The Doctor is in again at BBC America. DOCTOR WHO, which ran on the BBC from 1963 through 1989 and was revived in 2005 by Russell T. Davies, is in the ninth season of its current version on BBC America on Saturdays at 9 PM. This is the second season for Scottish actor Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, a helpful Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who travels through space and time in his TARDIS and regenerates into a new body (played by a new actor) whenever he’s mortally wounded.
This is the fifth season for Steven Moffat as DOCTOR WHO’s executive producer/show runner; previously, he was a writer on the series. Moffat is also known for creating, with Mark Gatiss, the Benedict Cumberbatch/Martin Freeman series SHERLOCK (Assignment X will have a separate interview with Moffat regarding SHERLOCK closer to the airing of this year’s Christmas special on PBS). For now, Moffat is ready to discuss issues old and new regarding WHO.
ASSIGNMENT X: Are there things you can do with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor that you couldn’t have done with the other Doctors, story-wise or character-wise?
STEVEN MOFFAT: I don’t think that’s ever true of any of the Doctors. I think all the Doctors can do all the stuff. Certainly, any time I’ve been [working] on the show, every single one of those actors is top of the league. I mean, they’re amazing. So I actually don’t think that. I think it always feels that way, because they’re so good that they own whatever they do. Come on, those guys are amazing. They’re all extraordinary. So you could do anything with them.
AX: You’ve talked in the past about how incorporating Alex Kingston’s time-traveling adventurer Dr. River Song was sort of testing out what it would be like to have a female Doctor. This season and last, you’ve had Missy, played by Michelle Gomez, who is the latest regeneration of the Master, the Doctor’s adversarial fellow Time Lord who until now has been played by men. Do you think that audiences are ready for a woman playing the Doctor? Obviously, we’re still a few years off from a new regeneration, but …
MOFFAT: Oh, I hope we’re a long way off. Is the audience ready? It’s an odd question. You always say, “A woman playing the Doctor.” No one ever says, “A man playing the Doctor.” Most men would be rubbish as the Doctor. [laughs] There are very, very few people who can do that part. I think it is necessary to expand what the show can do all the time, because that’s why it’s alive. So I’m not making it inevitable and I’m not preventing it, I’m just saying it’s possible.
The key thing about changing the Master to Missy was that the Doctor doesn’t react to it at all. He just carries on talking. He’s shocked that she’s there, but he doesn’t say anything about the fact that she’s a woman. So clearly, that’s a very big statement. That’s just a thing that happens. In my head, rationally, it seems to me, you know human beings are never completely male or female, we’re all mostly a woman or mostly a man. Maybe a male Time Lord is someone who, most of his regenerations are male, maybe he’ll have a couple of female ones. The science fiction of that would make sense to me. Otherwise, I think life would be a little bit complicated on Gallifrey – or would it? I don’t think they care. Certainly with Missy, writing Missy, you start to think, “She doesn’t care. She’s not like us.” They don’t appear to have much enthusiasm for all those [romantic] activities anyway [laughs], so I don’t think it matters.
AX: What would be the necessary qualities?
MOFFAT: Sheer carved out of solid star and someone who you can’t take your eyes off. Not because they’re beautiful – usually, they’re not quite beautiful – just somebody whose face is so fascinating. I mean, Capaldi can’t sit there, can he, without you looking at his frowny face. He’s not even frowning – that’s just his face.
AX: How have the audiences responded to a woman Master?
MOFFAT: Very, very positively to Missy. Nobody knows [how the audience would respond to a female Doctor]. That’s the truth. It is not an impossibility to have a lady Doctor; it is not a lock, either. There is no guarantee. I wish sometimes that the politics of that would take a backseat and we’d just talk about the art, because it’s not really about that, it’s just about, would it work? And the day it will work is when somebody says, “That person would be amazing.” And the most conservative, most traditional member of the audience says, “Oh, God, yes. I hate the idea of a lady Doctor, but that one would be great.” That’s what you want.
AX: We know you don’t give spoilers, but can you talk in the broadest of terms about the upcoming season?
MOFFAT: This is I would say one of the lighter ones. I’d say, because I thought it went last year rather well, the main story is the emotional one. Clara [the Doctor’s current Companion, played by Jenna Coleman] has now decided that the Tardis is her real life and that’s what she does and she loves running around in the Tardis with the Doctor and getting into scrapes, the more dangerous, the better. She’s becoming too like him.
AX: And the Doctor doesn’t want to cut ties to keep her safe …?
MOFFAT: Well, I think the problem with the Doctor is, he’s not very good at cutting ties. Actually, Russell did it too and I’ve done it [in the writing] – he gets a lot out of [the Companions]. I always think he’s actually, underneath it all, and I mean this in the non-sexual way, the one who’s more in love. He’s more in love than they are. When Amy [played by Karen Gillan] left him, it was more devastating for the Doctor than it was for Amy. She went and had a life. Same with Rose [played by Billie Piper], really. I quite like that aspect of the show. When Amy and Rory [Amy’s husband, played by Arthur Darvill] leave, they keep leaving, and he just keeps going back [to them], because they’re his friends, and that seems to me real. That’s what you do. You don’t tell people, “Your friendship is terminated.” Sometimes you start avoiding them, but that’s another thing.
