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Change is good, 'Doctor Who' writer insists

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Peter Capaldi returns for season nine of "Doctor Who," which premiered Saturday.


It's July and Steven Moffat is already thinking about Christmas. Although the holiday was still a half a year away, it's really rather late for him to come up with an idea for the annual "Doctor Who" Christmas adventure, plus get it shot, edited and ready to show on BBC America.

The ninth season of "Doctor Who" began Saturday on BBC America, with a two-part script written by Moffat. Peter Capaldi returns as Doctor Who for a second season while Jenna Coleman is back as the Doctor's spunky traveling partner, Clara Oswald.

Capaldi is the fourth actor to portray the Doctor since the series returned. He follows Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith. Moffat's looking for great things from Capaldi this year because it takes all of the actors playing the Doctor a season to get a handle on the character.

That was particularly true with this Doctor, whom Moffat has made less charming than the ones before him. There's a charm there, but it often gets overshadowed by his drive to accomplish his missions.

"Ifs the only job in television where everybody asks you when you are leaving," Moffat says. "I'm not making this up. The first question that David Tennant got at the preview of The Christmas Invasion' was 'How long are you planning to stay?' And he said, just got here. I've just arrived."'

Changing lead actors actually has been a good thing for Moffat. Each new personality has given the writing staff freedom to go in a variety of directions with the character.

Moffat believes the changes are why the series is headed into a ninth season.

"It becomes a new series. It's a star vehicle. It used to be the Matt Smith star vehicle. Now, it's the Peter Capaldi star vehicle. That's how it works as a show. It seems counterintuitive, in a way, because we keep changing the lead," Moffat says.

Even with odd problems, running the series about the immortal Time Lord who darts through time and space in a police box known as the Tardis has been a lifelong dream for Moffat. He was a huge fan of the series as a boy growing up in Scotland. He started working as a screenwriter in 1988, but before he could find his way onto the "Doctor Who" staff, the series was canceled in 1989.

"I was crushed," Moffat says. "But, I kept working and was ready when the show came back."

Along with writing for other TV shows (he is also the head writer and executive producer of the Benedict Cumberbatch series "Sherlock"), Moffat wrote several novels and short stories featuring the Doctor. Then, in 2004, when it was announced "Doctor Who" was coming back to TV, Moffat was signed as one of the writers. Four years later he took over as head writer and executive producer when Russell T. Davies left.

Now, he's the man behind the Doctor. If he wanted to, because the Doctor often transforms his appearance, Moffat could make the Doctor a woman.

"I would have no problem doing that as long as it made sense to the story," Moffat says.

The ninth season will have the travelers going on a journey that takes them to deadly alien planets, creepy underwater bases, Viking villages, a global Zygon uprising, and through hidden alien dens, to the very end of time itself. Meeting monsters old and new, the Doctor will come face to face with Missy (Michelle Gomez), a city of Daleks, deadly mercenaries called the Mire, terrifying ghosts and more.

And, as for the Christmas episode that was hanging over his head, his eventual solution is to have Alex Kingston reprise her role as Professor River Song. The last time the Doctor saw her, she was a ghost.

DOCTOR WHO 9 p.m. Saturday, BBC America

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  • APA 6th ed.: Bentley, Rick (2015-09-25). Change is good, 'Doctor Who' writer insists. Herald News p. D7.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Bentley, Rick. "Change is good, 'Doctor Who' writer insists." Herald News [add city] 2015-09-25, D7. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Bentley, Rick. "Change is good, 'Doctor Who' writer insists." Herald News, edition, sec., 2015-09-25
  • Turabian: Bentley, Rick. "Change is good, 'Doctor Who' writer insists." Herald News, 2015-09-25, section, D7 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Change is good, 'Doctor Who' writer insists | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Change_is_good,_%27Doctor_Who%27_writer_insists | work=Herald News | pages=D7 | date=2015-09-25 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=21 June 2024 }}</ref>
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