Similar to this question posted in August 2014:

Has there ever been an actor who has portrayed the Doctor, but was previously featured in the series as another character?

Has the fact that Peter Capaldi has previously starred in the Doctor Who universe (as Lobus Caecilius in The Fires of Pompeii, and John Frobisher in Torchwood’s Children of Earth season) yet been addressed/explained either in, or out of universe?

  • 3
    They seem to be ignoring his appearance in Torchwood but will address him being on Doctor Who before.
    – Valorum
    Oct 18, 2014 at 14:54
  • @Richard Plot twist: John Frobisher in Torchwood was actually the Twelfth Doctor, disguised as a human as in series 3 episodes 8-9.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 23, 2016 at 15:05
  • Richard E Grant was a Ninth Doctor in Scream of the Shalka; and he also played the character of Dr. Simeon / The Great Intelligence in The Snowmen. Apr 15, 2016 at 1:00
  • I don't have a source, but apparently the Torchwood guy is a descendent of Caecilius.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Apr 15, 2016 at 1:12

3 Answers 3


Not yet, but they will be.

According to an interview with Nerd3, showrunner Steven Moffat says that The Doctor's choice of face is something that will be addressed in-universe.

I remember Russell [T Davies] told me that he had a big old plan as to why there were two Peter Capaldi’s in the Who universe: one in Pompeii and one in Torchwood. When I cast Peter and Russell got in touch to say how pleased he was, I said, ‘Okay, what was your theory and does it still work?” and he said, ‘Yes it does. Here it is…’

We’ll play that one out over time. It’s actually quite neat.

There has already been a sideways reference in "Deep Breath" as The Doctor thinks aloud:

DOCTOR: ... Er, have you seen this face before?
DOCTOR: Are you sure?
BARNEY: Sir, I have never seen that face.
DOCTOR: It's funny, because I'm sure that I have. You know, I never know where the faces come from. They just pop up. Zap. Faces like this one.
DOCTOR: Why this one? Why did I choose this face? It's like I'm trying to tell myself something. Like I'm trying to make a point. But what is so important that I can't just tell myself what I'm thinking?

  • 3
    Unless the reference in Deep Breath was the in-universe attempt to clarify things.
    – Valorum
    Oct 18, 2014 at 15:12
  • 10
    yeah, given Moffat’s usual approach he probably wrote that line and thought “Good good, that clears that up.” Oct 18, 2014 at 15:22
  • 2
    The lines in Deep Breath state that he's seen the face somewhere before and somehow acquired it himself, without really saying why or explaining the mechanism. They might just leave that as an unexplained lampshading of the reuse of actors, or actually clarify it later on. The quote in the answer certainly suggests that there's more to it than some simple "you get a random face that you've seen before when you regenerate" mechanism, and leaves me hopeful for a better explanation.
    – Tim S.
    Oct 18, 2014 at 18:53
  • 1
    Here's an idea: what if Lobus Caecilius is actually The Doctor who forgot who he was like in Human Nature? Aug 4, 2015 at 4:11

As of Series 9, yes.

At the end of series 9 episode 5, The Girl Who Died, after Ashildr


the Doctor argues with himself and talks himself into saving her:

DOCTOR: I can do ... anything. There's nothing I can't do. Nothing. But I'm not supposed to. Ripples, tidal waves, rules ... I'm not supposed to.
Oh. Oh!
CLARA: What? What's wrong?
DOCTOR: My face. Who frowned me this face? Why this one? Why did I choose this face?
CLARA: Doctor, what's wrong with your face?
DOCTOR: I think I know why I chose it. It's like I'm trying to tell myself something. I think I know what I'm trying to say. Just someone. Not the whole town.
DONNA [memory]: Just save someone.
TENTH DOCTOR [memory]: Come with me.
DOCTOR: I know where I got this face, and I know what it's for.
CLARA: OK, what's it for?
DOCTOR: To remind me. To hold me to the mark. I'm the Doctor, and I save people.

The Doctor got his new (Peter Capaldi) face to remind him of the events of series 4 episode 2, The Fires of Pompeii, in which Capaldi appears as the patriarch of a family saved by the Doctor (then played by David Tennant) in lieu of saving the whole town.

  • I think you can delete the spoiler sections: it's not relevant to this question exactly who's died, and the answer's presence makes it obvious that it has been addressed.
    – deltab
    Oct 17, 2015 at 22:19
  • 3
    @deltab Yes, it's not relevant to this question, so the answer works fine with it spoilered out. It is a pretty massive spoiler for this episode though, so I'd like to leave it spoilertagged at least for the time being.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Oct 17, 2015 at 22:21
  • 3
    I'm suggesting you go further than hiding it and delete it entirely. :-)
    – deltab
    Oct 17, 2015 at 22:33

Speaking at the Doctor Who Festival, Moffat explained that, "When I first cast Peter Capaldi as the Doctor I remembered that Russell had said to me that he had a plan to account for the fact that Capaldi turns up in both Doctor Who and Torchwood in different parts. So I wrote to him to ask, 'look, what's the plan? And does it fit?' He said, 'yes! I've worked it out!'

He said that it's about – as the Doctor says – asserting his right to save people. His plan was that in the Torchwood episode – which we couldn't really reference as it would have been difficult in that scene – is that the Doctor asserts himself over time by saving Capaldi's character in The Fires of Pompeii and time re-asserts itself by ending that bloodline in the Torchwood episode [when Frobisher finds himself in a situation that forces him into suicide]. And the Doctor says, 'to hell with you time!' And takes that face and brings it back again. It's the Doctor's eternal battle with doom and destiny.


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