Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Gonna need a bigger Tardis

From The Doctor Who Cuttings Archive
Jump to navigationJump to search

  • Publication: The Times
  • Date: 2010-12-18
  • Author: Mike Mulvihill
  • Page: Playlist, p. 31
  • Language: English

Doctor Who's Steven Moffat tells us how A Christmas Carol meets Jaws in his festive special

The Doctor Who head honcho Steven Moffat has thrown the Christmas kitchen sink at his first seasonal special. There's plenty of snow, a couple of carols, a bit of Charles Dickens and, of course. a man-eating shark that swims through the air. Well, it wouldn't be Christmas without one, would it? Mix in Michael Gambon as an otherworldly Scrooge. Katherine Jenkins as the damsel in distress, Karen Gillan in her policewoman's uniform and Matt Smith on tremendous form as the Doctor and you have a Christmas treat that will leave the whole family grinning until Boxing Day. "I've honestly never been so excited about writing anything," Moffat says, almost bouncing off the walls as I talk to him at his London home. After the success of Doctor Who and his reinvention of Sherlock last year. Moffat is the writer of the moment, but he took time out from his hectic schedule to tell us what to expect from the Christmas special and what we can look forward to when the Doctor returns for a new series next year. And if that wasn't enough. he also found time to set his Doctor Who quiz, which you can try your hand at overleaf.

So, what can we expect from the Christmas special?

Well I suppose it's very much A Christmas Carol. Christmas is always about the past and the future which I think is why A Christmas Carol works so brilliantly. Every Christmas you always think back and you always think forwards. Christmas Day's different from other days; it's the only day you contemplate having a selection box for breakfast! So it's not like it's a typical Doctor Who. It is bigger, more colourful, madder, sweeter.

It's also a magnificently surreal episode

Well yes. I know there are moments when you're thinking, 'What on earth is this?' But the thing with Doctor Who is you actually have to have stories at that level because the hero himself lives in a telephone box that's bigger on the inside. And he's 900 years old and he wears a bow tie. I mean, we come in at that level. We can't then simply go and, you kni..". visit a hospital. You've actually got to go and have huge. mad. insane adventures.

And where did you get the inspiration for that terrifying shark?

I thought the shark would be a cool monster. Because we need a monster, obviously, we can't do A Christmas Carol. And when I was a kid, I used to be properly worried that sharks might evolve and come ashore. I was particularly frightened of sharks. Not because of Jaws; this was before Jaws. I was always terrified of sharks. So the idea that they could swim ashore and come to your bedroom was the ultimate for me. I thought a shark zooming through someone's window eating a fish, that would be bloody terrifying! I have to say, I've seen it, and it's a proper jump-out-of-your-seat moment.

Dd writing the Christmas episode differ from writing a normal episode?

It was really, properly different. I think Christmas specials should be firmly Christmassy; I think it should be something you want on Christmas Day and maybe of want in the same way another day. I love the film Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life but could only ever watch they at Christmas. I wouldn't contemplate them at any other time of year because it's such a specific day. So it did feel very different.

Do you feel added pressure because it's such high-profile episode?

Yes. I suppose. But it's costly just really, really exciting. You could take time out and bother to be nervous and frightened and worried, or you could just enjoy it because it won't last for ever.

How did you get Katherine Jenkins on board?

Well. I thought as it was Christmas Carol there should be a carol in it and it should be a new one. I knew that Murray Gold [the composer would jump at that, so it came from that. I knew very little about who Katherine was: I just saw the audition tapes and thought: Well, she's brilliant."

She auditioned for the part?

Yes. she did. I think she actually insisted on reading or it because she's not done lot of acting. which I didn't realise. So she wanted to come in and read and see if he was up for it. because someone in her position doesn't want to louse up. And I just thought on the basis of the audition with only a hazy notion of who she was, that she was terrific. It was a tremendously appealing, tonally spot-on performance.

Was Michael Gambon someone you always wanted to work with?

Well, it was quite a conundrum. You think you want a big, classy actor because you want a bit of gravitas — you want it to be someone you've always wanted to see play Scrooge. But you always want someone who's going to appeal to children, who means something to them. So who is that? I mean. actually, when you've arrived at the idea of Michael Gambon, you can't think of anyone better. Because the kids all love him, they all instantly know who he is. He's not the Singing Detective, he's Dumbledore. Yet he's also the Singing Detective, one of the greatest actors of his generation. So we've got all that in one go. We've got a genuinely great actor with enormous appeal to kids.

You're a massive Doctor Who fan yourself. What's your earliest memory of the show?

My first memory is arguing with my dad about where Doctor Who had gone, because Patrick Troughton had just taken over and I didn't understand where Doctor Who was. I kept saying: "Where's the Doctor? Where is he? Who's he? He's far too young!"

In which direction are you planning to take the series when it returns next year?

When the series comes bad I think in some ways it will be slightly edgier than before; think we've pushed it that way, actually. I mean, Doctor Who's always sentimental but it's a bit edgier now and maybe at times a bit darker. We've got some proper, proper scary stuff in the net series. I saw some footage the new monsters and they are terrifying. I think the whole thing about an old series is you want to feel as though it's young and punk and slightly naughty.

