Saturday, 5 May 2012

How to run Doctor Who the Steven Moffat way

This month’s Doctor Who Magazine has arrived, with a massed horde of Daleks from the show’s history on the gatefold cover, no review of the DWAITAS regeneration edition yet (someone at C7, make sure they get a box when it arrives!) and a big ol’ seven-page interview with Steven Moffat largely about how time travel and predestination work.

On companions: “They’re all going to be...” A bit mad? “A bit mad, yes. A bit dislocated. Not happy where they are. Are they yearning for outer space? They’re going to be people who feel that they can take on the Doctor, who’s quite an intimidating sort of person. So they’re going to be feisty. They’re going to be all those things.” ... “Also, I think responsibly, he doesn’t want to take someone away from a life that’s ongoing. He’s happy to take them away to be the equivalent of your gap year.”

On how they come in: “I think you need to have a story as to why someone gets on board the TARDIS - and yes, a story as to why they leave.”

On visiting old friends at different times: “Of course he could - but I imagine he must space out his visits to somebody, and at a certain point there is no room for new ones.”

On predestination: “I’ve just done a story about predestination. If you know elements of your future, you know that they’re fixed - but you don’t know how you get there, and you don’t know what you do after that. And you keep throwing in the words ‘time can be rewritten’ for that very reason.”

On free will: “They do have free will. But the future is already the result of what actions they take out of free will. That’s why free will and determinism are not in contradiction. The future is determined by you exercising your free will.”

On the dramatics of how much the Doctor knows, in Let’s Kill Hitler: “I did have a more complex version of it where he actually had figured out all along that their friend was the girl, but he couldn’t do anything about it, because it was already fixed. But it was just boring, so I didn’t do it. It’s much more interesting for him to be surprised.”

Or vice versa: “It absolutely can be dramatic, for people to keep secrets, that people have been knowing things all along. That can be really exciting. It’s a matter of how you find that out!”

On twists: “I think if you’re determined to work out a twist, you should be able to. It should all be there in front of you.”

And likewise, on why the Doctor lies: “He’s always lied, hasn’t he? He doesn’t give his name.” Does he lie because he doesn’t always trust people with the truth? “He doesn’t trust that they can cope with that... ‘I don’t want to put that burden on you’ is a reason to lie to somebody.”

And his name - Doctor Who? “Well, it’s the title of the show!” ... “Everyone knows that’s not his name, so why is it called that?... It basically says h’'s a mysterious stranger, and we should never forget that’s what he is. He’s withholding information and he’s not telling the whole story, and we don’t really know him. If you took all that away from him... I think he loses a lot of his appeal. Do you really want to know his backstory? I don’t think you do.”

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