Doctor Who: Steven Moffat on "getting nowhere" asking Russell T.Davies to return

News Louisa Mellor 22 Feb 2013 - 07:53

Despite making him continual offers, Steven Moffat says that Russell T.Davies is unlikely to return to writing Doctor Who...

In the wonderful Ed Stradling interview with Steven Moffat that did the rounds yesterday, a number of interesting questions were posed to the Doctor Who showrunner. How long is Matt Smith's tenure likely to be? Answer: until the end of time. What's your least favourite self-penned episode? Answer: The Beast Below. And your favourite? Answer: Not Blink, not The Empty Child, but The Big Bang...

One of the most interesting though, was the question of how likely it was that Russell T. Davies would ever return to writing on Who, and this is what Moffat said:

"I do keep asking him, seriously, could you imagine I don't? I get really resentful if I hear that he's written anything that is even vaguely around the Doctor Who area because I'm saying 'Bring it over here!' Are you kidding? Like a shot. Like a shot. He's the best writer breathing I think in terms of television, he's absolutely superb and oh my God, I'd book a holiday, that would be brilliant. So, believe me, the offer is continually made and I'm getting nowhere. I think he did his duty, my God did that man do his duty for Doctor Who, so he's maybe wanting a nice long rest from it - not a rest from being a fan, by the way, just a rest from being a writer."

Fair dos. If ever a man deserved a chance to relax back into fandom after doing extraordinary work on a show, it's Russell T. Davies. We wish him and his family all the best.

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As incredibly grateful as I am for what he's done for Who, I for one much prefer the idea of RTD as a fan than a writer of the show going forward.

Let him move into Who legend and live off the thankfulness of the rest of us, as the memory of the frustrations felt during his tenure gradually fade into the distant past.

And in the red corner...

here here.

It's odd, I felt plenty of frustration during his tenure (although I rate the first series pretty highly) and I do generally prefer Moffat's era (series 5 is my fave of the new run) but for some reason I haven't found it as compulsive lately. Even during series four, which probably contained more misses than hits for me, I still tuned in religiously every week. Now I tend to watch on catch-up, sometimes up to two days after broadcast. Maybe it's the splitting up of seasons. Maybe it's the story arcs being picked up and ditched unsatisfactorily. Or maybe I'm just more susceptible to the oft-maligned 'soapy' stuff than I'd like to admit.

I believe it's the splitting of seasons for the most part. At least, that's it for me. I still think the story's are fine, but for some reason it doesn't grab me as it used to, and I blame the split seasons for that, even though I literally told my now ex-girlfriend last Christmas that "I really missed having the Doctor on the television." And I loved the Christmas episode, I really did.

I used to find the era of RTD frustrating, but, not as frustrating and infuriating as the era of Moffat. Far too many poorly realised arcs for me :)

I agree with you. I was a compulsive viewer from Series 1 to 4 (annoyed even to have to miss an episode and have to wait and watch it later!). I then watched Series 5, but towards the end of it I was not compulsive in my watching. Like you, I am ambivalent if I miss it and just watch it on catch-up when I have a chance.

I think you're right when you mention the arcs being dissapointing. I also think Moffat creates (in my opinion) unlike-able characters. The only character I liked from the Moffat era (so far) is Rory.
For comparison, my absolute all time favourite character is Donna Noble (with Jo Grant and Liz Shaw coming in a close joint second).

I agree with Moffat's choices of episodes. I like Beast Below, but it is a little slow in places. Big Bang was fast, fun and intriguing - everything Doctor Who should be.
The show has moved on from RTD, but a special one off would be welcomed with open arms... especially if it is in time for the big 5-0.

Moffat.Apart from the soaps, I couldnt agree more. 5 episodes is not long enough to introduce separate stories, a mini arc and a series arc. I feel, as a whole, series 5 is the best, followed by RTD's first, second and third. The best single episodes, in my opinion, come solely from o

Rory indeed - though River Song was great early on too. Amy got annoying pretty quickly. I do like what Moffat and Matt Smith have done with the Doctor however. Tennent was still the best Doctor of the modern era (IMHO), but I think Smith's Doctor is more entertaining somehow.

A good point, River Song was great to begin with but seemingly her character development went into tailspin further down the line. Weirdly enough, I like Tennant and Smith pretty much equally, but, again for comparison, my two fav Doctors are Patrick Troughton and Sylvester McCoy :)

RTD was great at characters and weaker at story.

