EXCLUSIVE: Kill List and Sightseers director will direct the first two episodes in the new series of Doctor Who.

Ben Wheatley will direct the first two episodes of BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who.

The director, known for his unsettling, macabre and darkly-comic style in films such as Sightseers and Kill List, confirmed the news to ScreenDaily.

Wheatley will direct the episodes for series eight through December and into the new year for transmission in autumn 2014.

It will see the filmmaker direct Peter Capaldi, the Thick of It star who was confirmed in August to take the role from outgoing Matt Smith.

“I am very excited and honoured to be asked to direct the first two episodes of the new series of Doctor Who. I’ve been a fan since childhood (Tom Baker is my Doctor if you are asking),” Wheatley told ScreenDaily.

“I’ve been watching the current run of Doctor who with my son and have discovered it all over again. The work that has been done is amazing. I’m really looking forward to working with Peter Capaldi and finding out where Steven Moffat is planning to take the new Doctor.”

Cult following

One of the UK’s most distinctive film voices with a large cult following, Wheatley’s attachment will likely excite fans of the director and the classic British series.

Wheatley’s features include acclaimed horror Kill List, about two hit men who become embroiled in a nightmarish cult. His debut feature was comedy crime drama Down Terrace in 2009 and he directed Alice Lowe and Steve Oram in dark comedy Sightseers, which won top awards at the BIFAs and Sitges.

His most recent film was psychedelic English civil-war drama A Field in England, which was the first UK film to be released simultaneously in cinemas, on DVD, free TV and VoD.

In taking on the challenge, he becomes the most established film director to tackle the Time Lord.

However, Wheatley will need to curb some of the darker instincts on display in his features, given that Doctor Who airs pre-watershed on BBC and has a legion of younger fans.

The director’s previous TV credits include BBC comedy series Ideal, starring Johnny Vegas, and BBC sketch show The Wrong Door.

Future projects

In recent months, Wheatley has also been courted by US networks with original drama Silk Road in development for HBO.

The director is known to have a passion for the sci-fi genre and has been in development for some time on his first US feature Freakshift, about a band of misfits who hunt down and kill nocturnal monsters.

After his work on Doctor Who, Wheatley is due to direct a feature adaption of JG Ballard’s dystopian novel High Rise for Oscar-winning producer Jeremy Thomas.

50th anniversary

Last week it was revealed that nine episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960s - previously thought lost - have been found at a TV station in Nigeria.

The sci-fi series is carried in more than 50 territories, including BBC America in the US.

It celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and a special episode will be broadcast simultaneously in more than 70 countries.

The Day of the Doctor, which will star the current Doctor Matt Smith and his predecessor David Tennant, will also be shown in more than 200 UK cinemas.

So far TV networks in 75 countries have agreed to air the show on Nov 23.