Steven Moffat (2010)

There are a lot of interviews around at the moment, plugging the new series – which looks stunning, judging by the trailers. Anyway, I’ve tried to make a kind of ‘Best Of’ series, and the first is Steven Moffat. I’ve not bothered with all the ‘everyone’s great’ stuff that often pads out interviews and press conferences, I’ve gone for the more interesting stuff (imho):

On the Doctor and Amy

You take two attractive people and they will probably be a bit romantic about each other. It is a complex story between Amy and the Doctor – it is not simple. It is not a story you have ever seen between the companion and the Doctor before.

On the Doctor’s love life

The modern Doctor, is he sexualised? He’s aware of them. He loved Rose, but he didn’t seem to be doing anything about it. So I’ve just said, ‘We’re actually making a more definitive statement about this: the Doctor may long, he may notice but he doesn’t do.’

On returning characters and monsters

The more you back-reference, the more it feels like a sequel and the sequel is never as good as the original. But old favourites can return, provided you can do something new and exciting with them. There are no past characters coming back in this series, but I imagine that kids would love to see Captain Jack meet the new Doctor.

Abominable Snowmen loose in the London Underground! That was one of the most bizarre ideas in the history of television. What smoke-filled room did that come from, and what was in the smoke?

The Ice Warriors have yet to make a return.

I don’t think the Nimon is going to make it back. I haven’t got much hope for the Bandrils or the Garm. There are loads of monsters that didn’t work.

On the new series

The funniest thing ever in Doctor Who is Matt Smith trying to contain his enthusiasm in the face of all those vampire girls.

There is an episode in this series that I showed to my 10-year-old son and he said there is one scene that is the scariest thing that has ever happened in Doctor Who.

There is another episode that will make you gasp, then want to press rewind so you can see it all again.

Those scary statues (the Weeping Angels), I should warn you – and your children – are on their way back and they’re way way worse this time.

Soon you’ll see the Doctor grappling with Silurians, an enemy from Jon Pertwee’s time as The Doctor, who have a particular reason for wanting to take over the earth.

On The Eleventh Hour

That was quite a highly pressured script to write. Not so much the new era of Doctor Who as the new Doctor and the new companion. I had to find a way to make that work because it’s an entirely new cast. Any of those things that you call challenges are also rather good fun, to be honest. You become a writer because of those sort of things, don’t you? And you can’t be intimidated or worried by it. It’s hard work. That’s a hard working script. There’s a lot going on in it and you’ve got to make it fun and interesting. But, do you know, I’m not going to complain about that. Here’s a brand new Doctor, a brand new companion, a brand new TARDIS. That’s EXACTLY the job I wanted.

On the 2010 season finale

I question your tactics if you are saying we should promote a Doctor Who season finale with the words ‘Now smaller than ever!’

I hadn’t done a finale (before) – that was a hoot, practically everything happens, and some of it twice.

What is Doctor Who?

Doctor Who isn’t just Hammer Horror or sci-fi. It’s also a little bit The Generation Game, a little bit showbiz. It’s a weird show. It’s half scary Gothic castle, half shiny floorshow. And that’s part of it. Any show can be one or the other, but Doctor Who manages to be both and have a burping wheelie bin and an absolutely heart-breaking scene in the same episode.

I mean, imagine the sheer nonsense of devising a show, one of whose mission statements was to terrorise eight-year-olds! I’m not sure we could pitch it now. But then two things that have a mission statement to terrorise children that I can think of are Doctor Who and Harry Potter and they’re both huge.

Doctor Who literally is a fairytale. It’s not really science fiction. It’s not set in space, it’s set under your bed. It’s at its best when it’s related to you, no matter what planet it’s set on. Every time it cleaves towards that, it’s very strong.

When I started watching it, I never stopped. And clearly I haven’t exactly given up on it now. I just love Doctor Who. I know you’re supposed to discriminate and say, ‘I like this bit better than the other bit.’ But it’s like James Bond films, I just like them all. Shut up about having opinions. It’s great. The most entertaining thing that British television has ever done. Full stop.

Is Doctor Who a children’s show?

Although it is watched by far more adults than children, there’s something fundamental in its DNA that makes it a children’s programme and it makes children of everyone who watches it. If you’re still a grown up by the end of that opening music, you’ve not been paying attention.

On being the showrunner

There is nothing scarier than watching Doctor Who as a child. Scarier than Tomb of the Cybermen or Terror of the Autons? Are you mad? No, those are truly terrifying. Look, I always say it was really scary taking on the job and doing the job. But, really, it’s just exciting. You can waste an awful lot of time being frightened and nervous of things like that. But if you do, you’ll never kiss the girl, will you? It just won’t happen. You cannot worry about things like that. It could all go to disaster but, you know, it won’t. It’ll be great.

I’m not going to get into what I do with scripts, for heaven’s sake. That would be vulgar and wrong. But there’s no-one got a credit on this show for writing it, that didn’t write it. My role is making sure that every script is good and none of the writers are cross with me. We’re all very good friends. Now and then I might take a pass at some element of a script or I might suggest some plot or whatever. But the writer is fully involved at all times. No-one is upset, I promise you – you can ask them. That’s the job. It’s totally collaborative.

On the Doctor Who brand

To me, a ‘brand’ sounds evil, reminiscent of men in tall hats running factories and beating small children, but you have to be across it. All those things should be joyous – those toys should be terrific – because the active creative engagement of children with Doctor Who is unlike any other show that they watch. When Doctor Who is over, they get up, invent their own monster, their own planet, their own Doctor and play. I know because my son recently designed a new Tardis control room. If anyone said to me ‘invent a new monster so we can sell more toys’, I’d kick them out of my office.

On the BBC

I hope the Tories don’t win. Let’s not beat around the bush. (But) I’d hope that anyone who becomes prime minister would look at the organisation and ask themselves if the world would really be better off without it. Are we really going to put James Murdoch in place of (the BBC)? Can you imagine how shit everything would be? Never mind the fine and glorious things that the BBC does, imagine how shit everything would be! Stuff would be shit! Let’s not have really good restaurants, let’s have Kentucky Fried Chicken!

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