There are few constants in Doctor Who besides the fans, the blue box, and that thirst for exploration and heroism, but Steven Moffat just about qualifies. A writer during Russell T Davies’ tenure as showrunner and the lead producer and head writer of the show since 2010, it would be hard to argue that Moffat (who is set to exit alongside star Peter Capaldi and longtime producer Brian Minchin after this season) hasn’t left his mark on the show, but in our interview with he and Minchin, he does exactly that. Or, more accurately, he takes issue with the notion that one can (or should try to) leave their mark on something like Doctor Who.
Beyond matters dealing with their behind-the-scenes legacy, Moffat and Minchin also discuss the return of the ’60s Cybermen, the arrival of the Doctor’s new companion (and the excitement of writing for a new character), whether it’s easier for a new showrunner to start with a new Doctor, and what Moffat wants, as a fan, from incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall’s looming pick for the Doctor.
How did the idea of bringing back the ’60s style Cybermen come about?
Moffat: I always liked those ones. And I never took it that seriously, but he [Minchin] kept saying that he thought they were the best ones and I preferred the metal-faced ones. But I did have a look at it and I thought there was something we could do that would make them look spooky and interesting, and there was a story coming up in which they fit. So that’s how it came about. I mean, obviously, I think if we tried this 10 years ago people would’ve laughed at it, but there’s something sort of retro and right about them now that makes it work.
Are there any other favorites that are coming back this season that people haven’t seen in a long, long time?
Moffat: Well, I mean obviously there are things I’m not going to tell you and things I can’t remember, but we have Ice Warriors. We have Ice Warriors. You haven’t seen them for a couple years.
What about familiar faces? Any friends of the Doctor? Anything like that to look forward to this season? [Note: This conversation took place before news about John Simm’s return broke.]
I can’t get you to say anyone specific, right?
Minchin: This is really the story of Bill (Pearl Mackie) and the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Nardole (Matt Lucas). The series is gonna be set around the new companion, around the Doctor’s relationships so it’s about their adventures and what they do. Obviously, there will be other bits as well, but the main thing is gonna be Bill and she’s fantastic.