An already successful writer due to previous work such as Coupling, Steven Moffat won a Hugo award for his two-part adventure ‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances’ for the first series of the BBC Wales Doctor Who revival. He went on to become something of a fan favorite in Doctor Who as viewers looked forward to his contributions each series. The Girl in the Fireplace, Blink and Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead also went on to earn raves from critics and fans alike.
Outside of Who, Moffat developed Jeckyll and a modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes with fellow Doctor Who writer Mark Gattis. Today he is the man in executive producer and head writer for Doctor Who, now entering its eighth year on TV since it returned in 2005. Moffat introduced Matt Smith as the latest Doctor, a bold move at a time when fans had associated the program with David Tennant and were threatening online to ditch the series without their favorite actor on the screen.
Since his taking over Doctor Who, the program has exploded into new-found acclaim and healthy rating figures. While I crowed the excellence of his first year, I have found a substantial decline in the quality of the writing in the series for his second. With the focus moving away from the Doctor and more attention directed to the characters created by Moffat; time-tossed rake River Song and newlyweds Amy and Rory Pond, I started to worry that the program was losing interest in the lead.
The new series will be the most daring (and riskiest) yet. The Doctor will stand alone against a universe of troubles and continue what could be the longest reign as the Doctor since Tennant’s three 1/2 year run (personally I count it as four, but most fans seem to think that the specials do not count as a series). Could Smith be the most popular Doctor yet? Could this year erase the errors of the last?
- For his third outing, Moffat will not only say farewell to the Ponds, but also introduce a new companion.
- The latest series will also open with the most ambitious Dalek story to date, rumored to be titled The Ruins of Skaro, which boasts the return of every Dalek design on screen.
- The seventh series will have a much larger episode count.
- Despite his decision to shy away from classic monsters, not only will the Daleks be back, but other classic monsters may also return such as the Yeti and Ice Warriors.
- The seventh series will also culminate in a 50th anniversary special, something that has not been attempted since 1983 or 1993 (if you have a strong stomach).
Below is an excerpt for the interview centering on Doctor Who details.
Moving on to Doctor Who – how was it bidding farewell to Karen Gillan (Amy) and Arthur Darvill (Rory)?
“Oh, it’s incredibly sad. The thing you can forget about this is, while the audience are losing people that they see for a few months per year, Karen and Arthur are walking out of something that they’ve been involved with every day for years. It’s not just a professional change, it is a personal upheaval.
“I’m trying not to say it’s like being dumped, but a huge part of your life changes. I think of Karen and Arthur, and from Matt [Smith]’s point of view – people that you saw every single day and have become absolutely part of your de facto family are now gone, never ever to be in that place in your life again.
“So it’s a huge upheaval – it’s personal and it’s human. People should not underestimate how upsetting it is for everybody involved in it. I don’t mean ‘upsetting’ in the sense that it’s a tragedy – it’s not a tragedy! But it’s a huge bloody change – it’s someone moving out of your house, that’s how big it is.”
There are going to be five Doctor Who episodes in the autumn, then a Christmas special, then eight more in 2013 – what was the thinking behind that structure?
“I don’t know, on this occasion, that the thinking particularly came from me, actually. I’ve always been open to anything that shakes [the series] up. I think that decision actually came from the BBC.
“But I’ve been well up for anything that we can do to shake up the transmission pattern, the way we deliver it to the audience and how long we make the audience wait, simply because that makesDoctor Who an event piece.
“The more Doctor Who becomes a perennial, the faster it starts to die. You’ve got to shake it up, you’ve got to keep people on edge and wondering when it will come back.
“Sherlock is the prime example, as far as that goes. Sherlock almost exists on starving its audience. By the time it came back this year, Sherlock was like a rock star re-entering the building!
“So keeping Doctor Who as an event, and never making people feel, ‘Oh, it’s lovely, reliable oldDoctor Who – it’ll be on about this time, at that time of year’. Once you start to do that, just slowly, it becomes like any much-loved ornament in your house – ultimately invisible. And I don’t want that to ever be the case.”There’s been a lot of secrecy surrounding the new companion – when can we expect to learn who Jenna-Louise Coleman is playing?
“Christmas! But don’t expect to learn everything! We’ve got a good story and there are some proper legitimate surprises in it. I’m excited by it. I think we’re going to do some fun stuff.”
Are you hoping to conceal the companion’s identity until the Christmas special actually airs?
“We can’t really contain everything, because people will crawl all over us with cameras and sneak views of scripts and call-sheets. Something will get out. But we’ve been fairly sly, so let’s wait and see.
“Again, a lot of the audience that I talk to specifically avoid any spoilers and I’m absolutely certain they have a better experience of the show. As I’ve always said, if I could make it on the dark side of the moon, I would, but you can’t do these things.
“i got pilloried by somebody at some deep level of naivety about the industry – they were angry that I’d revealed the fact that Amy and Rory were even going to leave! But y’know, actor’s agents really do have to advertise their client’s availability – I had no choice but to announce they were going to leave. But in an ideal world, you wouldn’t even do that.”
And are plans for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who under way too?
“Yes, they are. I had a meeting about that earlier in the week!”