Thousands of Doctor Who fans from across the globe descended on Cardiff to give new Time Lord Peter Capaldi a rousing welcome ahead of his debut performance.
The Scottish actor and co-star Jenna Louise Coleman were given the red carpet treatment as they attended the premiere for the new BBC series, which screens later this month.
Peter takes the helm from previous Doctor Matt Smith and those in the know say he will bring a darker edge to one of TV’s most famous roles.
The first-ever screening of new episode Deep Breath is to be shown the Welsh capital city’s St David’s Hall ahead of a performance at The British Film Institute in London.
A navy blue-suited Peter and Jenna, who turned heads in an elegant red dress, were greeted with roaring cheers from die-hard fans the moment they stepped out of their chaffeur-driven Mercedes and walked the half a mile route up to the venue, signing autographs and dodging a few daleks in the process too.
Tickets to catch a glimpse of Peter in the Doctor’s role were snapped up within minutes – with some fans travelling from as afar as France, Japan and the USA.
Doctor Who’s star said fans could expect a very different Doctor than previous incarnations.
He said: “He’s going to be darker but also very fun. I’m really excited about people’s reactions. For me as a big Doctor Who fan this a dream come true.”
The show’s writer Steven Moffat said he was impressed by the turnout in Cardiff – which brought the usually busy shopping mecca The Hayes to a complete standstill.
“I’ve been to some big premieres in LA, and the turnout and response here has been even better than those,” he added.
Jenna, who reprises her role as Clara Oswald, said the cast and crew were excited to see what the audience reaction would be when the new series airs on TV on August 23.
“We were given a special showing last night and we can’t wait for people to see the new series,” she added. “The new Doctor is going to be darker than before and there are lots of surprises in store.”
Among those standing behind the crowd barriers hoping to catch an autograph with the 12th Doctor and his assistant were the Fedderson family from Chicago.
They had originally booked a holiday to France, but decided to amend their plans when they heard a premiere was happening in Cardiff two weeks ago.
Mother Kristan, 47, said: “My husband Brett and I have been fans of the show since the 1980s.
“We couldn’t believe we were going to be in Europe when the premiere was happening, so we knew we had to come across to Cardiff.
“Our daughters Taylor and Lauren have become big fans of the show as well. So I woke up at 3.30am so I could call the hotline to get tickets to the premiere. Amazingly we got the last set of tickets so we’re overjoyed.”
A bit closer to home was Penarth mother-of-two Kat Max, 40 – who was dressed in a giant Dalek costume – despite the soaring summer sun.
“We’ve been excited about this for weeks,” she said. “We couldn’t get tickets for today but didn’t mind turning up to catch a glimpse of Peter Capaldi.
“The whole family loves the show – although I think I’m more scared of the monsters than the children.”
Lifelong Doctor Who fan 68-year-old Necia Eades, from Cardiff Bay, said she believes Capaldi will make a fantastic Doctor.
She said: “I’ve been watching the show since the first series when I was a teenager. Peter’s a great choice because he’s the fans’ choice.
“He’s just like one of us and the way he has been today shows it – he’s signed so many autographs and given loads of his time to speak to people.”
Peter, Jenna and Steven Moffat are set to embark on worldwide whirlwind tour to promote the BBC show.
They will then go on to visit five continents in 12 days, calling in at seven cities, ahead of the eighth series’ launch. The tour, which ends in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil on August 19, will call in to South Korea, Australia, the US and Mexico.
Doctor Who bosses say it is the largest promotional tour undertaken for the show which is seen around the world and is on a high after its 50th anniversary celebrations last year. A special episode, The Day Of The Doctor, was broadcast in 98 countries simultaneously and was seen in more than 1,500 cinemas.
The first feature-length edition of the new series, called Deep Breath, will be beamed into screens around the globe from August 23.
Set in Victorian London, the first episode will feature familiar characters Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) and Strax (Dan Starkey).
Meanwhile, Peter has said he has been throwing himself into the show’s action scenes.
The 56-year-old actor told ShortList: “I don’t want to be an old Doctor just standing in the corner with the young people doing all the action for me.
“The other day I was on wires falling through the air – well, skydiving. I was loving it, I didn’t want to get down – it was like being nine, because you don’t normally get to play Doctor Who and Superman at the same time,” he added.