When you look back on these series, I want people to think it's unpredictable and dangerous rather than this grand old thing that people love and forget about. I want people to watch Doctor Who because you don't know what the hell is going to happen next and I think we've got some proper stuff like that. It will go off in unexpected directions this year; I can guarantee that and I can guarantee some jaw-dropping moments in the script this year.

Fantastic. So back behind the sofas then

Back behind the sofas, but also that feeling of "Oh my God, they're not going to do that, are they? Are they allowed to do that?" The sort of feeling that you get when a series is young — you don't know what it's going to do next. You know how, when television series age, you get to know them. You know the limits, you know the rule book in a way, but when you saw that first series you didn't know the rule book and it was much more alarming and exciting.

In a way I'm trying to make Doctor Who feel newer that way, which I think is really working. I want to say: "What makes you think you know him that well; what makes you think you know everything you do?" So I think that's the way we're going with it Doctor Who, Christmas Day, BBC One. 6pm

Easier questions (on the recent series)

1. Which European city played host to vampires in the l6th century?

2. What is the name of the village where Amy and Rory live?

3. The Doctor enjoys eating what with custard

4. What's the name of the reptilian monsters that live under the Earth?

5. Who disguised herself as Cleopatra?

6. Who ruled Starship UK

7. Which British Prime Minister helped the Doctor to fight the Daleks? 8. Name the artist Amy and the Doctor met in France

9. What monster was in the hold of the Byzantium?

10. What was the name the box found under Stonehenge?

Harder questions (on the recent series)

1. What's Amy Pond's middle name?

2. What model Tardis does the Doctor own?

3. What was the name of the device that the Daleks activated to create their next generation?

4. Who are Tabitha and Augustus?

5. Name the village that played host to Silurians in 2020

6. Name the planet where the Byzantium crashed

7. Which episode mentioned a rude Mr Lang?

8. What colour is the Dalek scientist?

9. How many psychiatrist did Amy see between her first and second meeting with the Doctor?

10. How many paintings did Vincent van Gogh sell during his lifetime?

VINTAGE QUESTIONS: Famous last words Which Doctor's parting quotes were these?

1. "A tear, Sarah Jane? No, don't cry. While there's life, there's ..."

2. "Ah, yes! Thank you. It's good. Keep warm."

3. "Rose, before I go I just wanna tell you: you were fantastic, absolutely fantastic ...and d'you know what? So was I!" "Adric?"

5. "It's the end ... but the moment has been prepared for ... "

6. "I don't want to go."

7. "No! Stop! You're making me giddy! No, you can't do this to me! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No!"

Friends reunited

With which Doctors are these companions most associated?

1. Tegan Jovanka, an Australian air hostess

2. Mickey Smith, a mechanic

3. Zoe Heriot, a librarian on board Space Station W3

4. Jo Grant, a junior civilian operative for the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce

5. Barbara Wright, a history teacher

6. Kamelion, a shape changing android

Bad boys

1. Who is the leader of the Daleks?

2. Name the villains who originated from the following planets:




d)Metebells III

3. Name the insane, botany-obsessed millionaire who allowed a Krynoid, a form of intelligent alien plant, to possess one of his henchmen

4. Mutated Kaleds are otherwise known as what?

5. Which of these actors hasn't played a Doctor Who villain? Derek Jacobi, Imelda Staunton, Peter Kay, Zoe Wanamaker, Simon Pegg, John Simm

6. Which intergalactic villain said: "You see, Doctor, you're my intellectual equal. Almost. I have too few worthy opponents. When they've gone I always miss them."

Find the answers on page 43


EASY 1. Venice; 2. Leadworth; 3. Fish fingers; 4. Silurians (or Eocenes, earth reptiles); 5. River Song; 6. Liz 10; 7. Winston Churchill; 8. Van Gogh; 9. Weeping Angel; 10. Pandorica

HARD 1. Jessica; 2. Type 40; 3. Progenitor; 4. Amy Pond's parents; 5. Cwm Taf; 6. Alfava Metraxis; 7. The Lodger; 8. Orange; 9. Four:10. One

LAST WORDS 1. Jon Pertwee; 2. William Hartnell; 3. Christopher Eccleston; 4. Peter Davison; 5. Tom Baker; 6. David Tennant; 7. Patrick Troughton

FRIENDS REUNITED 1. Tom Baker; 2. David Tennant; 3. Patrick Troughton; 4. Jon Pertwee; 5. William Hartnell; 6. Peter Davison

BAD BOYS 1. Davros; 2a. Cybermen; 2b. Sontarans; 2c. Daleks; 2d. Giant Spiders; 3. Dr Harrison Chase; 4. The Daleks; 5. Imelda Staunton; 6. The Master

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to

  • APA 6th ed.: Mulvihill, Mike (2010-12-18). Gonna need a bigger Tardis. The Times p. Playlist, p. 31.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Mulvihill, Mike. "Gonna need a bigger Tardis." The Times [add city] 2010-12-18, Playlist, p. 31. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Mulvihill, Mike. "Gonna need a bigger Tardis." The Times, edition, sec., 2010-12-18
  • Turabian: Mulvihill, Mike. "Gonna need a bigger Tardis." The Times, 2010-12-18, section, Playlist, p. 31 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Gonna need a bigger Tardis | url= | work=The Times | pages=Playlist, p. 31 | date=2010-12-18 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=22 October 2020 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Gonna need a bigger Tardis | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=22 October 2020}}</ref>