I like the idea of him writing the odd episode. Maybe we'll get one or two more things like Midnight on the tiny chance he agrees?

It never ceases to amuse me when fans tag Davies' use of companions' families as 'soap opera' in style - especially when the original TARDIS crew consisted of a man and his granddaughter!

As far as I'm aware, 'soap' stories tend to be generally along the lines of such tropes as, "I'm a new character with a secret in my backstory"; "I'm about to get married, but I find this handsome stranger attractive"; "I'm pregnant - but who's the father?"; or "I'm your long-lost daughter".

What sort of writer would ever think of introducing such themes into Doctor Who?

I only started watching with Tom Baker, then faded off with Peter Davidson...with the odd catch here and there before the new series started. I would love to go back and watch all of the older shows from the beginning, but who has the time?

I barely have time to write comments...

Sorry but for me, Russell T.Davies is the most overated writer around at the mo... I hated Dr Who during his run and for me his work with Dr Who never felt like the 'real' Dr Who I remember as a child... way too camp and silly (even for Dr Who). Almost all of his stories were just re-workings of the same 'alien species trying to detroy/take-over earth' story. The best thing to happen to Dr Who was him leaving!

I would love for him to come back , but i can just imagine the bitching if he did.

During his era, I was frequently frustrated by what I saw as RTD's poor grasp of logic and his tendency to the overblown. That said, I found it utterly compulsive viewing and, no matter how overblown, I cared -really cared- what happened. I was like a kid all over again.

When it was announced that SM was taking over, I thought that I was going to get Doctor Who just as I wanted it. I was wrong. Much as I still enjoy the stories and much as I think Matt Smith is the first truly Doctorish Doctor since 2005, it doesn't work for me nearly so well.

Much as SM beats RTD in terms of intricate plots, he just can't bring the same warmth or understanding of character to the show. The characters are sitcom characters, often rescued by the acting (Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill both excellent, especially in season 6). And he can't write women -they're either mothers or inaccessible vaguely sado-masochistic fantasy women. RTD wrote women from the inside out, Moffat from the outside in.

Even the thing the thing that RTD most irritated me with -sacrificing logic for spectacle and blowing his finales is worse under Moffat. Pandorica opens was a superb, exciting, emotional, sometimes creepy, and genuinely intriguing piece of television but The Big Bang pissed it all away. And then there was the Amy and Rory losing their baby story. I still genuinely cannot believe that any writer of Moffat's ability could show such a spectacular lack of emotional intelligence. Yes, it's River Song and, yes, Rory and Amy find that out -but they STILL LOST THEIR BABY. Show us the consequences of that -don't just tell us it happened, make us feel it.

I still enjoy Doctor Who and, as a loyal fan since Tom Baker's day, it will always be something I love, my favourite TV programme and my only fictional hero. But I just don't care as much as I did during 2005-2010. It's slick but glib, well-produced but frequently lacking warmth and charm and a real understanding of people.

Wow Thomas Love you really seem to have hit on something there. It's really nice to see people leaving thoughtful comments about SM and RTD without being fanatically for or against. I feel the same way about the show not being as compulsive of late, I still watch every episode but unlike the first 4 new series I no longer re-watch them afterwards. I know, how sad to watch them twice! Actually I did re-watch The Impossible Astronaut. Lots. Also what a great interview, Moffat seems like such a nice guy!

I can't get nostalgic for the RTD era after four bloody years of David Tennant jumping on and off things and crying.

How about "I have a boyfriend, but I have met another man who I have fallen in love with."

A plot like that would never appear in Doctor Who, would it?

If he pulled off another Midnight then I wish he would return for the odd episode (I thought RTDs work was mostly AWFUL but I'd be interested to see if he could pull off higher standards when just doing the odd story, his work outside Who is genenrally much better).
But working on Dr Who you can never use the internet... I can see why he might want to avoid the show.

I agree the show changed when Tom left (even his last season had a different, super-serious vibe), but instead of going forward to Peter Davidson, give Pertwee a try! It's a lot like Tom's stuff, just without Tom. Sarah Jane shows up for his last season, though! Venusian Karate! :D

I don't why you've been given a mark down Beth. I hope it isn't because you said you liked McCoy and Troughton as they're two of my favourite Doctors. Troughton was just so much fun to watch and no Doctor has really captured the tension he created in his acting as you really felt he was going to die in the episode.

McCoy is so under-rated and it annoys me when he is rated as the worst Doctor ever as he had some great stories like, Battlefield, survival and Remembrance of the Daleks. Ace is one of my favourite companions and I'd love to see her make a return like Sarah Jane.