AX: We know from Clara’s journeys with the previous Doctor that she’s really a splintered fragment of the original Clara, even though she’s living her own full life. How aware is she, if at all, of her being a splinter?
MOFFAT: She’ll have dreams about it. We’ve discussed that. It’s one of those things that, if I put it in an episode, most of the audience will have forgotten that and gone, “What the hell are you talking about?” But in my mind, she has dreams. She has a sort of a vague awareness that there was other stuff, but not very clear at all.
AX: But even though this is a different incarnation of the Doctor than the one who was there when the splintering occurred, he’s completely aware of that?
MOFFAT: He’s aware of that she splintered once? Yeah, he remembers everything. I mean, each new Doctor isn’t a new Doctor at all. It’s the same person and they just walk around in a new body. We all do that in life, we just do it somewhat more slowly. No, he’s exactly the same person.
AX: It’s been announced that Maisie Williams is doing two episodes of DOCTOR WHO this season. Given the fact that there’s probably a lot of viewer crossover between GAME OF THRONES, where she plays Arya Stark, and DOCTOR WHO, Is that a challenge or a gift when you’re bringing her on to play a very different character?
MOFFAT: I think it’s straightforwardly good. I think there was a time in television history when we used to worry about things like that, and that’s when people were mad. These people are hugely associated with a much-loved show and it’s good to have them in your show, because the audience is clever. They know she’s playing somebody else, they don’t get confused. I would say she’s very different [on DOCTOR WHO], but I can’t really say much about it. I’m really excited by that character and by what Maisie gets to do in the show, but it’ll take you a moment or two as you watch it to realize what we’re up to. So we’ll see. It’s a great character.
AX: To ask a DOCTOR WHO procedural question, do you feel like there’s only so often per season you can use a Dalek, arguably the Doctor’s most recognizable foe?
MOFFAT: I would tend to think you use them once, would be my general rule of thumb, but you know, if we’ve done a great Dalek story and somebody had a great idea for another Dalek story, no one’s going to argue. There isn’t some law. We don’t even have to have them at all. We didn’t have them in Series Six at all, really – one guest appearance. The kids in Britain still bloody love Daleks. There’s no question what the most popular DOCTOR WHO monster is, and I know some people sometimes say, “Oh, it’s boring that you always have Daleks.” I have a suspicion it’s the same people who always say of the James Bond films, “He shouldn’t have gadgets.” Yes, he bloody should. And there should be Daleks in DOCTOR WHO, because they’re cool. This show is made by a very, very infantile man, I’m sorry.
AX: We love Daleks.
MOFFAT: I love Daleks. I’ve got one.
AX: And how often, if ever, can you show the Doctor’s once-destroyed, now-resurrected and hidden home planet Gallifrey?
MOFFAT: We’ve seen it in the old show. Actually, we’ve seen it a little bit, we saw it in “The End of Time.” I think we can do anything. You can do anything. You’re allowed. You’ve just got to do it well. I mean, I think not doing something because it seems terribly difficult would be wrong. That’s not to be giving you any kind of hint, but no, you can – I always think [the issue] with the Doctor going back to Gallifrey is, if you know your history of DOCTOR WHO, “Oh, I’ve found Gallifrey. God, it’s dull, I’m going to run away.” [laughs] It’s just a place he ran from, because he was bored. His nostalgia is overwhelming.
AX: How long do you anticipate holding onto DOCTOR WHO as show runner and executive producer?
MOFFAT: Hold onto it? [laughs] I don’t have the ability to. It’s a great gig. I take it a year at a time and I always ask the guys at the BBC, “Do you want me to go?” So far they haven’t, but it wouldn’t be exceptional if one day they said, “Let’s get someone else in.” That’s fair enough. But so far, we’re all very happy. I take it a year at a time. It will not be forever. The vital thing for me is, when that day comes, is making absolutely certain there’s a really good transfer, so that the show does not suffer. That’s the thing.
AX: Is there any science fiction you’ve seen lately that’s impressed you?
MOFFAT: I really liked the film INTERSTELLAR; I thought that was great. I saw it only quite recently on DVD. I thought it was terrific. I generally speaking like science fiction, obviously, because that’s the kind of thing I watch.
AX: Do you keep track of stuff going on in real interstellar science, like the mountains on Pluto and so on, and think, “Oh, maybe we can do something with that on the show”?
MOFFAT: I mostly don’t, and that’s probably remiss of me, frankly, but my son is very much into that sort of thing, and I tell him, “If there’s ever anything you think I could use …” Just in order to communicate better with my older son, because he’s sixteen and thinks I’m an idiot [laughs], I started reading up about quantum physics so I could try and understand it so I could talk to him. Ah, the things a dad does.
This interview was conducted during BBC America’s portion of the Television Critics Association summer press tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
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Click on link: AX’s exclusive interview with DOCTOR WHO showrunner Steven Moffat – Part 1
Click on link: AX’s exclusive interview with DOCTOR WHO showrunner Steven Moffat – Part 2
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Interview with DOCTOR WHO showrunner Steven Moffat on Season 9