Peter Capaldi: ‘My closest brush with the law? I was arrested in connection with a bomb explosion’

Born in Glasgow, Peter Capaldi, 63, was the 12th incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who. In 2010, he won a Bafta for his portrayal of Malcolm Tucker, the prime minister’s political enforcer, in The Thick Of It. From 23 June, he stars in Constellations at the Vaudeville theatre in London. He is married to the actor Elaine Collins; they have a daughter and live in London.

What is your earliest memory?
I can vividly recall being in an old-fashioned pram with a hood and seeing sunshine and what was, I realise now, the grey stone of a Glasgow tenement.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself
I was brought up to be very polite, so that becomes quite tiring, particularly if you are off the telly. I do like people, but I am often exhausted by this overwhelming need to make it all right for them to meet me.

What makes you unhappy?
The spreading and celebration of wilful ignorance by people who should know better.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
The daily vanishing of the young bits.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
The grant system. It allowed people like me, from modest backgrounds, to go into further education without being saddled with debt.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I can’t settle on a table at a restaurant or a cafe. I’ll pick one, move to another, then feel that I’ve made a mistake and go back to my original table. I can bounce around for 15 minutes.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Because of Doctor Who, I’ve had to make up so many bogus answers to this question, so I never want to answer it again.

What is the worst job you’ve done?
I have been pretty terrible in quite a lot of terrible things.

What is the worst thing anyone has said to you?
In volleyball, my PE teacher would say: “The most important thing is to find the fault in the other team.” And then he would throw the ball at me – I was the fault. That was teaching in the west of Scotland in the 1970s.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife.

What does love feel like?

What was the best kiss of your life?
12 September 1985, under a street lamp in Glasgow with Elaine.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
I am always disappointed when I see myself on the screen.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Death is always close.

What has been your closest brush with the law?
In 1975, in York (I must have been 17): there was a bomb explosion. It was 3am, I was with some pals and we were picked up by the police who, hearing our Scottish accents, seemed to connect us to the explosion. We were taken in for questioning, which was scary, but it didn’t take them long to suss out these fey youngsters were incapable of a bomb plot.

What keeps you awake at night?
Our ancient cat miaowing, because it’s got dementia.

What song would you like played at your funeral?
Johnny Cash’s version of Danny Boy.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.

The Guardian

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