Archive for the ‘Steven Moffat’ Category

Steven Moffat & David Tennant (2009)

October 1, 2010

Here’s a transcript of David Tennant interviewing Steven Moffat for ‘Doctor Who Confidential’:

Tennant: So, Steven Moffat, television writer of some repute, where did you grow up?

Moffat: I grew up in Paisley.

Tennant: Just down the road from myself.

Moffat: That’s right.

Tennant: So growing up in Paisley, how remote did television feel to you?

Moffat: Well it was more Hollywood than Hollywood. I mean, this place (BBC Television Centre) is more exciting to me, to this day.

Tennant: You grew up watching Doctor Who. What was your era?

Moffat: I remember Patrick Troughton being bewilderingly the Doctor, and being confused by that, and really from the start of Jon Pertwee I was watching every single episode devotedly.

Tennant: This is Studio 8. In this very studio, TC8, we had ‘The Sea Devils’ was in here, ‘Planet of the Spiders’ was in here.

Moffat: Jon Pertwee turned into Tom Baker somewhere in this room.

Tennant: Well, quite a few studios were used for ‘Planet of the Spiders’, but let’s just say he did.

Moffat: All those events happened in this very big, dull grey room. I don’t know about you, but I got interested in background stuff, how television was made, because of ‘Doctor Who’.

Tennant: Yeah.

Moffat: It wasn’t really background information about television I was researching, it was ‘How do they make Doctor Who?’.

Tennant: Here’s another studio, TC7. I think all the studios in Television Centre have been used at some point by ‘Doctor Who’. This is currently being used by ‘Newsnight’, but we’re going to invade. ‘Robot’ was filmed in here, this is where Tom Baker began. In fact, this might be the very studio where – I remember, very famously, there was a scene-shifters’ strike, wasn’t there, and ‘Blue Peter’ transmitted from the set.

Moffat: That’s right. I remember my Dad shouted ‘Doctor Who’s on’, I thought ‘That’s amazing, it’s Wednesday’ or whatever day it was, and I went running down and discovered it was just ‘Blue Peter’ and burst into tears.

Tennant: Oh.

Moffat: Sorry, ‘Blue Peter’, it just doesn’t measure up to ‘Doctor Who’.

Tennant: So what was it about ‘Doctor Who’ in particular that fired your little infant imagination?

Moffat: It was a children’s programme, it was also frightening, there was no other show like this. It works you hard as a writer, but I think if you’re prepared to work hard, it helps you.

Tennant: Russell (T. Davies) says that. He says it’s the hardest thing to write. Why is that?

Moffat: ‘Doctor Who’, you’ve got two minutes – if that – of the Doctor and companion in the TARDIS, they walk out the door and it’s a new world of some kind or other, a whole bunch of people you have to introduce and dispose of in one episode. It needs a big, strong idea every week. I think you know you’ve got a good idea for a ‘Doctor Who’ episode if you think ‘Well, I’ve just blown that feature film idea forever, haven’t I?’, that’s the size of story that gets you through forty-five minutes of ‘Doctor Who’.

Steven Moffat (2010)

June 25, 2010

I’ve lost track of whether any of the information in these quotes contains spoilers, so caution is advised. These come from various sources, and are all related to series 5, or 6, or the 2010 Christmas Special, or other current stuff:

On becoming the showrunner

I was boarding a plane when it happened: Russell sent me an e-mail as I was about to fly to Athens for a meeting about the incredibly short-lived Greek version of my comedy Coupling. I found out subsequently that heavy hints had been dropped twice before about me taking over the show, but I’d been too slow and too hungover to pick up on them.

On series five

Doctor Who is an incredibly difficult programme to make. Since the first day of filming, when the tide came in early and chased us off the beach, we’ve been in a state of crisis. Now, a television crisis isn’t a real crisis but it’s still enough to stop you thinking about these weird, metaphysical things, like the show’s importance in terms of so-called 3GTV (three-generation television, appealing to children, parents and grandparents] or how it’s down to me and Simon Cowell to keep the fabric of society together.

On The Big Bang

The universe has ended, mate, he’s dead. The Doctor is in the Pandorica, there’s this little voice saying: ‘Hello, that was a big bang wasn’t it? Oh, something happened out there?

On the 2010 Christmas Special

There will be a Christmas special – well, a flashback Christmas special – but no, we won’t be telling you anything, not a single thing. It’s too early.

