News Categories
Archives

Moffat: Day Was My Most Difficult Script Ever

moffat-worried-fiveSteven Moffat has admitted how difficult and terrifying he found writing The Day of the Doctor and the expectations upon his shoulders.

In a lengthy interview from the Radio Times he says: “I don’t think I’ve ever worked on anything that was as difficult, terrifying and as much of a responsibility as writing the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who. I wanted everybody to love it. I knew that was impossible, but I wanted people – from those who had never seen it, to the absolute diehard fans who hate every episode I’ve written – to love it. So it was monstrously stressful and very hard: the uncastable cast, the impossible brief, the unwritable script…

“I can remember sitting with my wife saying, “I can’t tell if it’s good any more, it could be rubbish – I’ll have to leave the country. I’ll have to fake my own death.” And then going for a meeting with the producers the week I was meant to hand the script in, and we were still trying to assemble the cast. We all just sat there, thinking, “This is impossible, this can’t ever work!”

“All of these problems, of course, had been 50 years in the making. There was, I reasoned, only one story to tell if the Doctor was to meet himself – this had to be the day when he saved himself. And in the whole history of Doctor Who, there was only one day he needed saving from.

“There was a tremendous crime committed during the Time War that the Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith Doctors have all referred to, but we’ve never seen it played out or seen the consequences of it. When we got John Hurt, with that extraordinary voice, I knew we could make his Doctor face that day – the most terrible day of his life. We would finally witness that moment.

“By the time we discover him, the John Hurt Doctor has been fighting the Time War for centuries. He doesn’t call himself the Doctor, and doesn’t behave like him, either – this is our hero as a dark and battle-hardened general. I think it’s nice for a hero to have a dark chapter, although it’s a chapter we will probably never see again because that somehow isn’t Doctor Who. “

Step back in time...

COMMENT GUIDELINES

Please be civil and keep article comments relevant and on topic. Flag and report any offensive/trolling behavior, or contact us with details.
Please do not post SPOILERS including anything from leaked episodes! Your account could be banned. For complete details on our comment policy please read.
127 comments
calliarcale
calliarcale

I think he succeeded.  Not only did I love it, but it turned my daughter from hating Who into loving it, and it made an instant fan out of my sister-in-law, who came to my Doctor Who party but who had never seen Doctor Who before.  That transformation is what convinced me that it was successful.  Not only did it celebrate the series, it also delivered it to new audiences.  And that is amazing.  ;-)

Warisfiller
Warisfiller

Classic Who is only boring if you come into it expecting constant running and yelling and explosions like NuWho, but the most of the show is really well paced and really entertaining for anyone with an attention span higher than a goldfish( or NuWho fan) and tolerance for low budget visuals.

JulianPrime
JulianPrime

The worst haters of new a Who are classic fans who want the program they know and love back. I think it's their youth the hanker for. And I totally get that. The truth is. I've tried watching it time and time again from the classic years. But it's unwatchable. From the long episodes with nothing happening, the awful music. The hamminess. It was a great premise let down by its budgets and era. Worst offenders being the 80's and late 70's. I gave it another chance with new Who because I love the premise so much. And I've never looked back. Love it. I'm 41. I was always meant to come from the classic Who camp I guess being in that age range.

WhoPotterVian
WhoPotterVian

"only one story to tell if the Doctor was to meet himself,"- He'd already met himself before Day of the Doctor in The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors. This makes little sense.



JFrance
JFrance

I thought Steven Moffat did a great job with The Day of the Doctor and I have enjoyed every episode he has written and I have also enjoyed every episode that RTD has written as well.  

JamesCresswell
JamesCresswell

Most Moffat episodes of Doctor Who have been dross, in my opinion. However, even I will admit that he had a terrible job trying to write the 50th. There was no way he was going to please everyone. That's impossible. As much as I liked Hurt as The Doctor, I still would have preffered Christopher Eccleston there. It would have been so much better.

Saying that though, I thoroughly enjoyed the 50th. I wouldn't say it was the best special or episode ever written, but it had the little nods to the past which I liked. Also you can't fault anything which had Tom Baker in it. That for me made the 50th worth waiting for.

trenzalew
trenzalew

I'd say 50% of it was great. The other? Not so much.

DeanAlexander
DeanAlexander

The positive and negative comments on this subject say more about the commentators than the episode itself. For a 75 minute long family piece of television, I thought it was fantastic.

