Top 20 Best TV Shows starring Peter Capaldi

By Adam Lock
Published: October 25, 2022 (Last updated: last month)

We discuss the Top 20 Best TV Shows starring Peter Capaldi! Bookmark this page and check out these recommendations.

Peter Capaldi is one of the finest actors of our time and, surprisingly, one of the most prolific too. The Scottish thespian has managed to build a highly successful career over multiple decades by taking on exciting supporting roles in a number of TV and film spots. On the silver screen, Capaldi can be found wowing audiences in the Paddington movies and The Suicide Squad, yet he is most famous for his stand-out TV appearances. Capaldi portrayed the twelfth Doctor in Doctor Who and mesmerized viewers as the filthy-mouthed Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It.

With Capaldi starring in Prime Video’s The Devil’s Hour, it only seemed fitting to explore his illustrious and ever-expanding television career. The following list has been ordered by the IMDB ratings alone, as not enough of the shows have a Rotten Tomatoes score on the site currently. So without further ado, here are the top 20 best TV shows starring Peter Capaldi.

Top 20 Best TV Shows starring Peter Capaldi

20. The Musketeers (2014 – 2016)

This British period drama ran for three seasons on the BBC, with Capaldi starring as Cardinal Richelieu in the first season only of The Musketeers. He had to leave the series early on though after discovering he’d been chosen as the next Doctor, which is an opportunity that cannot be squandered. The series brought a contemporary twist to the famous Three Musketeers story. Critics praised it for its fun, sarcastic flair, whilst Capaldi was clearly enjoying himself as the stereotypical bad guy here.

Cast: Tom Burke, Santiago Cabrera, Howard Charles, Luke Pasqualino, Alexandra Dowling.

IMDB Rating: 7.8/10

19. Minder (1979 – 1994)

One of the most successful shows on ITV at its peak, Minder was a comedy-drama series starring Dennis Waterman as a personal bodyguard. The sitcom explored the working class of London and ran for 11 seasons. Peter Capaldi made one appearance in 1985’s episode “Life in the Fast Food Lane”, playing Ozzie. This was one of Capaldi’s first TV roles, delving into the comedy arena again after starring in the 1983 film Local Hero.

Cast: Dennis Waterman, George Cole, Glynn Edwards, Patrick Malahide, Peter Childs.

IMDB Rating: 7.8/10

18. The Afternoon Play (2003 – 2007)

The anthology series The Afternoon Play aired on BBC One in the noughties, consisting of 25 episodes, and running over five consecutive years. The show was nominated for a BAFTA award and starred plenty of up-and-coming British actors, including two soon-to-be Doctors (Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker). Capaldi can be found in the fifth episode of season three, “The Singing Cactus”, where he played Billy Shannon. This is an obscure find indeed that hard-core fans may want to try and seek out.

Cast: Peter Capaldi, Geff Francis, Melanie Hill, Ray Quinn.

IMDB Rating: 7.9/10

17. Midsomer Murders (1997 – present)

One of the few unstoppable crime dramas in British TV history, Midsomer Murders has been running since the late nineties, releasing a small collection of episodes annually for well over two decades now, which has led to over 100 episodes airing on ITV. Peter Capaldi appeared in the 2006 episode “Death in Chorus”, where he portrayed Laurence Barker in another whodunit mystery. This was just around the time that Capaldi was starting to grow as a TV star, but it was just before he fully hit the mainstream.

Cast: John Nettles, Daniel Casey, Barry Jackson, Jane Wymark, Laura Howard.

IMDB Rating: 7.9/10

16. Waking the Dead (2000 – 2011)

Another long-running British series that Capaldi briefly featured in, Waking the Dead was a police procedural about a cold case unit attempting to crack unsolved crimes. Capaldi starred in the double feature “The Fall” as Lucien Calvin, back in 2007. This was yet another staple of BBC programming, with actors like Capaldi seemingly doing the rounds on each subsequent series, as he built up his portfolio of work.

Cast: Trevor Eve, Sue Johnston, Will Johnson, Claire Goose, Holly Aird.

IMDB Rating: 7.9/10

15. Travelling Man (1984 – 1985)

A very youthful-looking Peter Capaldi starred in this long-forgotten eighties drama series. Travelling Man may be quite the controversial addition to the list, as it hasn’t received that many votes on IMDB, but it seems to have won over a small fan base decades later. The show is about an ex-detective inspector, who was wrongly imprisoned for two years. On his exit from prison, he wants answers. Capaldi played John in “Blow Up”, the penultimate episode in the second season.

