News was released tonight (22nd January 2016) via the Radio Times website that Steven Moffat will be stepping down as showrunner of Doctor Who after writing and executive producing Series 10. This series will début in Spring 2017, with just a Christmas special shown in 2016. Further, Series 10 will comprise 12 episodes, but nothing was mentioned of a 2017 Christmas special.
That could fall under the purview of the new showrunner, announced as being Chris Chibnall. The BBC’s official Doctor Who twitter feed confirmed Chibnall, best known among the British TV watching public for the detective drama Broadchurch, starring David Tennant and Olivia Coleman, will take over from Series 11 .
Chris Chibnall is known to fans of Doctor Who though for a number of episodes in recent years. He wrote 42 for David Tennant’s 10th Doctor in Series 3 and four episodes for Matt Smith, The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood (Series 5), Dinosaurs On A Spaceship and The Power of Three for Series 7. He has yet to write for the 12th Doctor.
He has also written for the expanded universe too, with eight episodes from the first two series of Torchwood, including Cyberwoman and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. His further TV credits include the football drama United and episodes for another BBC time travel series, Life On Mars.
Nothing was said about whether Peter Capaldi is expected to return as the Doctor for Series 11, though he has previously committed to Series 10.
Series 9 of the relaunched Doctor Who saw the second full season of Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor and Clara adventuring across time and space. Given the critical acclaim but mixed reactions to Series 8, all eyes were on Series 9 to establish the new direction of the show.
After a couple of years where episodes were mostly self-contained, Series 9 took the bold move of having mostly two-parters, with only episodes nine and ten being classed as stand-alone (and even then, episode ten led into the series finale). This format appears to have been a success, allowing for stronger storytelling and character development over a longer time.
The stand-out performance of the series award must go to Peter Capaldi. Having established a spiky and sarcastic personality for his incarnation in Series 8, this time he gives us a Doctor who has mellowed slightly. He still does not suffer fools, gladly or otherwise, but now he wears the hoodie seen in Last Christmas more often, plays an electric guitar whilst alone in the TARDIS and can even instigate a hug, in moderation. Some have said that in Series 8 he was playing the Doctor, while in Series 9 he was being the Doctor, but I would argue that the Doctor we see from The Magician’s Apprentice onwards is a man more at peace with himself and Capaldi’s portrayal is reflecting this as he has settled comfortably into the role.
He is also given the interesting challenge of a one-handed episode in Heaven Sent, the first half of the finale. Here the Doctor is alone after the events of Face the Raven, having been transported to a mysterious fortification surrounded by sea and haunted by a creature from his own past in the silent Veil. Handled by a lesser actor this could have just been the Doctor talking to himself for almost an hour, but Capaldi puts in a superb performance here in this unusual setting and rises to the challenge with aplomb.
Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald had been through two major storylines in Series 7 and 8 respectively (The Impossible Girl and the Danny Pink romance) so the focus shifted away slightly from her this time, and more onto the relationship between the Doctor and Clara. We saw a more reckless Clara in Series 9, taking chances in the firm knowledge that the Doctor would always find a way to save her. On a couple of occasions he mentions having a “duty of care” towards her but she still rushed headlong into trouble, until it finally caught up with her in Trap Street on 21st century Earth, when she took on the death sentence imposed on old friend Rigsy (Jovian Wade) and the Doctor was unable to save her. Well, until he returned to Gallifrey and broke the rules in Hell Bent anyway.
Of the many guest stars with major roles in Series 9 the one that made the most impact was Maisie Williams as Viking girl Ashildr. Making her debut in the fifth episode as the titular Girl Who Died, she was made immortal by the Doctor in an effort to save her life. The following story, The Woman Who Lived, showed the Time Lord and his TV audience the consequences of his actions, with Ashildr having become hardened and bitter during her 800+ years of life. In that time she had seen everyone around her die, including her children, which brought forth the resolution never to have any more. At the end of that story she had recovered some of her feelings and pledged herself to look after the people that the Doctor left behind. Which is exactly what she was doing when they next crossed paths in the 21st century, looking after and protecting a community of aliens stuck on Earth in Face the Raven. But now she had a secret and her betrayal of the Doctor had the knock-on effect of causing the death of Clara in the process. Their final meeting, in Hell Bent, happened after the Doctor had used Time Lord technology to save Clara. They met at the very end of the universe, as two ancient beings watching the end of everything. Then, after the Doctor’s memory of Clara was erased, Ashildr was seen heading off with Clara aboard a stolen TARDIS, heading for who-knew-where.