WiblyWoblyTimyWimyMOFFAT
WiblyWoblyTimyWimyMOFFAT

How would Moffat fake his death? Jumping from a building inside a Robot wich looks like him?

beskar
beskar

The thing is, however, the John Hurt Doctor simply acted like a slightly cranky, yet bemused Doctor... he wasn't mean or tough or battle hardened at all. Even when he had a gun in his hands, he wrote a silly message on a wall with it. We got NO inkling that he wasn't the Doctor, or had been through great trauma.

Mary Sue's Vertue
Mary Sue's Vertue

Steven Moffat faced the unenviable task of writing the story that would celebrate the 50th anniversary of ''Doctor Who'', and he was damned by a section of the fandom months before the special was even broadcast. What he produced was, in my opinion, a masterpiece of storytelling . The 23rd of November 2013 is a day that will live long in my memory. I know that some were unhappy with the finished episode , mainly because ''their'' classic Doctor wasn't ''invited to the party'', but I think he had to realistically create a narrative that didn't feel too forced and I believe he got the balance right. There was numerous references and in-jokes for the long term fans and a story that was accessible to the general viewing audience. There were many who were concerned that Moffat would not be able to pull it off and do the anniversary justice [ and there were those hoping he would fail ], but I'm sure the majority of those worries vanished within the first few minutes of the broadcast, and were totally dispelled as the end credits rolled past. Moffat, you done well, keep up the good work

giddir
giddir

It was great. Though, to be fair, when has he ever written a bad script

Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

people might complain about parts of it but it was a brave thing Steven did

Liana21
Liana21

I absolutely love Day, it's not perfect, he could add little cameos of Davison, Baker and McCoy as Tom Baker has his scene for bright and McGann has Night, but it was really beautiful and funny.

StephenAHayes
StephenAHayes

Well mission accomplished Mr. Moffat... I was dazzled and amazed

Andrew_Swallow
Andrew_Swallow

In the 'Day of the Doctor' the Doctor saved the Time Lords but for their many crimes he also imprisoned them.  In 'The End of Time' he returned Gallifrey and the Time Lords to prison.


In 'the Unquiet Dead' the Doctor also returned the Gelth a time race to their prison.  The first thing the Gelth did on being allowed out was to start a massacre.  This leads to a question "Who destroyed the Gelth's planet?"  Suspects include the Daleks, the Time Lords and the Doctor.

VortexDan
VortexDan

Didn't work, and it's hard to call it a dark chapter when you put a big friendly button in the middle of it to make it all shiny

JulianPrime
JulianPrime

Here here. What a spot on appraisal.

SteveWillis
SteveWillis

@Warisfiller  In my personal experience and observations, it's difficult to convince others of your opinion if you're insulting them. Jelly Baby.

Rani Nose
Rani Nose

Would it have hurt to make your argument without gratuitously insulting people?

mn0062
mn0062

@JulianPrimeAs a 51yo who grew up with the original eps I love both the old and new. These days I am a fan of Matt Smiths Doctor. 

I think you have to understand that at the time it was something new, something original and great fun to watch. The old eps have dated very badly but the ideas, the characters and the philosophy behind haven't and that is why, in any era, it is a great show. Parts adapt and that is a good thing.

That's why I will never say old is better than new or visa versa.

A great man once said "We all change. When you think about it, we're all different people all through our lives, and that's okay, that's good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me."

DW_girl
DW_girl

@JulianPrime I can't really watch the classic series either. To be frank, most of them are boring, and take too long to watch. New-Who all the way!

JohnHurtDoctor
JohnHurtDoctor

@WhoPotterVian  It does make sense if you read the whole quote " There was, I reasoned, only one story to tell if the Doctor was to meet himself – this had to be the day when he saved himself." The key is "I reasoned", this is Moffat's opinion & I agree with him!








Rani Nose
Rani Nose

@beskar  Spot on!  The War Doctor was the lovable, but gruff Captain Grumpy, not some bitter, cynical shell of the Doctor who no longer knows or cares about the difference between right and wrong.  Likewise, when Moffat says Capaldi's Doctor is going to be a "snarling beast" we all know that he's not going to be all that snarly or beastly, but a Doctor that is slightly less silly and a bit more serious.

