Steven Moffat Promises ‘Some Real Belters’ For Whovians
Now, with only seven chapters left in his Doctor Who story, the retiring showrunner talks childhood influences, future plans, and why the Doctor will never meet Sherlock Holmes.
A lifelong fan of the BBC program, Moffat took over for Russell T. Davies in 2009, introducing Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. Six seasons of complex plot arcs and shock-and-awe reveals later; he is satisfied with his run.
“I’ve been in this job so long, I’ve done everything I can think of. Twice, probably,” Moffat told Paul Verhoeven in an episode of The Doctor Is In.
Growing up on Star Trek and Star Wars and other sci-fi classics, the Scotsman credits Doctor Who as one of his greatest creative influences.
“Even when I was too frightened to watch it, I was fascinated by it,” he said of the long-running drama.
The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, and UK low fantasy novel Tom’s Midnight Garden—”I’ve been ripping [that] off consistently for decades now”—also helped shape a young Moffat, who claims it was magic, not science fiction, that especially entranced him as a kid.
Barely two when William Hartnell’s First Doctor debuted on BBC in 1963, Moffat’s first solo Doctor Who work—a short story called “Continuity Errors”—was published in 1996. Three years later, he scripted the parody Doctor Who and the Curse of the Fatal Death for Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day charity telethon.
In 2004, he was tapped to write for the revival of the classic program, penning award-winning scripts “The Empty Child,” “The Doctor Dances,” “The Girl in the Fireplace,” and, of course, “Blink.”
So fully ensconced in the Whoniverse, Moffat must know how old the show’s titular character actually is (at last count, he’s in his 2,000s).
“I believe it is impossible for the Doctor who know what age he really is,” the exec producer told Verhoeven. “You and I, we can check the calendar. The Doctor can’t know that. He’s been living in a time machine; the calendar tells him nothing.”
That doesn’t stop the Time Lord for bragging about how good he looks for his age. But, as Moffat pointed out, is he talking about Gallifreyan years or Earth years? (A good point, though there is no clear indication of the conversion rate.)
“I think he makes up an age that sounds cool,” Moffat said, adding that “you can never really take entirely seriously anything the Doctor says; I don’t think he’s really in the business of telling the truth about anything.”
A trait many have noticed in Moffat’s other famous entity, Sherlock.
Just don’t expect the two personalities to meet any time soon: Beyond the complicated logistics of a crossover event, it’s just not plausible for the Doctor and Sherlock to cross paths.
“I think Doctor Who would roll all over the other shows and their sense of reality,” Moffat explained. “Beyond the great moment where they walk toward each other, what do you have?”
A lot of headstrong characters and confusing introductions, that’s what.
“You don’t need two intolerant geniuses running around a place,” he said, adding the disappointing truth that “the idea of those crossovers would always be much more exciting than the reality.”
Soon free of both massive franchises, Moffat plans to attend the 2018 San Diego Comic Con, then “bugger off on holiday for a while,” said the man who hasn’t had a weekend off since 2009.
In January 2016, Moffat announced his retirement from the BBC series; in February he confirmed plans to also give up his writing gig, allowing incoming chief Chris Chibnall space to breathe.
“What I’ll take away,” he told Verhoeven, “are a lot of very good friends and some absolutely amazing memories. And the shows we made.
“I’ll be happy about that for the rest of my life.”