For any actor, playing the role of Doctor Who can be a highly contentious role, one that is filled with fandom, myth and legend.
But for showrunner Stephen Moffat and retiring Doctor Peter Capaldi, the responsibilities that come with playing the role of the time travelling doctor will stay with the actor forever.
Because once you’ve played the Doctor, you need to make sure his image isn’t tarnished.
In a recent interview with Digital Spy, Moffatt told of how former Doctors have an ’emphatic’ responsibility that stays with the actors for the rest of their lives.
He said: ‘You will always be an ambassador for the show. I remember us saying that when Matt Smith took over – “You have been rude to your last taxi driver… and we don’t mean for the next three years, we mean for the rest of your life!”
‘And I remember Matt himself saying, “Imagine how awful it would be if somebody had to carry the memory that Doctor Who was rude to them. You would remember it on your deathbed, you’d still be thinking about that!”
‘So you have to be Doctor Who forever… and nobody who’s played the Doctor has ever thought, “Am I contractually obliged to do this?” – no, it’s a role for life,’ he continued.
Writer and actor Mark Gatiss also confirmed the sheer gravitas of the former Doctors, retelling a story from another previous incarnation of the famed Time Lord.
‘I remember distinctly reading that Tom Baker had given up smoking in the street, because he couldn’t bear the idea of children seeing him like that. Things have slightly changed, but it’s the same principle, isn’t it? It’s an ambassadorial role.’
Finally, the current Doctor Capaldi – who will reappear on our screens this Christmas in a festive special featuring the First Doctor, William Hartnell – insisted that the extra-curricular activities and pressure that fall on Doctor Who alumni are of no hassle to him, but rather a part and parcel of the honour that comes with the role.
‘As a kid, I liked Doctor Who, so I wouldn’t have liked to have met Doctor Who and found them to be rather unpleasant, or preoccupied with other things. And it doesn’t take much to be friendly. So I just try to be friendly to them, that’s all.’
And in case you haven’t heard, Jodie Whittaker will be piloting the Tardis from next year as the first ever female incarnation of the Doctor.
And judging from her meetings with fans, she’s already taken to the responsibilities of playing the world’s most famous Doctor.