more South Park Black Spot Pirates this way...
 

 

 

 

 

DAVID TENNANT takes a nostalgic voyage of discovery to find out the secret behind the success of the series, speaking to long-time fans who are now working on the show and elsewhere in the television industry... including, naturally, Steven Moffat...  The following is a transcript of the Moffat/Tennant sections of the programme.

 

DT: These days, Doctor Who is filmed in Cardiff, but when I was a kid growing up, it was recorded here, at the BBC Television Centre near Shepherds Bush in London. When I was wee, this place seemed like a remote mystical palace, hundreds of miles away, where the Two Ronnies lived...  It was watching programmes from here that in no small part inspired me to become an actor.  It seems to me that there are quite a few people who are working in television today who grew up as Doctor Who fans. Quite a few of them have ended up working on Doctor Who. So I'm on a bit of quest, to find out whether growing up as a Doctor Who fan makes you a better person, and how it might end up influencing what you do for a living...

SM: There is no other show like this. There really is no other example of this genre.

 

DT: Steven Moffat made his name in television writing about dysfunctional relationships in the 21st century, but maybe what he always wanted to write about was malfunctioning spaceships in the 51st...  So, Steven Moffat, television writer of some repute, where did you grow up?

SM: I grew up in Paisley.

DT: In Paisley?

SM: Do you know it?

DT: Just down the road from myself! So, growing up in Paisley in the wind-swept west of Scotland, how remote did Television Centre feel to you?

SM: It was more Hollywood than Hollywood! I mean this place is more exciting to me to this day... That... [indicates TVC statue/fountain]

DT: ...where Roy Castle and the Record Breakers tap-danced...

SM: Exactly!  Every single planet in Doctor Who was in there.

DT: You grew up watching Doctor Who...

SM: Oh god yes!

DT: What was your era?

SM: I remember watching Patrick Troughton being bewilderingly the Doctor and being confused by that...

DT: Aye...

SM: And really from the start of Jon Pertwee I was watching every single episode devotedly.

DT: This is Studio 8... In this very studio, this list here will tell me...

SM: Very good!

DT: Oh yeah! We've done our research on this, yeah! This... In TC8 we had... The Sea Devils was in here...

SM: Oh really?

DT: Planet of the Spiders was in here....

SM: Jon Pertwee turned into Tom Baker in this room somewhere!

DT: Well, there were a few studios used for Planet of the Spiders so...

SM: But lets just say he did...

DT: Let's just say that the regeneration happened on this very spot.

SM: Yes, it was here! You've got a list of all of them, yeah?

DT: Here we go... TC8... The Silurians...

SM: Oh, I watched The Silurians...

DT: It was in here.

SM: All those events happened in this sort of...

DT: Well quite...

SM: ...in this dull grey very big room.

DT: Would it be fair to say that watching Doctor Who as a kid had a direct result on what you're now doing for a living?

SM: [laughs] Yes. I got into television... seriously... tragic but true... in order to write Doctor Who. I don't know... maybe like yourself, I got interested in background stuff in television, you know, how television was made, because of Doctor Who. But it wasn't really a background in television I was researching, it was how did they make Doctor Who.

DT:  Yes, in this very studio!

SM: Yes, how did they do it?

DT:  Here's another one - this is TC7. I think all the studios in TV Centre have been used at some point for Doctor Who... this is currently being used by Newsnight but we're going to invade it anyway.

SM: [pointing at the backdrop] I always thought that was really London! It's just a big picture!

DT:  Studio 7.... Robot filmed in here. This is where Tom Baker began. In fact, this might be the very studio... famously I remember there was a scene-shifters strike wasn't there, and Blue Peter transmitted from the Doctor Who set...

SM: I remember my Dad shouting up from downstairs saying "Doctor Who's on!" and I thought that's amazing, it's Wednesday or whatever day it was... Running down and discovering it was just Blue Peter and I burst into tears.

DT: Oh!

SM: Sorry Blue Peter but it just doesn't measure up to Doctor Who!

DT: It's just not the same. So what do you think? What was it about Doctor Who that fired up your little infant imagination?

SM: As a childrens programme it was all so frightening. There was no other show like this. There really is no other example of this genre.

DT: You were also charged this year with writing one where the Doctor didn't appear much...

SM: I used a story that I'd written for a Doctor Who annual. It was originally called What I Did On My Christmas Holidays by Sally Sparrow, aged 12 and a half... I thought well actually that's quite a good story as its already taken the Doctor out of the thing. He's leaving messages in the past. And I added in a bit more fear and terror.