On series six

(It’ll be) similar (to seriees 5) in the sense that it’s an arc that doesn’t get in the way too much.

On Russell T. Davies returning

He said ‘Don’t even ask me for series five because I’m just knackered, I just want to go lie down’, and I think I’ll find out how that feels. But I did ask him for series six, and I always will.

He’s pretty adamant that he’s not going to (come back). I’m in constant touch with him. He did an awful lot of ‘Doctor Who’ for an awful lot of years, and I think he’s finding it in a way hard, because in effect he’s done a ‘Doctor Who’ story for ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’. So I think he probably wants to get away from it for a bit. I can understand that, because he did a hell of a lot. It would be just joyous to get him back, becaus I miss him.

On his writing

Russell reckons it’s all about parenthood with me. It’s his view that every writer has one story that they go on re-telling and that being a father is mine.

Steven Moffat (2010)

June 7, 2010

I always transcribe interviews for this blog – that’s the whole point – but this time I’m just going to link to a video, because you really need to see it in context. It’s Steven Moffat, being interviewed by his son. Mild spoilers involved.

Steven Moffat (2010)

March 22, 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!

Steven Moffat (various)

February 19, 2010

This is a real mix of different Steven Moffat quotes, pulled together to give some kind of indication of how he might steer the show over the next few years. Sources include DWF, various press interviews, a couple of magazine pieces and probably others I’ve forgotten.

Casting Matt Smith

It’s the first day of the auditions, we’ve only been at it for an hour – and sitting in front of us, fully formed and unmistakable, is the Elevent Doctor. Every detail is absolutely right – boffin and action hero, schoolboy and professor, hot young guy and ancient wizard. He’s like Patrick Moore in the body of an underwear model. It’ll be two weeks before I admit it to myself, but really I know it already. We all know it. This man is the Doctor.

Piers and I go straight for a drink and try to stop shaking. It’s not supposed to happen – not on the first day! There’s a lot of contradictions, I think, in the part of the Doctor. He’s very, very old, but he looks young. He behaves very childishly, but he also behaves in a very sort of magisterial way. I think you need somebody who is old and young at the same time. That means if you cast someone in their fifties, that’s fine, but they’ve got to have something very, very youthful about them, like Jon Pertwee did. Although he was an older man, there was something quite young about him.

One thing I was very emphatic about, and I remember being quite sort of brutal and argumentative in a meeting with the Beeb about this, was saying ‘There are too many young people on this list’, and ‘I’m not really convinced there’s all that many people that young who can play this part’. I thought we were looking for someone in their forties, late thirties, you know? David’s a unique case – he could play it at that age. But no, I was saying he should be an older man. Of course, I’ve just ended up casting a 26-year-old in the part!

On the supposed ‘no old monstes’ rule

I think there should be more new stuff than old stuff in ‘Doctor Who’. You sit down to plan the series and think ‘I’m bringing back something every single story’, what’s the use? You might was well call this ‘Doctor Who 2’. It’d be a sequel and ‘Doctor Who’ shouldn’t be a sequel. Ev ery year, there are new 8-year-olds watching it and those new 8-year-olds saw it at the most important age because they’re going to live a lot longer than the rest of you. I want them to have their monsters, so that in forty years’ time they can grump to their children, ‘Oh, it’s not as good as it used to be’. You’re not getting lost in nostalgia. You’re creating nostalgia.

Is Doctor Who a children’s show?

Calling ‘Doctor Who’ a children’s show isn’t a definition of the audience, it’s a definition of the show. In style, pace, tone, sensibility, ‘Doctor Who’ stories are children’s stories. Like Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Hobbit, Narnia, Toy Story, The Incredibles, and all gorgeous magical stuff. Does that mean it’s not for adults? Don’t be daft, adults love children’s stories – just look at that list. Some of the most famous creations in human history! People who grow out of children’s stories are people who never understood them in the first place.

His thoughts on Doctor Who in the 80’s

I rather liked season 18, though found it a bit dry and uninvolving, and thought Tom was a bit off. Adored the next three seasons, and thought (and think) Davison was superb. Colin Baker’s two seasons, and Sylvester’s first – well, I’m afraid I found very little to enjoy there, though honestly I tried! Colin is a good actor, and he’s been good in many things, but I didn’t think he landed the role of the Doctor. On telly, anyway – he’s been good on audio. And no, the costume and the scripts weren’t helping. Really enjoyed the last two seasons of ‘Doctor Who’, though – some plunges from grace, but some cracking stuff too. You’ll never quite convince me that Sylvester is an appropriate choice for a BBC1 leading man, but clever people like Paul Cornell think otherwise so what do I know? Preferred him to Colin and (ooh, the heresy!) William Hartnell, so that’s gotta count for something.