Throughout this ongoing story, each new encounter with Ashildr showed her slightly changed by the intervening time, more grown as a character and a person. That this worked so well is down to Maisie Williams as an actress, investing each meeting with a step up in maturity until you could almost believe that these tales had been filmed quite some time apart, rather than in reasonably close proximity, time-wise. Such range in a young actress is hard to find and impressive to see played out on screen.
There were other significant guest performances throughout the series. The opening two-parter, The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar, saw a number of returning friends and enemies, including Michelle Gomez as Missy (the female incarnation of the Master), Jemma Redgrave as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (who would return again later in the series), Julian Bleach’s Davros, and his Daleks.
Again we get a delightfully dangerous and batty, in equal measure, tour-de-force from Michelle as Missy. She puts a great amount of energy into her portrayal and just when you think you know what to expect from the character, she turns things on a sixpence and that makes for an entertaining unpredictability. It was especially fascinating this time to see her paired with Jenna’s Clara for the majority of the two episodes. Their relationship added a certain spark to the storyline, giving it a neat counterpoint to the Doctor/Davros scenes of the second episode.
Speaking of which, much kudos should be given to Julian Bleach for providing us with an understated and universe-weary Davros, not the ranting maniac from the past but a man worn down by time and expectation from his ‘children’. That he makes the audience feel sorry for the evil creator of the Daleks is the true power of his amazing performance. He bounces well off Capaldi’s Doctor in their segments together and gives depth to the character of Davros, a depth that hints that it might be possible for the Doctor to finally have a hand in his redemption. That it was (mostly) a trap for the Doctor adds an extra layer of cunning and manipulation that comes almost as a shock after what has already passed between them. Bravo!
The casting of a deaf actress, Sophie Stone as Cass in Under the Lake/Before the Flood, could be seen as a stunt but it is weaved neatly into the storyline of the episodes in such a way as to make it a significant part of the tale. In the scene where Cass is stalked by the ‘ghost’ of Moran in Before the Flood, it is the vibration of the axe dragging behind him that tips her off to the danger, as she cannot hear the sound of it. Also the fact that Lunn (Zaqi Ismail), Cass’ translator, isn’t allowed into the shuttle and therefore doesn’t receive the message that is central to the story becomes pivotal. Cass is also shown to be a strong leader of the group when she takes over after the death of Moran in the first couple of minutes.
As mentioned above, Jemma Redgrave returns as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, along with UNIT, for a more substantial part in the story The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion. This picks up the threads left dangling after the 50th anniversary tale The Day of the Doctor by giving details of the peace deal hammered out between UNIT and the Zygons at the end of that story. Ingrid Oliver also returns as Osgood, despite us having seen her ‘death’ at the hands of Missy in the Series 8 finale, Death in Heaven. This it turns out was one of a pair of Osgoods, one human, one Zygon, who had been established by the Doctor during the negotiations as the guardians of the peace. Keeping the uncertainty of whether the Osgood who survived is the human or Zygon is a neat twist and fits neatly into the story concept of it not mattering who belongs to which species, that their actions determine who they are. Both Jemma and Ingrid give their usual superb turns as their respective characters and hopefully we shall see them again in future stories.
The Zygon two-parter also gave Jenna Coleman an opportunity to stretch her acting muscles in an unusual direction as she plays Zygon duplicate Bonnie for most of the story. Bonnie is a cold and precise creature and Jenna gives her a chilling edge through most of the second episode, after she is revealed in the approach to the cliff-hanger. The interactions between Bonnie and Clara are also very well played in their intensity.
