Doctor Who: Steven Moffat On The Fiftieth

From 2013 – Before the New Doctor Who was named, show runner Steven Moffat sat down with us at SDCC to chat about the Doctor’s first 50 years and what he was planning.

Tony Tellado: Have you been keeping up with, I’m sure you have with all of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary activities like the Tardis at Heathrow ?

Steven Moffat:  Yes. I got sent pictures of it by Jenna. Actually I haven’t seen it myself. When she was taking off from Heathrow she sent me the picture. That’s really exciting.

Tony Tellado: What about the Prince Of Wales visiting the set ?

Steven Moffat:  That was cool

Tony Tellado: Is he a Doctor Who fan.

Steven Moffat: He knows his stuff. We’ve had hints before that the Royal Family are quite keen on Doctor Who and indeed Sherlock.They were just so nice.That was the funny thing,just really nice.I had never met them before. Just a nice couple that came around.

Tony Tellado: What can you tell us about the 50th Anniversary Special ?

Steven Moffat: Nothing.. (We all laugh) It’s the weird thing because we actually haven’t finished it.The post production on Doctor Who is epic. It’s not like most shows.There’s a keen amount of effects.We haven’t gotten any of the big shots in it yet.I think it’s really good and I think that  David (Tennant) and Matt (Smith) are very special together. I think that’s going to be a real treat.

Tony Tellado: What impressions do you get of the Doctor, his personality changes based on how plays him….Such a rich history.

Steven Moffat:  And indeed in the 50th you get to see him played by John Hurt as well.Well yeah. He’s always the Doctor.He just gets a different face now and then.It’s an odd thing at script level,the Doctor is very consistent.If you look at the scripts for Chris (Eccleston) , for David and for Matt, you wouldn’t notice that much difference.It’s the way those three very different men play the part.But the you know, if you go into a different body or a different suite you behave a different way. Go into a different body, image what that does to you.He’s consistent, The Doctor, surprisingly so I’d say.

How far in advance did you know that you wanted to include Tennant and Rose because there seemed to be little hints dropped throughout.

Steven Moffat: We don’t really have the option that we had when it was the tenth anniversary because you know, three of them are dead.Even if you could magically get them all there, it could be meaningless to have eleven people playing a part.I knew the story we should do and I think it’s the right choice of story.You’ll have to wait and see. I can’t say much more than that.

Is there any tibit of a surprise that we might see ?

Steven Moffat:  There are a number of surprises in the special.But they wouldn’t be that if I gave them away at this point.I know that sounds mean of me but what would you rather have ? The bangs and the flashes or some middle aged Scot droning at you.You’d be better off. Wait and see. To answer your question more fully, I know David socially.So a while back I told him about the 50th and asked if he was going to come back.He said absolutely. He’d want to be there.

This past season you have incorporated various Doctors through special effects in several episodes. When did you decide what to do about the 50th anninversary special ?

Steven Moffat: All these decisions..I’m just being reticent on everything. All these decisions are dictated by the story.We’ll have every kind of clip show going that’s possible before it comes to the 50th. But that special is not going to be a clip show.You’re not going to be short of Doctor Who.An old Doctor, the new Doctor..when it comes to that day.I don’t want to turn that also into a clip show.I quite liked In ‘The Name Of The Doctor’ Before you expected us to do it, we did it.You saw them all.You saw Jenna meet the first doctor.There are limits as to what we can do.You can say “You can re-create them through special effects?” Do you have any idea how much money that would cost.And if that were possible then the first priority is to pooch Sean Connery into “Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. I’d have to wait in line for that. The other thing is the footage we’ve got which was killing us slightly in ‘The Name Of The Doctor’ of the old Doctors isn’t good enough.There’s hardly any resolution. We’re trying to do this in HD and we have William Hartnell shot with something we would regard as a shoebox camera.It’s ridiculous.So there’s a huge limit as to what we can do.

Picture shows MATT SMITH as the Eleventh Doctor in the 50th Anniversary Special – The Day of the Doctor

Knowing how Tennant left and now that Matt is leaving. Does that alter how you write at all ?

Steven Moffat: That’s a good question. It makes you strip The Doctor back to what he fundamentally is.Then you write, I don’t want to say a basic or generic , a fundamental, pure Doctor.Then let the actor start to run it.With Matt, those scripts were David’s scripts and they kind of were.And I thought quite clear and we’ll do the same with the next  Doctor, that actor has to come in and sort it out for themselves.And then we’ll slowly follow them.if you imagine being The Doctor, a ridiculous idea.One minute he’s David Tennant the next minute he’s Matt Smith.Not everything is going to re-arrange immediately.The first few stories Matt is quite David but then slowly by the end of that series he’s become completely different.That I think is the honest way to write and the only way do is to make it the star vehicle for  that actor.It was David Tennant’s star vehicle then it stops and then it’s Matt Smiths.It will then become the next Doctor’s star vehicle.When I was doing the first year of Matt, I remember I got a hold of a script from Tom Baker’s first season.Very good, very very good script for that season.We could just give this to Matt. It’s not any different.

How far along are you on the Christmas Special ?

Steven Moffat: Page twenty two.That’s specific for you (Laughs) . I’m unnerved by the fact that it’s only page twenty two.We’re filming in September.Oh God !

My Note: I asked him about the search process for the new Doctor. Now of course we know but his answer was interesting….

Steven Moffat: Helen Mirren said that a woman should play The Doctor. I think it’s time that a man played the Queen..(We all laugh)

Tony Tellado: Do you have a wish list ?

Steven Moffat: No. I think you have to feel who is right. Matt was as different from what we were going to get.So having done it before, I have no theories about it unless someone blows you away.Casting is easy.

You’re open to gender, race…

Steven Moffat: I’m open to everything. Yeah. But it has to be properly open. I don’t have an agenda in any direction at all.It’s just whomever is going to be great.

(Congratulations Peter Capaldi)

What about William Hartnell’s Doctor to be played by David Bradley ?

Steven Moffat: He’s an astonishing look alike for William Hartnell.

Tony Tellado: Looks like you cast well for Sherlock too. Those boys are doing pretty good.

Steven Moffat: Yes. Casting is genuinely easy.You have to sit in a room with people. It’s not hard to spot that Benedict and Martin can act.

And Jenna came through too.

Steven Moffat: She’s going to be a star. What is difficult about this ? You sit in a room with lots and lots of performers and notice that one of them is brilliant.How difficult is that ?

Special Thanks To BBC America


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