Doctor Who fans

Most fans are delighted with just about all of ‘Doctor Who’. Really, they are. But mixed in with that are some insanely vocal ones who go on about how they hated it every single week. Which raises the question, ‘Why are you f***ing watching it then?’. If ‘Rise of the Cybermen’ had been shown in the 80’s (or the 70’s, or the 60’s), we’d all have fainted of joy on the spot. All of us! Some of us had to go to school the Monday after the Giant Rat (in Talons of Weng-Chiang)!! No, really! Thank about that! Added ten years to my virginity, that did, Giant Rat Monday! Oh, I haven’t forgotten! (But) I want Robert Holmes brought back to life just so I can tell him he’s a genuis, ’cause I don’t think he knew.

Steven Moffat (2009)

December 16, 2009

Here’s Steven Moffat talking to the BBC about his initial work on Doctor Who and his experiences (so far) on the upcoming season five starring Matt Smith.  The nature of this blog tends to preclude spoilers, but this interview has ONE VERY BIG SPOILER which you should probably avoid if you want to go into the new series ‘fresh’. There are also some indications of the direction that the next season will take, so I’ll say it again: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Q: Doctor Who was once a secret obsession for die-hards, a love that dare not speak its name. Now it’s a national obsession, with 11 or 12 million viewers per episode. Is there any margin for error in this job?

A: I’d worry if I said I worried about that too much, because I was a die-hard and because I loved it for all those years that fools didn’t. I knew it was brilliant, I knew it would be a success. I never had the slightest doubt when I heard that it was coming back, and that Russell was running it.

Q: But is there any way up from 12 million viewers a week?

A: I don’t know, let’s find out!

Q: At the end of the last series, the Daleks attempted to explode reality itself. The Christmas story is called The End of Time. After that, ideas for the series have to be more local, don’t they? How else do you navigate this sort of narrative hyper-inflation?

A: Well, first of all don’t assume that we’ve faced the biggest threat yet. I believe we do have a good one, which is great. One of the great advantages of Doctor Who is that the menace can at times, and very compellingly, be very very small. In The Empty Child, there was no big enemy and the major fear factor was a little boy looking for his mummy. Doctor Who can be small and domestic, and brilliantly effective.

Q: That’s been the case in many of your episodes so far. You don’t really do the end of the universe, do you?

A: Well I think you have to save the end of the universe for the end of the series. You can’t do it in episode six. There’s a tradition, not just in Doctor Who but in other shows, of building to a big finish, and one of the things you can do is end the universe. But there’s other things you can do. There’s other kinds of story.

Q: But in your stories, people tend to survive. I’m just trying to tease out an idea of how your version of the series might differ from what we’ve got used to in the last five years or so.

A: I think the critical thing about Doctor Who is that when it’s working, when it’s really on form, every story differs from the last one. The basics of the series, a man and his best friend travelling the universe and fighting evil. I realised, after writing six episodes of Russell’s new version, that I hadn’t killed anybody in those six episodes. A remarkable run. I didn’t manage that in Press Gang, I killed loads of people in Press Gang and that was on at 4.45.

Q: So are you saying that we won’t notice any difference in the new series?

A: Well I’ve killed some people in the new series. Not actual people, just fictional people. Killing is ever so frowned upon, especially in the new BBC. You can get into terrible trouble.

Q: For killing them in a graphic way, or…

A: No, no, for killing actual people. It’s almost as bad as an overspend.

Q: So what changes will there be, tonally or philosophically, in your series?

A: That’s hard for me to say. I suppose my view of it has always been more of a dark fairytale. It’s very much a fairytale, Doctor Who. I don’t think that’s a new perception, it’s quite literally a fairytale, it’s a way of telling our children to be wary of the world, that there are dangerous things out there.

Q: Your episodes have been among the more gothic of the new series. They’ve been darker.

A: Well dark is a complex word. Scooby Doo’s dark at times, and Doctor Who’s got some of that Scooby Doo darkness. Russell’s a tremendously dark writer under some of it.

Q: But you’ll have less froth?