DeanAlexander
DeanAlexander

@beskar A couple hundred years of fighting would not make you mean and tough, it would make you weary and as you say "bemused" - no? Like an extreme form of shell-shock. I've spent a couple of hours in the boxing ring and it doesn't make you "tough" - you are just tired. John Hurt got it spot on. Tired, weary and cynical.

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

@giddir Well, The Doctor, the widow and the wardrobe wasn't very good. But I guess it wasn't terrible either.

DW_girl
DW_girl

@VortexDan It wasnt a big friendly button- it was a weapon that would wipe out the whole of Gallifrey if it was pressed. I can't associate the adjective 'friendly' with that....

Gustaff
Gustaff

@VortexDan You do realize that they didn't use the button right? It's only a copout if they use it.

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

@mn0062 @JulianPrime I've been watching the Pertwee repeats on The Horror Channel and enjoyed them, though they could do with some editing, Planet of the Daleks doesn't need 6 parts to tell its story for example.

Piramids of Mars
Piramids of Mars

this is why i hate new who fans who don't like classic doctor who !!

beskar
beskar

@Notsosmartguy the Superior Venom Feel free to explain why. Again, the John Hurt Doctor simply acted like a slightly cranky, yet bemused Doctor. Tell me how he was more than that.



beskar
beskar

@Notsosmartguy the Superior Venom @Mary Sue's Vertue  Sure it was a good episode. What I'm less impressed by is this kind of retrospective, "...this is our hero as a dark and battle-hardened general..." speak, as though it's fact. And as though Moffat wrote some kind of really dark and different story. The Hurt Doctor was barely different to other Doctors at all.

Eradallion
Eradallion

@RobertLythgoe @giddir  Actually, I think that most of Moffat's scripts look very good on paper and are very good reads. If you just think about the concepts and ideas and plots we see, they're actually really cool and amazing ideas. But scripts never turn out as you imagine them while writing them, and not everything works as well on screen as it did on paper. So I think that the directors and producers are to blame when something doesn't look quite right, not Moffat. His ideas are wonderful. 

calliarcale
calliarcale

@Planet of the Deaf @mn0062@JulianPrimeAll the six-parter (and longer!) stories during the Pertwee era suffer from that, in my opinion.  Some six-parters work; "Genesis of the Daleks", for instance, I think benefits because it lets us really get to know the Kaleds and then the Thals, and "Seeds of Doom" is great because it lets us have a more stepped story development -- almost two different stories.  But a lot of the ones longer than four parts get too long in places.  To me, it's a bit like reading Charles Dickens, who was a great writer but since he was writing in serial form, padding got him paid more so of course he did it.  ;-)

DW_girl
DW_girl

You do not hate me as you do not know me.

calliarcale
calliarcale

@Notsosmartguy the Superior Venom @The_Eternal_Dalek@beskarI don't think he was meant as a clever representation of classic who fans who aren't fond of new who.  Have you seen any of the past multi-Doctor stories?  He acted exactly the way all the other Doctors have acted upon meeting their other selves.


Doctor 2: "Well, so long!  Fancypants."

Doctor 3: "Scarecrow."

Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

@The_Eternal_Dalek @Notsosmartguy the Superior Venom @beskar  I didn't mean to be rude :-( I'm sorry. The war doctor to me is the world weary figure we were promised. He did seem like the man who would end it all no matter what even if it meant eternal guilt. Sure he's got his silly moments with him hilariously mocking his future counterparts. He was also a clever representation of classic who fan s who aren't too fond of new who. I respect your opinion Bezier and while day of the Doctor isn't a perfect adventure (it's close though in my books) the war doctor wasn't.

I Stole a Hatstand
I Stole a Hatstand

@beskar @Notsosmartguy the Superior Venom  Is it not that he was the one who allegedly destroyed Gallifrey? He hadn’t actually gone through with the act for most of the time that we saw him, so his personality hadn’t been altered by it, but he did intend to all along (and would have done, had the events of DotD not prevented it).


I thought it was the fact that he would have done something that went completely against the Doctor’s nature that made him the ‘dark chapter’.

The_Eternal_Dalek
The_Eternal_Dalek

@Notsosmartguy the Superior Venom @beskar Fact of the matter is, you probably never will change somebody's mind but at the very least have the decency to present your argument. It's just rude to come in and say "I disagree with you" then refuse to give an explanation.