Cast: Leigh Lawson, Lindsay Duncan, Derek Newark, Freddie Jones, Meg Wynn Owen.

IMDB Rating: 8/10

14. The Hour (2011 – 2012)

Starring Dominic West and Ben Whishaw this BBC Two drama centers on a current-affairs TV show in the fifties, around the time of the Hungarian Revolution and the Suez Crisis. Capaldi played the Head of News Randall Brown in the second season of The Hour. The second season was seen as an improvement upon the first, with one critic quoting that it was better than Mad Men, which is a bold statement indeed. This is another one of those shows to hunt out after it was untimely canceled, seemingly falling completely out of memory in the process.

Cast: Dominic West, Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai, Vanessa Kirby, Tom Burke.

IMDB Rating: 8/10

13. Accused (2010 – 2012)

BBC anthology series from creator Jimmy McGovern, who also created the 2021 series Time, starring Sean Bean and Stephen Graham. Each episode of Accused focused on a different story, exploring whether or not the suspect in the plot was guilty of the crime they were accused of committing. Capaldi appeared in “Helen’s Story” alongside Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) and Juliet Stevenson, he played the father of the victim.

Cast: Christopher Eccleston, Andy Serkis, Mackenzie Crook, Juliet Stevenson, Alfie Allen.

IMDB Rating: 8/10

12. The Vicar of Dibley (1994 – 2020)

One of Britain’s most beloved comedy series, The Vicar of Dibley is a pure delight to behold. The sitcom by Richard Curtis told the story of female vicar Geraldine Granger (Dawn French), who found herself placed in a rather eccentric little town. It’s a hilarious series with a heart of gold that is cherished by fans around the world. Capaldi played Tristan Campbell in two episodes during the nineties.

Cast: Dawn French, Emma Chambers, Trevor Peacock, Gary Waldhorn, James Fleet.

IMDB Rating: 8/10

11. Prime Suspect (1991 – 2006)

Britain doesn’t half love its police procedurals. Prime Suspect is another series that feels like it has always been around on British TV. The Lynda La Plante (Widows) drama starred Helen Mirren as Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison, one of the first females to achieve such a title. Capaldi appeared in season three for a two-parter, playing Vera Reynolds. This was in the early nineties, long before Capaldi had secured his place in British TV royalty, but is another rare one to look out for.

Cast: Helen Mirren, John Benfield, Richard Hawley, Tom Bell, Jack Ellis.

IMDB Rating: 8.1/10

10. Getting On (2009 – 2012)

Getting On was a British sitcom set on a geriatric hospital ward. The series was created by Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine, and Joanna Scanlan, who all star in the leading roles. Capaldi played series regular Peter Healy, but more importantly, he directed all of the first two seasons. The thespian has dipped his toe into the directing waters once or twice before, but this remains his greatest achievement behind the camera. The series was so popular that it was even remade in the US.

Cast: Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine, Joanna Scanlan, Ricky Grover, Peter Capaldi.

IMDB Rating: 8.1/10

9. The Crow Road (1996)

The BBC Scotland miniseries that adapted Iain Banks’s novel of the same name was critically adored on its initial release but again seems to have become forgotten over the years. An impressive adaptation starring Joseph McFadden, Bill Paterson (Fleabag), and of course Peter Capaldi that seems to be getting its due on IMDb. Capaldi played the missing Uncle Rory McHoan in this four-part drama The Crow Road.

Cast: Joseph McFadden, Bill Paterson, Valerie Edmond, Dougray Scott, David Robb.

IMDB Rating: 8.2/10

8. Skins (2007 – 2013)

Skins is renowned for discovering breakout talents such as Nicholas Hoult, Dev Patel, Daniel Kaluuya, and Kaya Scodelario, but it also starred some more experienced British actors too. Capaldi made a few appearances in the first season’s run, playing Mark Jenkins, Sid’s no-nonsense father. This will have been around the time that Capaldi started to gain some traction from his work on The Thick of It, leading to this recurring role. He seemed close to becoming typecast for his ruthless nature but always seemed to veer towards more challenging roles.

Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Hannah Murray, Larissa Wilson, Joe Dempsie, Mike Bailey.

IMDB Rating: 8.2/10

7. Shadow of the Noose (1989)

Legal drama from the BBC, Shadow of the Noose, delved into the career of Victorian-era London barrister Sir Edward Marshall Hall, played by Jonathan Hyde (Titanic). Another entry with few votes, this series appeared to impress those that managed to catch it and remember this late eighties series. Capaldi was in “The Camden Town Murder” installment as Robert Wood. Another eighties performance where the young thespian was finding his feet and slowly building his filmography.

