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Peter Capaldi Tapped to Play Next 'Doctor Who'

UPDATED: The 50-year-old British series announces the "Thick of It" star as a replacement for outgoing lead Matt Smith.

Peter Capaldi - P 2013
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Peter Capaldi

Doctor Who has named its 12th Doctor.

During a Sunday BBC One special, actor Peter Capaldi was revealed as the latest to topline the 50-year-old British franchise. He'll join the sci-fi series when current lead Matt Smith departs the role after this year's Christmas special.

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The news came with a great deal of pomp and circumstance, with both BBC One and stateside cable network BBC America devoting an hour to the live reveal.

“If I had to pick someone I’d pick him," said Smith, teasing the announcement earlier in the broadcast. "I’m excited because I know what’s coming, and he’s going to have a blast.”

Likely best known for his portrayal of foul-mouthed government communications guru Malcolm Tucker in Armando Iannucci's The Thick of It, Capaldi has been eyed as a favorite to take on Doctor Who for some time.

His casting takes the series back towards the more "classic" Doctors, such as those portrayed by Tom Baker and Peter Davison. The latest iteration of the Doctor Who series, which kicked off in 2005, originally saw Christopher Eccleston in the role before younger actors David Tennant and Smith took it on.

Capaldi, 55, has an Academy Award for writing and directing the 1993 short Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life. In the Loop, World War Z and the upcoming Julian Assange flick The Fifth Estate are among his biggest film credits and his TV work includes The Hour, Torchwood and Skins.

He also has several ties to the series. In 1974, a 15-year-old Capaldi wrote of his love of the series in a letter published in Radio Times. He also acted alongside Tennant's Doctor in the 2008 episode of the series, "The Fires of Pompeii."

While in art school, Capaldi was also the lead singer in a punk rock band with Doctor Who super-fan and late-night host Craig Ferguson.

Capaldi is repped in the U.K. by United Agents.