(CNN) -- Veteran British actor Peter Capaldi is stepping into the blue police box as the 12th Doctor, the eccentric time traveler at the heart of the BBC's "Doctor Who," the network announced Sunday.
Capaldi is the latest in a series of actors to play the universe-saving chrononaut since the series first aired in 1963. He'll replace Matt Smith, who has held the role since 2010, when Smith bows out at Christmas.
In a televised BBC special announcing the pick, Capaldi described himself as a lifelong fan of the 50-year-old show -- "but I haven't really played Dr. Who since I was 9, on the playground."
He said his daughter, also a fan, was reading speculation online about the producers' new pick and "was getting rather upset that they never mentioned me." After auditioning in secret, he said, his agent broke the news in a phone call by answering, "Hello, Doctor."
It's not Capaldi's first trip in the Tardis, as the Doctor's time machine -- which appears from the outside to be a London police phone booth -- is known. Capaldi has appeared in a 2008 episode of the series and in its spinoff "Torchwood."
But the Glasgow native is better known for his portrayal of the foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in the series "The Thick of It" and a 2009 film offshoot, "In the Loop."
He also won an Academy Award in 1995 as the writer and director of the short film "Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life."