Cast: Jonathan Hyde, Michael Feast, Leslee Udwin, Terry Taplin, Trevor Ray.

IMDB Rating: 8.4/10

6. Foyle’s War (2002 – 2015)

ITV’s World War 2 detective drama comes from Anthony Horowitz (creator of Midsomer Murders). The series focused on a detective, who solved crimes that mainly focused on criminals taking full advantage of the circumstances surrounding the war. Capaldi appeared in the episode “A War of Nerves” as Raymond Carter. This small role came just before Capaldi rose to fame as Malcolm Tucker, showcasing an exceptional actor who at the time was stuck playing the circuit of British dramas. Foyle’s War was a huge success though, praised for its engaging plots, it won numerous awards during its run.

Cast: Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Howell, Julian Ovenden, Peter Capaldi.

IMDB Rating: 8.6/10

5. Poirot (1989 – 2013)

ITV cannot get enough of Peter Capaldi, the man who has made a living from the studio, playing bit parts in their long-running dramas. Capaldi was honored to play Claude Langton in the 1991 episode “Wasps’ Nest”, which was in the early days of the series Poirot. The British mystery drama followed the detective work of the legendary Agatha Christie character Hercule Poirot. The series and the novels have gone on to inspire many filmmakers including Rian Johnson, who has paid homage to this very same whodunit style in his Knives Out movies.

Cast: David Suchet, Hugh Fraser, Philip Jackson, Pauline Moran, Zoe Wanamaker.

IMDB Rating: 8.6/10

4. Doctor Who (2008 – 2017)

In what can only be described as inspired casting, Peter Capaldi became the twelfth Doctor in the Doctor Who franchise. He played the role for three seasons from 2014 to 2017, although he did appear in an episode all the way back in 2008 as Caecilius in “The Fires of Pompeii” when David Tennant was the current Doctor. Capaldi’s performance as the Doctor was critically acclaimed and deeply loved by fans of all ages, harking back to the more classic style of Doctor. This iconic role gave him the chance to reach a wider audience and show off his many talents as an outstanding actor. This may be the role that he is best remembered for, but there are still a few more to look at before we get to the number one spot.

Cast: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Samuel Anderson, Zawe Ashton, Michael Smiley.

IMDB Rating: 8.6/10

3. Mr. Wakefield’s Crusade (1992)

This three-part drama series from the BBC, Mr. Wakefield’s Crusade, may seem like an obscure show to reach the top three, but it has a special place in voters’ hearts, garnering a high score all these years later. You can actually judge for yourself, with the whole miniseries now available to enjoy on YouTube for free. Peter Capaldi stars as Luke Wakefield, a self-proclaimed failure, who tries to solve a murder case whilst he struggles mentally with his own demons. This may have been Capaldi’s first leading role and he uses the opportunity to show off his acting prowess. A hidden gem that can be watched for free in its entirety right now.

Cast: Peter Capaldi, Richard Griffiths, Pam Ferris, Michael Maloney, James Grout.

IMDB Rating: 8.7/10

2. Peep Show (2003 – 2015)

Easily one of my favorite comedy series of all time, Peep Show followed the hilarious shenanigans of the socially awkward Mark Corrigan (David Mitchell) and his liability of a roommate, Jeremy Usbourne (Robert Webb). The show was co-created by Jesse Armstrong (Succession), who also wrote on The Thick of It. This seems like the most obvious transition for the actor, from Capaldi’s guest spot on Peep Show to his breakout role in The Thick of It. On Peep Show, he played snobbish professor Alistair MacLeish and again found a chance to try out his comedic sensibilities.

Cast: David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Olivia Colman, Matt King, Paterson Joseph.

IMDB Rating: 8.7/10

1. The Thick of It (2005 – 2012)

Peter Capaldi is most recognizable for his stunning performance as Malcolm Tucker in the scarily accurate political comedy series The Thick of It. The show devised by Armando Iannucci (Veep) explored the devious antics of modern-day politicians as they bumbled through their scandalous careers. Malcolm Tucker’s role was to make sure these buffoons were doing their job properly or he was on hand to cover up their awful mistakes. He is remembered for his aggressive nature and foul-mouthed poetic spiels that will literally leave you in tears. It’s the role of a lifetime that Capaldi perfectly executed – a well-deserved winner.

Cast: Peter Capaldi, Chris Addison, Chris Langham, James Smith, Joanna Scanlan.

IMDB Rating: 8.7/10

And that’s it, folks, the Top 20 Best TV Shows starring Peter Capaldi! 

Is there any series on this list that you disagree with? Comment below.

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