A: The scariness is what I like, I suppose, that’s true. I watched The Empty Child recently, because I’m an egotist and I like to watch my own stuff, and there’s a lot of jokes in The Empty Child.

Q: What difference will it make having a younger Doctor?

A: Truthfully, it makes absolutely no difference at all, because the man is 900 plus. William Hartnell was too young for this part, they’re all too young. Matt Smith isn’t playing an especially youthful Doctor, you can’t play him as an ingenue, you can’t play him as a young man. Matt Smith plays the same man you’ve always seen, an adventurer, a scientist, a man who’s been around for hundreds of years, as sometimes you can tell. So no, actually, I don’t think it makes a hell of a lot of difference.

Q: But it sounds like you’re saying it doesn’t make a difference who’s playing the part and who’s in charge?

A: It makes a difference every single week which story you’re telling. I think that’s what keeps Doctor Who fresh. Each week, we aren’t thinking of our house style, or our rules, we’re thinking about the rules for this story, what is the Doctor like in this story? I think it’s so close to an anthology at times, that’s what keeps it alive, that’s what keeps it fresh.

Q: Russell T. Davies said that in the future, Doctor Who is the programme that researchers will look back at when they’re analysing how television works, because it’s the most documented programme in television. Does that affect the way you conduct yourself?

A: Doctor Who secrets don’t even last after the show. Doctor Who Confidential comes on straight after and spends forty-five minutes telling you how the previous forty-five minutes worked. Especially at the start of coming in to the show, when Matt was coming in, every time you opened a door there was a television camera pointed at us. It was a quite extraordinary feeling, and yes, it’s the most extensively documented show of all time.

Q: Can I ask you about the succession? Was there some type of Granita-type deal between you and Russell T. Davies?

A: You mean that I was bound to one day take over? Russell sent me an e-mail about two and a half years ago, asking if I was interested in it, which was the first time it had been aired. We’d never talked about it before.

Q: Doctor Who is an industry now, with Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Mark Thompson has been talking about limiting the commercial expansion of the BBC. Can you sustain this level?

A: It’s not like any of us sit around saying ‘We must have a certain level of peripheral output’. It’s not like ‘Our quota for spin-offs is this’. Russell had a good idea for Torchwood, he made it. He had a good idea for Sarah Jane, he made it.

Q: So you don’t involve yourself in the business of it?

A: Not really, no. I look at everything, to make sure everything is proper and right and Doctor Who-y, but I don’t sit and make business plans. I’m not thinking in terms of commercial exploitation, I’m thinking of what will be a great fat treat for everyone.

Q: Is part of your job the control of information? It’s closely guarded, and it comes out in dribs and drabs, doesn’t it?

A: I don’t think I control the information, I think up to this point I’ve just been stemming it. Something that no-one outside the production team knows right now? The Weeping Angels are coming back.

Steven Moffat (1995)

December 16, 2009

Here’s an infamous Steven Moffat interview from 1995, in which he pretty much slates the vast majority of the original series. Nevertheless, it’s clear that he’s a fan. He does come across as a little… harsh… in this interview, and it should be noted that he’s recently commented on the interview, noting that “I’m vile. Full of myself. Pompous, and dismissing all the writers of the old show as lazy hacks. Dear God, I blush, I cringe, I creep. I walked out of the interview high on my own genius, and wrote Chalk, one of the most loathed and derided sitcoms in the history of the form. The thing about life is, you can always rely on it to administer a good slap when required”…

Q: How many of the New Adventures have you read?

A: I’ve read quite a few, but not so many of them anymore. There’s 24 of them a year. That’s too bloody many. I’ve never wanted 24 new Doctor Who adventures a year. Six was a perfectly good number.

Q: But Doctor Who was on 40 weeks of the year in the Hartnell era.

A: Yes, but did you see the pace of those shows? They were incredibly show. Hideous. I dearly love Doctor Who, but I don’t think my love of it translated into it’s being a tremendously good series. It was a bit crap at times, wasn’t it?

Q: You’ve pointed out in the past that there’s a certain camp value to it sometimes.

A: If you judge it on what they were trying to do, which is create a low budget, light-hearted children’s adventure serial for teatime, it’s bloody amazingly good. If you judge it as a high class drama series, it’s falling a bit short. But that’s not what it was trying to be.

Q: I think Doctor Who in the 60’s was simply of its time.

A: Even for the 60’s, it was slow. If you look at the first episode of Doctor Who, that betrays the lie that it’s just the 60’s, because that first episode’s really good. The rest of it’s shit.

