'Doctor Who': Steven Moffat talks the next Doctor and 50th Anniversary special
Of course he's not telling.
But Moffat did tease a few things during a roundtable discussion in the BBC America press room at San Diego's Comic-Con International. Moffat touched on both of those topics, the idea of bringing back David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler for the Anniversary special and the unique challenge of writing for the Doctor during a transitional period in his timeline.
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What can you tell us about the special?
Steven Moffat: "Not a thing! It's that weird thing of we haven't actually finished it. The post-production on 'Doctor Who' is epic. It's not like most shows. There's gonna be a trailer [during the Comic-Con panel] but we haven't got any of our big shots in it yet. I think [the Anniversary] is really good and I think David and Matt are very special together. I think that's gonna be a real treat."
How far in advance did you know you wanted the 50th to include Ten and Rose?
"We don't really have the option they had when it was the tenth anniversary because three of [the former Doctors] are dead. Even if you could magically get them all somehow, it'd 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. And I knew what I'd need to put in place for that but you'll have to wait and see. I can't say much more than that."
Even though you can't include all the Doctors in the 50th, you were able to use and reference them throughout the past season. Was that part of the plan for an anniversary season?
"All these decisions are dictated by the story. We'll have every kind of clip show going that's possible when it comes to the 50th. So the 50th Anniversary show itself is not gonna be a clip show. You're not gonna be short of 'Doctor Who' -- old 'Doctor Who' and new 'Doctor Who' -- when it comes to that day.
"I quite liked in [the season finale] '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 to what we can do. People always say, 'You can recreate them with special effects.' Do you have any idea how much money that would cost? And obviously the first priority of business if that were possible is to put Sean Connery into 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service.' So I'd have to wait in line. The other thing is the footage we've got of the old Doctors -- which was killing us slightly in 'The Name of the Doctor' -- isn't good enough. We're trying to do this in HD and you've got William Hartnell filmed in something we would regard as a shoebox camera. It's ridiculous. So there's a huge limit on what we can do."
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Does the period of transition from one Doctor to the next change the way you write at all?
"It makes you strip the Doctor back to what he fundamentally is and then you write a very -- I don't want to say basic or generic -- fundamental pure Doctor, then let the actor start to run it. In the beginning with Matt everyone said, 'These scripts are just David's scripts!' and they kind of were. But I felt quite clearly -- and we'll do the same with the next Doctor -- that actor has to come in and sort it out for themselves and we'll slowly follow them.
"If you could imagine being the Doctor -- what a ridiculous idea! -- one minute he's David Tennant, the next he's Matt Smith. Not everything is gonna rearrange immediately. So the first few stories, Matt is quite David-y and then slowly by the end of that [season] he's become completely different. I think that's the honest way to write it. The only way you can do what you to do with Doctor Who is to make it the star vehicle for that actor. It was David Tennant's star vehicle. Then it stops being that and becomes Matt Smith's star vehicle, and it will become the next Doctor's star vehicle. But the Doctor himself -- when I was doing the first year of Matt, I remember I got hold of the script book for Tom Baker's first season. Very good script for that season. I remember thinking, 'We could just give this to Matt! It's the same, it's not any different.' Of course, that's the genius of Robert Holmes."
How far along are you in getting the Christmas special planned out?
"Page 22. [laughs] I'm unnerved by the fact it's only page 22, we're filming it in September. Oh god!"
How's the search for the next Doctor going?
"It's barely begun. We've got a fair amount of time and it's fairly exhaustive. It's quite good to let the furor die down a bit. Then we can operate with some reasonable degree of privacy. For the first three weeks every day the newspaper will be speculating it's gonna be Barack Obama as the Doctor or something. [laughs]"
Do you have a wishlist for the part?
"No. I think you have to see and feel who it is right now. Matt was as different from what I thought we were gonna get as possible. I now know having done it once before not to have any theories about it. Just to go in and let someone blow you away."
You're open to any gender, race, whatever?
"I'm open to anything. It has to be properly open. I don't have an agenda in any direction at all, it's just whoever is gonna be great."