We’re in the midst of the 50th Anniversary of England’s most famous and popular science fiction show Doctor Who. Who went through a series of ups and downs over that half century, as it went from a long hiatus in the nineties to a sudden revitalization in 2005. Now the British sci-fi series is more popular than ever with a fan base that spans the entire globe. Audiences are eagerly awaiting the premiere for the second half of Season 7, set to launch this March 30th. In anticipation of the debut, we got the chance to speak with Steven Moffat about the Doctor, his new companion, new villains and what we may be seeing during the 50th Anniversary special.
First thing’s first, Moffat addressed the ongoing talk about what fans can expect out of the 50th Anniversary special, slated to come out later this year. While he didn’t reveal too much, he assures us that fans will be happy as we move into the future of Doctor Who.
“We’re here to deliver a very good show, but more of that later. Right now I want to concentrate what we’re going to do on Saturday. We’ve got a whole eight episodes before we have to worry about that. We’ll deliver, I’m pretty confident.”
“You always want to make it special and huge and big and I think also, this is one of the things I’m concerned about here, is that going forward. It’s all about the next 50 years. It’s about moving forward. So The Doctor is moving forward, as he always does, and he wants to solve the mystery of Clara. He’s not thinking of all his previous incarnations or all of his previous adventures, he’s thinking about the future. That for me is important. The show must never feel old. It must always feel brand new and a 50th Anniversary can play against that.”
“You will notice that on the previous episodes, [there was another character with] a significant resemblance to her. Yes. Just between Clara and Oswin (Oswald), there are significant resemblance again that are consistent. This time it may be pointed out in a slightly more obvious way… As you will uncover the mystery of Clara in the next 8 episodes, all will be made clear.”
“You need someone to challenge The Doctor. You need someone to bring The Doctor into a new light, into a new release. Amy had done it in one particular way, and thinking of somebody who was slightly less willing can. The thing about The Doctor, The Doctor is always the remote, inaccessible, mysterious one and the companion is the fluffy, friendly one. Whereas this time Clara is the slightly difficult to get to know. And because the Doctor is haunted by her and has met her twice before, she’s the unsolvable mystery, the enigma and he’s the one chasing after her. So it’s a reversal of the normal Doctor-companion dynamic which I’ve been rather enjoying.”
But what makes a companion so vital to The Doctor? There’s a number of different reasons, and Moffat reveals a couple of them.
“A hero is somebody who saves the day and is somebody extraordinary that you stand back and admire, like The Doctor, but the story needs to have an emotional connection that happened to somebody. The Doctor himself had to happen to somebody. And so very often in Doctor Who, the companion is sort of the main character. Not the hero, but is the person whose story it is, and how this experience change them. We never see The Doctor beginning his journey, we’ll probably never see how he ends it, we’ll probably never know why he embarked on it but we know all those companions, who they were before they met The Doctor and why they ran away with them and we know roughly where they ended up. Those stories are complete. The Doctor is the enigma that entered their lives and changes them. The story is always about the person who changes the most, rather than necessarily about the person who does effects those changes.”
Steven Moffat continues to hold his secrets of each episode close to his chest, but he is happy to talk a little bit about one of the newest episodes for Season 7, “The Bells of St. John.”
“I don’t know, I never really know which ones are going to be scary and so on. I would say that The Bells of St. John is an active roller coaster whereas the Weeping Angels stories and The Silence stories were more conscious in design to be sort of scary images. So I think it’s really not up to me. I think it’s more a chance about what gives them nightmares. So I think they’re quite creepy and I think they’re a rolloping adventure ride.”
No episode of Doctor Who is complete without our main villains. We’ve seen a flurry of different extraterrestrial beings terrorize The Doctor for years on end, and Moffat has created a couple of memorable ones himself. He comments on what are a couple of his favorite creations.
“I would say the Weeping Angels because I’m standing here looking at one because it’s in my backyard… The one I had the most fun with might have been The Silence. I love the gimmick of the fact that you couldn’t remember them. I just started finding ways to employ that, finding ways to make that frightening and I think it.. I think it was a very exciting time. I really do enjoy writing The Silence. The Weeping Angels are by far the most popular, but they are a bugger to write because they don’t move. It’s always really hard to work out how are you going to to do a chase scene with that.”
Ever since the Russell T. Davies and company hit the reboot button on Doctor Who a few years ago, the science fiction series has become even more popular with American audiences than ever. Moffat shares his thoughts on why that’s the case.
“Accessibility in a way. You can start watching Doctor Who at any point in history then catch up with the rest of it. It’s very simple myth as it were. It’s a man who can travel anywhere in time and space inside a box bigger in the inside. That’s as much format as we have. You can join in and absolutely get a hold of it and, dare I say, I think it’s one of the great pieces of television entertainment there’s ever been. That’s why we latch onto this. It’s terrific. It’s simple to understand what it’s about and it’s hugely entertaining and every so often it completely reinvents itself to feel like home in a new era. That’s the key ingredient, always feeling at home in the present day as it always adapts itself.”
And if you’re any sort of up-to-date Whovian, you would know that Steven Moffat has written for the rebooted show since the first season. Moffat looks back on how far he’s gone and the planning process for the show.
“It feels like it wasn’t so long ago that I’ve been involved with this. it’s been a lot time now, about ten years, but I’m starting to forget. It’s very exciting. It is massively beloved, not that I had any doubt that Doctor Who would always will be that. The idea of Doctor Who is always that you couldn’t function on the show unless that was true. It’s a terrible thing to say in a way but I’ve been on the other side of the curtain for quite awhile now, I’m starting to forget that this once was a show that I wasn’t involved in. One day when I’m not involved in it, then I’ll look back and think of that, but right now it feels like I’ve always worked on it.”
“Doctor Who is the most exhaustingly planned show on Earth. We have so little time to make them, and we make them in sort of a couple of weeks really, so everything is planned to the last detail. It’s relatively rare for something to surprise you because you’ve tried to factor in every single thing that could go wrong. I was very pleasantly surprised with how effectively and realistically I think we were able to create a submarine for the episode “Cold War”. I think they did a stunning job on that. It’s really, really convincing you that you’re on board a sub. In every level I thought that was a bit of a design trap. You think they would just do some corridors, but the art department really sold us.”
Doctor Who premieres on Saturday, March 30th at 8 PM EST on BBC America.