By Peter Griffiths
LONDON (Reuters) - A British actor best known for playing a foul-mouthed political spin doctor was named on Sunday as the new lead in the BBC's "Doctor Who", the long-running science fiction series that has terrified generations of children.
Ending months of speculation, Britain's public broadcaster said Peter Capaldi, 55, will be the 12th Doctor, a time travelling adventurer who first appeared on screens in 1963.
Racing through time and space in a blue police telephone box, the Time Lord has battled foes such as the Cybermen, the Weeping Angels and the Daleks. Episodes in the last series drew record audiences for BBC America in 2012.
Capaldi, born in Glasgow, Scotland, said he was thrilled to take on the position previously held by 30-year-old Matt Smith.
Capaldi's most famous role to date was that of Malcolm Tucker, the prime minister's aggressive media chief and policy enforcer in "The Thick of It", a BBC political comedy which also had a big screen incarnation in the 2009 movie "In the Loop".
"Malcolm has been banished from the mirror by this new doctor who would certainly not put up with Malcolm's language or attitudes to the world," Capaldi said at the end of a live show announcing the name of the new Doctor that was shown on BBC channels around the world.
The actor had been the bookmakers' favorite to take on a role that has long been a fixture of British popular culture. He joked that it was a relief that the secret was finally out.
"For a while I couldn't tell my daughter, who would be looking on the Internet and discovering that people were saying so-and-so should be Doctor Who. She was getting rather upset that they never mentioned me," he said.
The BBC said Capaldi's debut as the Doctor will be broadcast on Christmas Day.
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)