Q: They had months of lead-up time to it. After that, it was weekly.

A: That’s fair enough, but the rest is still bad.

Q: The fans tend to try to compare it to I, Claudius. There’s a certain macho quality to some fans that makes them say it’s up there with Shakespeare.

A: I, Claudius had a brilliant script and a cast of brilliant actors. These are two things we can’t say, in all forgiveness, about some periods of Doctor Who. Much as I love it…

Q: You’re willing to recognise its limitations?

A: Yes. I still think most of the Peter Davison era stands up.

Q: I hated the Davison era.

A: How could you? When I look back at Doctor Who now, I laugh at it fondly. As a television professional, I think ‘How did these guys get a paycheque every week?’. Nothing from the black and white days, with the exception of the pilot episode, should have got out of the building. They should have been clubbing those guys to death. You’ve got an old guy in the lead who can’t remember his lines. You’ve got Patrick Troughton, who was a good actor, but his companions – how did they get their Equity card? They’re unimaginably bad. Once you get to the colour stuff, some of it’s watchable, but it’s laughable. Mostly now, looking back, I’m startled by it. Given that it’s a teatime show, a children’s show, I think most of the Peter Davison stuff is well-constructed, the directors are consistent.

Q: They’re consistently crap.

A: Peter Davison is a better actor than all the other ones. That’s the simple reason why it works better. There’s no complicated reason why Peter Davison carried on working and all the others disappeared into a retirement home. I recently watched a very good Doctor Who story, one I couldn’t really fault. It was Snakedance. Sure, it was cheap, but it was beautifully acted, well-written. There was a scene where Peter Davison has to explain what’s going on. The Doctor always has to. Now, some old actor like Tom Baker would come to a shuddering halt in the middle of the set and stare at the camera, because he can’t bear the idea that someone else is in the show. But Peter Davison is such a good actor, he manages to panic on the screen for a good two minutes, which has you sitting on the edge of your seat because you’re thinking ‘God, this must be really bad’. He’s got the most awful lines to say, but he’s doing it brilliantly. My memory of Doctor Who is based on bad television that I enjoyed at the time.

It could get me really burnt saying this, but Doctor Who is aimed at eleven year olds. Don’t you think it’s fair to say that Doctor Who was a great idea that happened to the wrong people? I think the actual structure, the actual format is as good as anything that’s ever been done. The character of the Doctor, the TARDIS, all that stuff is so good, it can actually stand not being done terribly well. There was some very good stuff spread over the twenty-five years, but that wasn’t enough.

Q: We were having a dinner party when the documentary Resistance is Futile was first shown. Everyone loved it, but as soon as the 60’s episode The Time Meddler came on, people turned away within thirty seconds. Remembrance of the Daleks, when it was first on, we thought it was fast-paced. Now it looks slow and staid.

A: None of this is true. We’ve had an absolute perception of pacing for a very long time. Some of Shakespeare is pretty pacy.

Q: Shakespeare has people standing around on stage spouting for ten minutes at a time.

A: Okay, I agree. Shakespeare is not as good as Doctor Who.

Q: When it comes to Shakespeare, the perception of pace changes with the times.

A: Doctor Who wasn’t limited by the times or the style that were prevalent then. It was limited by the relatively meagre talent of the people who were working on it.

Q: And yet the people who were working on it turned over on a regular basis. Are you saying they were all mediocre?

A: Mostly they were middle of the range hacks who were not going to go on to do much else. Over 26 years, the hitrate is not high enough. There are people who have worked on Doctor Who and gone on to great things, like Douglas Adams. I just think most people thought this was going to be the big moment of their lives, which is a shame. As a television format, Doctor Who equals anything. Unless I chose my episodes very carefully, I couldn’t sit anyone I work with in television down in front of Doctor Who and say ‘Watch this’.

Q: What episode would you show them? I’d go for good old reliable Robert Holmes, a man who knew what drama was. The Talons of Weng Chiang part 1, a very good hack.

A: How could a good hack think that the BBC could make a giant rat? If he’d come to my house, when I was fourteen, and said ‘Can BBC Special Effects do a giant rat?’, I’d have said no. I’d rather see them do something limited than something crap. What I resented was going to school two days later, and my friends knew I watched this show, and they’d say ‘Did you see the giant rat?’, and I’d have to say I thought there was dramatic integrity elsewhere.