Looking at the writer’s for Series 9 it is a mixture of the experienced (Steven Moffat obviously, Mark Gatiss, Toby Whithouse), more recent conscripts (Peter Harness, Jamie Mathieson) and those completely new to Who (Sarah Dolland, Catherine Tregenna). Of these probably the most impressive is Harness with the Zygon two-parter, after his innovative Series 8 debut episode Kill The Moon. With speculation increasing about Moffat’s replacement when he does decide to step down, Peter Harness must surely be putting his case forward with these much appreciated episodes, with the fans at least. Worthy of mention also are Dolland and Tregenna, the first two female writers employed on Doctor Who by Moffat, both of whom turned in interesting and thoughtful scripts.
On the whole, despite the drop in the ratings experienced across the whole twelve episodes, Series 9 has been a critical triumph. Even the episodes that might not have been so well received, such as Sleep No More, have been bold and experimental in their telling. Also, some new ideas worked better than others. Capaldi looks very natural with an electric guitar, which featured in about half the episodes of the series. Less successful with fans were the sonic shades, which was possibly why right at the end of Hell Bent we got a new sonic screwdriver. But the positives bode well for Series 10, to which both Moffat and Capaldi are committed, though a filming schedule has yet to be confirmed and it appears currently that at least part of it will stretch into 2017. A new companion has also to be announced and that will attract much interest and speculation from the fans and the media.
So, the future (and the past and present) look bright for the Doctor Who with a spiky but mellowing 12th Doctor out in the universe. Long may he pilot the TARDIS into new and challenging adventures!
Over the last couple of weeks, the media circus for the launch of Series Eight of Doctor Who has gathered apace, as August 23rd looms. Such has been the level of coverage, it would be quicker for TIMD to report what’s not been reported, but in brief…..
Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and Steven Moffat have been jet-setting around the globe on their promotional world tour. Here’s Peter and Jenna in Seoul.
Following the leak of the Series Eight premiere, Deep Breath in unfinished workprint form, episodes two and three (Into the Dalek and Robot of Sherwood) then leaked to file sharing sites in the same form in rapid succession in the last week. There is talk on forums that episodes four, five, and six have also now been leaked.
We’ve already talked a little about the danger of leaks, after the scripts of the first five episodes recently found their way into the public domain, but, people, just wait. These episodes are unfinished and watermarked. They have unfinished effects, gaps, and they’re in black and white! Much as we abhor a vacuum, Doctor Who starts again on Saturday!
Some of TIMD’s friends have seen Deep Breath already at the Cardiff screening. We’re envious, but from what we hear, what’s coming will be well worth the wait.
It’s been revealed that the new titles for Series Eight are based on an excellent fan-made effort by Billy Hanshaw. Speaking at the New York screening of Deep Breath, Steven Moffat said: “Hanshaw created this title sequence, put it up on YouTube. I happened across it, and it was the only new title idea I’d seen since 1963. We got in touch with him, and said, ‘OK, we’re going to do that one.’”
The credits also feature a new arrangement of the theme tune by Murray Gold. Billy will receive a credit for his concept in the new series closing credits. You can see Billy’s original below.
The BBC have announced the full titles, plus writing and directing credits for the whole of Series Eight. Interestingly, Steven Moffat has a number of co-writing credits this year, perhaps as a transparency measure by the BBC.
Moffat’s predecessor Russell T. Davies frequently wrote the final draft of other writers’ scripts, but only took credit for this on the 2009 specials. Whether this means Moffat has rewritten other scripts uncredited in the past is unknown, but it’s an interesting new policy. Here are the titles:
Episode 1: Deep Breath
Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Episode 2: Into The Dalek
Written by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Episode 3: Robot Of Sherwood
Written by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Paul Murphy
Episode 4: Listen
Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Douglas Mackinnon
Episode 5: Time Heist
Written by Stephen Thompson and Steven Moffat
Directed by Douglas Mackinnon
Episode 6: The Caretaker
Written by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat
Directed by Paul Murphy
Episode 7: Kill The Moon
Written by Peter Harness
Directed by Paul Wilmshurst
Episode 8: Mummy On The Orient Express
Written by Jamie Mathieson
Directed by Paul Wilmshurst
Episode 9: Flatline
Written by Jamie Mathieson
Directed by Douglas Mackinnon
Episode 10: In The Forest Of The Night
Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Directed by Sheree Folkson
Episode 11/12 Dark Water/Death In Heaven
Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay
As July ends and August begins, the publicity campaign for Series Eight continues in earnest, with a variety of interviews and in-depth features published in The Sunday Times, Empire, SFX, and Entertainment Weekly over the last week. Here are some choice cuts from the above, which are all available now.