We don't want RTD back!!!!

Midnight is such an underrated episode -- absolutely brilliant.

When Doctor Who came back, it was such a thrill. There has not been a season I have not anticipated, packed with moments where you talk about it the next day with friends and say "Oh God that was awesome, or I can't believe they", I love the show.

Having said that, I find that personally I enjoyed the Davies years more than the Moffat ones. It doesn't mean I am a 'Hater' (what a stupid, childish term, makes anyone with a criticism sound like they are running some Nazi or KKK group). It doesn't mean the revelations of River Song didn't have me on the edge of my seat. I just liked Davies style better. And even so, I feel like I am arguing over which shade of diamond is better, it's all wonderful.

though I must admit, watching the walking dead now even more makes me wish David Morrissey had truly been the next doctor. Brilliant actor.

I wish people who vote negatively would actually be bothered to respond and go into detail as to why. Otherwise it just shows sour grapes on their part, and envy - because said negative-voter is clearly incapable of countering your points with any facts.

Try watching a Hartnell story - it's not about everybody paying attention to Susan crying like a wimp every 2 minutes, or the Doctor french-kissing her...

The original show was about adventure, finding the unexpected, opening one's mind...

You also forget the possibility that Susan is an adopted girl, who uses "grandfather" as a term of endearment? NOWHERE was it ever said that she is his biological daughter... and if she is, that works equally well. There are enough explanations to justify some origins but who cared at the time? It was about the adventure... something the modern show is just too scared to do, despite having CGI that would outdo any cardboard set. The new show relies on maudlin tearjerking and emotive music rather than telling a story, and it shows.

Even series 5 - note the use of incidental music, then look back at series 1-4. Series 5 is almost silent, letting - get this - actors and stories do the actual work of telling themselves, without the music being slopped on. The makers of series 1-4 (and the specials) knew that, without the flair, eyecandy, and earcandy, the show would sink. So that's what they relied on, and even on WHO forums, people are now pointing out how BAD the effects were in "Aliens of London" when, in 2005, they were saying how much better than butter those effects were. Their opinion of the story hadn't been helped, either... some still like it all the same, but I digress...)

The 2005 revival just stays on Earth 99% of the time without any explanation, camps it all up, and has Jackie whining when Rose isn't. It is soap-opera, and shallow, and it's that simple.

Even the Moff's era wallows in it, with the River Song being Amy's daughter routine. Right down to a bad parody of "The Empire Strikes Back" to spill the guts with... In Hartnell's era, Susan was just there and they got on with the adventures. The difference is very simple.

Not regarding the Doctor, no.

And why should it?

Why should this show be treated to the same trite cliches that every other show has to do? Is WHO so non-creative it has to do the "I have a boyfwiend" shtick?

So the name Rose Tyler doesn't mean anything to you?

I agree with pretty much every word of this, and it perfectly captures my feelings. I slagged off RTD's show incessantly during his era (it's part of the fun of being a Who fan, after all) but it came from a place of love and I was always, always excited about it. Moffat's Who is theoretically more my kind of show (less 21st Century Earth/London, more variety, less about companion families, infinitely better direction), but it just doesn't have the same magic and feels soulless a lot of the time. That said, I did really like Series 7A and thought it improved on pretty much all of my problems with Series 5 and 6 (though I wasn't quite as enthusiastic about The Snowmen). I'm cautiously optimistic about 7B but I'm not as hyped as I used to get around this time of year.

And IIRC the very next episode Turn Left as well, also by RTD, really gripping!

What about Martha Jones? the unrequited love for the Doctor theme of new series 3 was *terrible* for me, the scene where some character is complaining of her love interest not having a clue he likes her then Martha saying "you too?" was really cringe making IMHO.

The difference is very simple, the new series is far better overall than the Hartnell era. I am a huge fan of the original series but the Hartnell era is pretty lacking in really good stories, The Aztecs, DioE, The Crusade, The Myth Makers, parts of Dalek Masterplan and not a lot else really make the grade IMHO.

I think he avoids the show for the very simple reason that he likes being a fan, he likes knowing nothing about the new season and is simply enjoying seeing it fresh. If you are a writer for even just 1 episode you would have to be spoiled for the entire season.

My point was that people tag the era as "soap opera" simply on the grounds that some of the characters are shown to have families back at home - and THAT is a gross over-simplification of what constitutes 'soap'.

