being selected by fans as Doctor Who's best episode of the series' entire history to date. Capaldi took on the role of the Time Lord in 2013's seasonal special, "The Time of the Doctor", following a surprising cameo in the 50th anniversary story, "The Day of the Doctor", and would lead the series across three seasons until 2017. In "Heaven Sent", the Doctor is trapped in a mysterious castle, fending off a terrifying, unkillable monster alone as he tries to discover a way out.

When joining actress Kathy Burke on her When There's A Will, There's A Wake podcast (via Radio Times), Capaldi opened up about "Heaven Sent" topping a poll held by Doctor Who Magazine to select the series' best story to mark Doctor Who's 60th anniversary. Stating how much he enjoyed the Steven Moffat-penned and Rachel Talalay-directed episode, Capaldi admitted he was surprised to see it selected with its heavier themes surrounding death, but was confident that it was because it is a story able to captivate and be understood by a wide audience. Check out Capaldi's full explanation below:

That was lovely, it was an episode that was written by the wonderful Steven Moffat who looked after the show when I was in it. "It was very unusual. It was beautifully directed by Rachel Talalay, who’s a lovely American lady. [With] Doctor Who, you’ve got to talk about monsters and it’s a sort of circus – kids love it and everybody’s got to be entertained but actually underneath it all, there’s a sense of melancholy and death. "That particular episode’s just all about death and I think that’s fascinating that that episode became the all-time favourite.

[Kids are] smart in the sense they understand instinctively that there’s darkness and there are things around and the monsters are manifestations of that. "But also the fact that the central character in Doctor Who will die – even though they come back as somebody else, the one that you love has gone, and that’s a very compelling and powerful thing to have at the centre of a show.

Heaven Sent Exemplifies What Makes The Doctor A Character Beloved Across Generations

The second chapter in a three-part arc focused on the death of companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), "Heaven Sent" sees the Doctor trapped in a castle within the Confession Dial, a device introduced at the start of Doctor Who season 9. Pursued by a creature that will fatally wound him and trapped in a cycle thanks to a machine that can resurrect him, the Doctor spends over four billion years fighting on to escape. Ultimately, the Doctor breaks free of his prison, emerging back home on the once-lost Gallifrey, ready to face the Hybrid prophecy.

With Capaldi the sole performer for the majority of the episode, "Heaven Sent" relies on the actor's skill to explore a Doctor grieving over his recently lost friend while trapped in a hopeless scenario. Despite these dire and terrifying circumstances, "Heaven Sent" instead sees the Doctor press on against all odds, defying death and unbreakable obstacles through his sheer will alone, stripping away the TARDIS and sonic gadgets to summarize the Time Lord's true determination and inner strength. "Heaven Sent" stands out as a beloved Doctor Who episode that exemplifies why the character has endured for six decades.

As both a longtime fan and man who has played the Time Lord himself, Capaldi has a perspective on Doctor Who shared by very few. As such, the actor can appreciate the series as both an actor who crafted his own incarnation while also growing up with the values the series leaves its viewers with since the adventure first began in 1963. While he may be somewhat surprised by "Heaven Sent" outmaneuvering other tales for fans' appreciation, it is clear from his explanation that he is aware why the 2015 episode left its mark on viewers.

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