On the show’s direction:
Steven Moffat: “It was time to change. Certain things we were doing a little reflexively. Some of the humour was getting a bit glib. One of the hardest things to notice is when your new idea has become your old idea and it’s time to get rid of it.” (Empire)
Peter Capaldi: “We still blow a lot of shit up. That’s very important, but it’s going to be a bit different from what we’ve seen over recent years. A bit more gravity. Some situations are a bit more sombre and I think there are more rooted dramatic scenes…. we have another level of drama, another tone. And the scenes are longer.” (Sunday Times)
Jenna Coleman: “It’s amazing how different it feels. It’s darker. The limits feel like they’re being pushed more in terms of the danger and the dread. It’s scarier, that’s for sure. A producer once told me this is the hardest job because you’re creating characters and telling stories while always on the run. But Steven’s changed the format quite a lot. We have much longer scenes now.” (Empire)
Ben Wheatley: “For me, they’re back to classic Who, or the mid-Tennant adventures, where you’d tell a story and move on to the next one, less tied up in the final machinations of long plot arcs.” (Empire)
On the New Doctor:
Capaldi: “He’s more alien than we’ve seen him in a while, and he is less patient with the foibles of human beings. Somewhere in the regenerative process, human beings have lost their charm for him. But they begin to work their magic eventually.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“It can become a kind of franchise where it’s not a real character at all but just an amalgam of elements that people think are Doctor Who: a scarf, a bow tie… I wanted to be the actual Doctor Who. (Empire)
Wheatley: “Capaldi’s his own man but there are elements of Baker and Troughton and Pertwee. He’s inherently funny but inherently brooding and complicated, as a performer and a man.” (Empire)
Mark Gatiss: “I’ve seen quite a bit of him and he’s absolutely fantastic. Peter’s just got this amazing, fierce, funny, slightly alarming quality to him – he reminds me a lot of Alastair Sim, actually. You’re not quite sure where you stand with him; he’s very funny, but he’s got this glint in his eye and I think it’s a terrific run of episodes.”
“The brilliant thing about Doctor Who is that it’s always changing like the central character – not just the face of the actor, but the direction of the show. David and Matt were both wonderful, but both were very human Doctors and I think it’s time to remind people that the Doctor isn’t always like that. He’s that sort of Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee and even Christopher Eccleston style actually: it’s someone who’s not immediately going to be your best friend and can be quite abrupt and rude.” (Islington Herald)
Capaldi:“I wouldn’t have thought it would be me – because of my age. I would have thought they were automatically heading younger. I’m technically too young for the part, because he’s over 2,000 years old.” (Entertainment Weekly)
Moffat: “I did say, ‘No, we probably won’t end up with another quirky young man. I didn’t think there was any space around Matt to have another Doctor of that kind, because he sort of sums up what you could do with that. I very very quickly, very quickly just thought about Peter. There is no right age to be the Doctor.” (Entertainment Weekly)
On Clara’s relationship with the Twelfth Doctor:
Coleman: “With Matt’s Doctor [Clara] felt quite safe, really, she knew she’d be caught if she was in danger, but this guy is a lot less human-friendly and a lot less patient. He’s more removed and inaccessible. You can’t quite access him in the same way.” (Empire)
Capaldi:“There’ll be no flirting, that’s for sure. It’s not what this Doctor’s concerned with. It’s quite a fun relationship, but no, I did call and say, ‘I want no Papa-Nicole mo–ments.’ I think there was a bit of tension with that at first, but I was absolutely adamant.” (Sunday Times)
On Clara, and Danny Pink:
Coleman: “It’s like seeing a control freak out of control. She has a boyfriend and she’s a schoolteacher and then she travels around the universe with The Doctor. She’s trying to live those lives separately and not let them collide.” (Entertainment Weekly)
Brian Minchin: “He’s (Danny) a teacher at the same school as Clara. Clara decides she’s not going to leave her life behind to go travel in time and space. She’s starting a relationship with Danny so she’s going to keep both lives going at once.” (Entertainment Weekly)
On Capaldi’s costume:
Moffat: “He wanted to be quite stark, stark and skinny. A stick-insect sort of thing. Clara actually calls him a grey-haired stick-insect at one point. We had some hilarious pictures of Peter just dressing up. It was all coming from him because he’s really into his clothes. I didn’t feel qualified to go and chat too much about it. Certainly the costume didn’t go anywhere until I shut up. The thing I’ve learned about showrunning is you need to know the bits you’re bad at!
