Peter Capaldi tips Frances de la Tour to take on Doctor Who mantle

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BBC Films' 25th Anniversary Reception - London

Peter Capaldi has tipped Frances de la Tour to be the next Doctor Who star.

After four years as the Time Lord, the Thick Of It actor announced this week he is stepping down from the role this year, and would like to see a woman take his place.

In an interview with the Mirror, he said: "The time felt right to bow out, to let somebody else play this wonderful role and I would like Frances de la Tour to be first female doctor."

De la Tour, 72, has a 50-year acting career behind her and is best known for playing half-giantess headmistress Madame Olympe Maxime in the Harry Potter films and landlord Rigsby's tenant Ruth in 1970s comedy series Rising Damp.

Former Doctor Who star Billie Piper has already ruled herself out of becoming the first female doctor, saying the responsibility would be "too enormous".

Agreeing that she would also like to see a woman in the role, she said her vote would be for Captain America star Hayley Atwell.

Describing her as a "sassy" option, Piper told the Press Association: "She would be amazing and she's a friend of mine so I will call her and see what she's saying."

Capaldi, 58, will return for the 10th series of the relaunched show, with 12 episodes starting in April, followed by the Christmas special.

His final series will also end with the departure of writer and executive producer Steven Moffat.

Capaldi told BBC Radio 2: "One of the greatest privileges of being Doctor Who is to see the world at its best.

"From our brilliant crew and creative team working for the best broadcaster on the planet, to the viewers and fans whose endless creativity, generosity and inclusiveness points to a brighter future ahead.

"I can't thank everyone enough. It's been cosmic."