It’s the end – and a new be­gin­ning – but the mo­ment has been pre­pared for... Delivering three Doc­tors for Christmas Day, a de­part­ing Steven Mof­fat talks past, present and fu­ture with Nick Setch­field

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After eight years at the helm, the Grand Moff is off. We give him a grilling in the exit in­ter­view.


It’s the clas­sic question asked by any­one step­ping from the blue doors of the TArDIS. As ever with Doc­tor Who, there’s no straight an­swer. Spa­tially we’re in Cardiff: Stu­dio 1 of roath Lock, lo­cated at the far end of rus­sell T Davies Al­ley ( just fol­low the framed pic­tures of Peter Ca­paldi, his hair shorn, his suit sharp, his time as the Doc­tor ahead of him). But we’re also among the mist­shrouded ru­ins of an alien world, where ivy coils over top­pled pil­lars and an un­canny light cuts through the dark.

What’s the source of that spec­tral blue glow? It’s Peter Ca­paldi – con­sid­er­ably wilder of hair and ragged of suit, his time as the Doc­tor al­most done – tap­ping the screen of his phone. Next to him, by some ghostly quirk of the vor­tex, is Wil­liam Hart­nell, run­ning through his lines. No, wait – it’s

Game Of Thrones star David Bradley, con­jur­ing the stern but twin­kling spirit of the orig­i­nal Doc­tor, just as he did in 2013’s docu-drama An Ad­ven­ture In Space And

Time. On the stu­dio mon­i­tor the ef­fect is eer­ily per­sua­sive: the sweep of white hair and bony pro­file al­most con­vince you that time it­self is in flux. A snatch of di­a­logue from 1964 plays in your head. “One day I shall come back…” “What’s after lunch?” asks Bradley. Ca­paldi pock­ets his phone. “Ex­plo­sions.” It’s the end of an era. And it’s just an­other day on Doc­tor Who. Four months later SFX meets Steven Mof­fat in an of­fice suite in Lon­don. “It’s the end of my last press day,” he tells us, man­ag­ing to sound si­mul­ta­ne­ously re­lieved, knack­ered and just a lit­tle melan­choly. “So this may lit­er­ally be my last ever in­ter­view as showrun­ner!”

This year’s Christmas spe­cial “Twice Upon A Time” marks not only Peter Ca­paldi’s de­par­ture from Doc­tor Who but Steven Mof­fat’s, too. He’s ex­it­ing the fourth di­men­sion after eight years at the helm of the series. On his watch he’s cast three Doc­tors and five com­pan­ions, ex­ported the show to the world, un­leashed Weep­ing An­gels and the Si­lence, cracked time it­self, res­ur­rected Gal­lifrey, re­booted the uni­verse, locked Hitler in a cup­board, and in­tro­duced fish fingers and cus­tard to the masses. It’s al­most six o’clock. Is he flag­ging? “Flag­ging? Come on, it’s me!”

So you’re writ­ing a farewell to Peter in the ChriStmaS SPe­Cial. how muCh are you alSo writ­ing a good­bye to your­Self?

It’s en­tirely a farewell to Peter and not at all a good­bye to me. There is noth­ing in the fic­tional uni­verse that changes be­cause I’m go­ing. I’ll take story from any­where, so if there’s a story in the showrun­ner leav­ing the show that works, tell me what it is, be­cause I can’t see it. Who cares? Even I don’t care. It’s en­tirely Peter’s farewell, and even within that I’m quite strict, as I was with Matt – the Doc­tor is not dy­ing. The Doc­tor is car­ry­ing on. We’re not telling the kids that the new Doc­tor is a re­place­ment. They’re the same per­son, and they’re car­ry­ing on this ad­ven­ture. That’s very im­por­tant.

what did you want to give Peter for hiS fi­nal Story?

It was a weird one, be­cause we’d sort of done it in the Cy­ber­men two-parter. That was him choos­ing a hill to die on. So what do we do when we come back, purely in or­der to main­tain the Christmas slot for Doc­tor Who? It’s a Christmas story of res­ur­rec­tion! He can choose to die rather than change. He has now changed a ridicu­lous num­ber of times, more times than he should have. Tech­ni­cally he’s four and a half bil­lion years old. He’s been around an in­sanely long time. How does he find the spirit and the en­ergy and

Steven Mof­fat with di­rec­tor Rachel Talalay.

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