DT: And aged Sally Sparrow up a little bit...?

SM: Children like watching older children and adults. They don't necessarily like watching kids of their own age.

DT: We've also got DVD extras saving the universe...

SM: Yes, well that's bound to happen eventually, isn't it?

DT: Which is a very post-modern idea I suppose.

SM: I've got the message in the wall, but I thought what else could he do? So I thought I know, I've always found the idea of easter eggs quite exciting cos I can never find them, so they seem genuinely exciting and remote to me, so the Doctor being a ghost DVD extra... I dunno... the moment I thought of it, that just sounds cool...

DT: There's also something spooky about it as well though. Until the other side of the conversation is filled in...

SM: Yes.

DT: ...There's something about a disembodied conversation that is slightly creepy...

SM: This is a format... I mean it works you hard as a writer, I think it works everybody hard, very hard... but I think if you are prepared to work hard, it helps you.

DT: Russell also says that. He says its the hardest thing to write. Why is that?

SM: The narrative burden on Doctor Who is colossal compared to anything else. In Doctor Who you've got two minutes, if that, of the Doctor and the companion in the TARDIS... you walk out the doors and its a new world of some kind or other. A whole bunch of people you have to introduce and dispose of in one episode. And it needs a big, strong idea every week. I think you know you've got a good idea for a Doctor Who story if you think "Well I've just blown that feature film idea forever, haven't I...?"

DT: Right.

SM: That's the size of story that gets you through 45 minutes of Doctor Who.

SM: I remember going to school on Monday morning and you'd talk about whether you'd made it through the entirety of Saturday's fear that day. I really do. And I remember thinking "I've made it all the way through those Autons and that was pretty tough..."

DT: But its a good fear right? I mean...

SM: Oh, its a healthy fear. But I think kids love scary things. I mean, if you say its a particularly scary episode of Doctor Who this Saturday, that's a recommendation...

DT: Hmmm...

SM: I think the very fact that its a childrens programme makes it scarier.

DT: What's the first time you remember being scared by it?

SM: This is going to sound made up... Tomb of the Cybermen. It was so frightening. Because it had that classic Doctor Who thing... which I think is a brilliantly constructed first two episodes, where the Cybermen don't appear at all. They are just painted on the walls, so you know they're coming. And then the long, protracted scenes of them coming out of the cells...  I thought all of that was brilliant. And I think it still works now.  I think I sort of became too frightened to watch it after Tomb of the Cybermen. And the next one... And in the interim I developed a real phobia about dummies, about shop dummies, and then my Dad said "Oh come and watch Doctor Who, there's a new Doctor." And I watch this thing and there's this guy who breaks into a factory and as he's walking through the factory one of the shop dummies steps down from a pedestal and starts moving towards him...  I didn't watch it for another four or five weeks. That was specifically targeted on me!

DT: So iconic was that that Russell used it for episode 1 of the new series.

SM: I was so thrilled when he did it. I remember reading the treatment and thinking "Ah! It's the Autons!" The scariest thing ever. The most illogical thing ever, makes no sense at all. If you were choosing to take over a whole planet, would you target shoppers? That wouldn't be the first place you'd go, is it? We've really got to take down those department stores and then I think Earth will be paralysed. No!

DT: You've talked about keying into childhood fears when writing an episode - what happened with Blink?

SM: Blink is basically that statues game isn't it? That Grandma's Footsteps game which I always found frightening. I know kids find it exciting and interesting. And if you can do the thing like we do at the end of the episode where you say "and every statue out there is secretly a Weeping Angel..."  Come on!  If you ask people to recall the moments they remember of Doctor Who as you've been doing, how often is it they remember the scary bit?

DT: Yeah.

SM: It's not that Doctor Who is scary that often, but its the bit that somehow sticks in people's minds. I think its the showbiz element of Doctor Who, the bit that no-one else does...

First transmission: 9 June 2007, BBC3

For more information about Doctor Who Confidential, visit the BBC website.

 

DOCTOR WHO - The Official BBC Website

click here to visit the old version of the website

  SM.net will be celebrating Press Gang throughout 2012, but we are still suffering significant delays in delivering our new content, due to a certain Mr Mathews absconding with our passwords and petty cash, and muttering something unintelligible about crunchy credits...

  However, we'd like you to share the vole, so please feel free to email lynda@juniorgazette.net with your memories of Press Gang. We will publish our favourites on the site. The Editor's decision is final!

VOLE, SPIKE, BLINK & PING have all been adopted by StevenMoffat.net to support I CAN.

 

 

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