Steven Moffat at the Edinburgh Fringe

At the prestigious Assembly Halls on top of the Mound overlooking the city of Edinburgh, previously home to the Scottish Government prior to the completion of the Parliament building, on Wednesday 21st August Doctor Who and Sherlock showrunner Steven Moffat engaged in an hour of conversation with comedian and Who fan Frank Skinner and host Fred MacAuley before taking questions from fans in the audience. While characteristically reticent to speak about the future of the show, the evening was lively and entertaining, and below we present a summary of what was discussed.

On the revelation of Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor –

“Yes, because we kept such a good secret up until that point. What I loved about that was they had so many photos. On the day before they said “We’re going to reveal it tonight and you can’t imagine,” and there were giant photos of Peter Capaldi in Cardinal Richelieu’s beard, and then the next day, the same number of photographs of Peter Capaldi clean shaven. So presumably, to the uninformed, it looked like a story of a man who’s tremendously pleased about having a shave.”

On whether Capaldi was the only name on the shortlist, and his links with fandom –

“On this occasion, yes. That was a very short list. He was the only person. Frank (Skinner) is nothing compared to the Doctor Who fan that Peter Capaldi is. It’s all coming out now and his wife doesn’t know all about all of it. There were fan club wars. He was annoying the production office by writing in, a campaign that has yielded success beyond his dreams. The production secretary on Doctor Who said “Can you get rid of this little boy that keeps writing to us.” Writing annoying letters won’t work anymore.”

On whether Capaldi’s Doctor will have a Scottish accent –

“I would be very surprised if he didn’t.”

On whether Mark Gatiss had ever been considered for the lead role –

“On this occasion I only thought about Peter. I actually did ask Mark who he thought should be the Doctor and the top name on his list was Peter. It was just the right time.

On The Name of the Doctor, John Hurt and the accidental early release in America –

“I promise to give you a full and clear explanation in November. The people who got the Blu-ray, the two hundred and ten complete strangers we accidentally sent the entire revelation to, not one of them actually gave it away. John Hurt gave it away. I don’t know what you do, though, when John Hurt gives it away. You don’t tell off John Hurt. You just say “That’s fine, that’s absolutely fine, John, you go and say all that.” No one seemed to pay any attention to him. I don’t know why. He did give it all away. Bless him. Maybe he received a Blu-ray and finally understood the plot. That’s the way it usually happens for me.”

On fan threats in response to killing favourite characters –

“Threatened? Yes. Oh, my god, yes. Genuine hatred has been directed towards me. I don’t know if it’s particularly because I’ve been killing off characters, because, to be honest, none of my characters stay dead for all that long, it’s generally just because people get ever so cross. I don’t know. Then I see myself in interview and I think, oh, that’s why. You’re a smug, boring shit.”

On Peter Jackson’s expressed desire to direct an episode –

“Well, he’s serious about it. We talked at the premiere of The Hobbit. He just wants a Dalek. Give him a Dalek and then he’ll direct an episode. I have done the thing where I say “You see this amusingly small number? That is our budget? And this even smaller number is our schedule.” So I don’t know how. I think he’d like it to go to New Zealand. I think it’s entirely possible. He’s a major fan.”

On the rumour that J K Rowling may be writing a short story for the 50th anniversary –

“I can’t confirm that right now.”

On whether the more episodic nature of season seven had been at the behest of the BBC to push the show to a global market –

“It was entirely my choice. They don’t ever put any pressure on what we do on Doctor Who, they actually take an extraordinary stand and leave us alone on Doctor Who. We just get on with what we do. It wasn’t anything to do with that, it was just having swung it very far one way, with the sixth series, we should just go the other way and make a lot of standalones. There’s still a sort of serial element. I thought series six was about as far down that complicated arc path I think you could feasibly go, and I thought just because we’d done that we should go the other way, we’ll do something else next year.”

On the next season –

“We’re well into planning series eight. Peter Capaldi is in it.”

On recurring characters and monsters –

“I always think it’s probably true the first anything or anyone appears on Doctor Who is their best story, and Doctor Who is never more Doctor Who than when everything is brand new on it, a new monster and the Doctor doesn’t know what’s going on. When you bring back a monster it’s automatically a sequel, and sequels are never quite as good. On the other hand, it’s part of the ecology of Doctor Who that he encounters the same monsters and that hit monsters and hit characters do come back, so it’s just when you have a good idea for a plot.”

On the possibility of the Doctor’s daughter Jenny returning –

“She can return, and apparently that was my own intervention. I haven’t thought of a great story for her, maybe someone will, maybe I will. The door is open. I didn’t know it was my idea she should survive until I listened to the commentary and Russell said “Steven said I should keep her alive, so I did,” and I thought, “I was just chatting.



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