By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) -- Scottish actor Peter Capaldi is the next star of the long-running science fiction series "Doctor Who," the BBC announced Sunday.
The identity of the new Doctor had been the subject of frantic speculation, and the revelation was made with fanfare befitting one of Britain's best-known shows, during a live suppertime television broadcast.
The 55-year-old Capaldi is best known as venom-spitting spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in political sitcom "The Thick of It" and its film spin-off, "In the Loop."
He has a long list of movie, television and stage credits, from the 1983 film "Local Hero" to the BBC's recent newsroom drama "The Hour." He's also an Oscar winner -- he directed "Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life," which won the Academy Award for best short film in 1994.
Capaldi is the 12th actor to play the Doctor, a galaxy-hopping Time Lord who travels in the Tardis, a time machine shaped like an old-fashioned British police telephone booth.
"Doctor Who" was first broadcast in 1963 and is now one of the BBC's most popular programs, both in Britain and abroad.
Its longevity is due partly to the flexibility of the premise. The Doctor can regenerate into new bodies and can travel to any point in space or time.
"Doctor Who" ran from 1963 to 1989, and was revived to acclaim in 2005. Since then, the Doctor has been played by Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith, who took the part in 2010.
Capaldi, a fan of the show since childhood, said that "being asked to play the Doctor is an amazing privilege."
"Like the Doctor himself I find myself in a state of utter terror and delight," he said.
Smith will leave after a November episode to mark the show's 50th anniversary, and a Christmas special.