My point about the first Doctor and Susan was merely to illustrate that it is plot and NOT just the presence of family that makes for 'soapiness' - I'll accept, at a push, Rose and Mickey (but ONLY when they have their heart-to-heart in 'Boom Town'), but anyone who thinks that Russell T. Davies included the companions' families as anything other than a touchstone to show just how far the character(s) in question have come from their origins through the influence of travelling with the Doctor is just plain missing the point. Sure, maybe by the time we meet Donna it's become something of an overused technique, but overused and repetitive techniques of storytelling DID NOT end when Mr. Davies relinquished his post - in fact, I'd happily wager that there are more in play these days than ever before (or fewer ideas being wheeled out more and more often, if you prefer).

Incidentally, I happen to predate the BBC's wiping of much archive material in the 70s - I don't need to "Try watching a Hartnell story" - I've seen 'em all!

I agree. It is not that I do not want the Doctor to have a love life, but this guy has got the pick of women throughout all of time and space.

Turn Left was awful, a cameo of all the silliest monsters that season. But Midnight was superb.

I don't give a hoot if RTD comes back to Doctor Who. However, the man needs to bring back the glory that was once in Torchwood.

"You forget the possibility that Susan is an adopted girl, who uses "grandfather" as a term of endearment? NOWHERE was it ever said that she is his biological daughter [sic]"

No, I don't "forget the possibility" at all - because it's a ridiculous suggestion and appallingly bad fan retconning at that.

Who calls random old men "grandfather as a term of endearment" anyway?

Well, people can mark what they want, is all good by me. I am only 32, but, have watched plenty of Dr Who stories with Troughton and also read the Target books. Sylvester I do love as the Doctor, dark and funny (dependant on taste) - he was great in GhostLight and Curse of Fenric. He did have his faults but nothing too considerable to spoil my watching.

That is nonsensical, if any thing the Hartnell era, is much better than the new series, because the old series lets say to start, actually started the new series, it was that seed which makes doctor who what it is today, and it had to be good, didn't it , otherwise it would never have flourished. Secondly the series has done a lot with a little, the budget of doctor who was very thin. Thirdly that daleks were at least scary, which is the complete opposite of the Moffat era of daleks [this includes stories, as well as designs] they weren't complete failure, in the dalek invasion of Earth, the daleks were successful in taking over the Planet, and exterminated nearly all who resisted, unlike the paradigm daleks.
-There's more but i think that's enough points for now

As I said there are a few good stories, The Aztecs is one of my all time favorites, but are you really going to tell me The Sensorites is a cast iron classic? The Rescue?The Space Museum? The Gunfighters? Yes it did launch the series but DW had some of its worst ever ratings in S3 and nearly got cancelled, the Troughton era is *far* better with much the same budget and Susan, Vicki and Dodo don't hold a candle to Jamie, Victoria and Zoe.

As for the Moffat era in 2 & 1/2 season we have already had cast iron classics in Vincent and the Doctor, The Doctors Wife, The Girl Who Waited, Asylum of the Daleks and Cold War all of which have nothing to do with the more soapy elements.

Him coming back would be a disaster. I think RTD, when put under story constraints, can turn in something good, like Rose, Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways, Doomsday, Midnight or Turn Left. But when he's given everything, the story tends to be thrown out in favour of spectacle. The Last of the Time Lords is really confusing, especially in regards as to "the year that never was". The End of Time has too many plots competing for attention and many of them are not developed or given the time they deserve as a result. And his comedy, oh god, his comedy. Rather than the Robert Holmes approach of light moments amongst scary scenes, Russel instead goes and overdoes the comedy, need I say more than the Master dancing in The Last of the Time Lords or the cheesy Ghostbusters/Scooby Doo scene in Army of Ghosts. I'm fine with Who being silly, but Russel, in his worst moments, turned into a Benny Hill tribute! And as for his potrayal of women, Rose Tyler is extremely unlikeable and treats her boyfriend like dirt (Especially in Boom Town) and Martha is just a bland one-note character who's in love with the Doctor (that got old REALLY quickly), only Donna came across as likeable and good, because she did respect the Doctor but was not afraid to challenge him. His potrayal of the Tenth Doctor, at first, was really good, but by the time of The End of Time, the Doctor came across as whiny and selfish at the thought of dying when he had died nine times before and had been fine (with the exception of Two) with it.

I just don't get why people criticise Moffat all the time (not saying he's a great writer, but I believe he is better than Russel) when Davies had all the same flaws as him.

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