“I’ve got certain things that I’ll say – I don’t want anything in that costume that I have to write into the script. I don’t want people saying ‘But why are you dressed as a circus clown?’ I want him to walk into a pub, a restaurant, a space conference, an army base and nobody stares at him.
“There was an issue simply because it’s quite dark as a costume and it’s a show that largely takes place in a tunnel. I kept saying ‘We are going to be able to see him, aren’t we?’ I suppose the red lining helps, when the flaps are open.
“I think there’s always something a little bit formal about the Doctor. Oddly enough in this series, for whatever reason, he seems to be wearing different outfits far more often than the Doctor normally does. He’s got his basic outfit but he’s in a spacesuit in one of them, and he’s a caretaker in another one and then he’s all dressed up in a later episode. He does vary it a bit. And he mixes up the basic costume, hugely. We’ve tended to see the white shirt version in public but actually the one I like best is when he wears the jumper under his coat. I think he looks like a submarine commander, like an old sailor or something. It makes him all rugged and handsome!” (SFX)
Jenna Coleman on Series Eight guest stars:
“She’s great. She’s playing this naughty but nice, really sexy villain who kind of kills you but with a sweet smile.”
“She’s really cool, I know her personally as well. I don’t actually know how much I can say about it but it’s a very clever way in which she is brought in and—what can I say?—there’s music!”
“He is a huge, huge, huge Doctor Who fan. We’d do scenes between me and Peter and then you’d often just see Frank basically soaking it all up and just really really enjoying being on the TARDIS and the whole experience. It was funny to have a proper, proper fan who really does know everything about Doctor Who folklore.” (Entertainment Weekly)
Capaldi’s monster wish list:
Capaldi: “Axons appeared as these kind of god-like creatures, but underneath they were festering bags of flesh. I’d love to see a modern version of that. I’d also like to see—this is really one for geeks—the return of the Mondasian Cybermen. They came from the planet Mondas and first appeared in The Tenth Planet. They were absolutely terrifying, with cloth faces. That was really creepy.” (Entertainment Weekly)
Moffat:“I always thought the Axons had a natural resemblance to a BAFTA. “We’re not bringing those [The original Cybermen] back, because they look like boys with sweaters pulled over their heads. But Peter and I are not having a fight about which Cybermen are better.” (Entertainment Weekly)
On rumours of the return of The Master:
Moffat: “There’s always that rumour. It didn’t come from us.” (Entertainment Weekly)
It’s been a long wait since it was announced that Peter Capaldi would take over the role of the Doctor last fall. Though we still have MONTHS to go before Series 8 starts up, here’s a little something to pass the time.
Peter Capaldi is featured on the cover of the latest issue of Radio Times, which is out now. Not only that, but Steven Moffat gives an interview and talks about Day Of The Doctor and what he looks for in a new Doctor.
“When you choose a Doctor, you want somebody who is utterly compelling, attractive in a very odd way. None of the Doctors are conventionally attractive, but they’re all arresting. Handsome men don’t quite suit. Matt Smith’s a young, good-looking bloke from one angle but is actually the strangest looking man from another. You need that oddity…”
Acknowledgements: Thanks to the Radio Times and Doctorwho.net