Former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has recently admitted that there was an error in one of his scripts that dates back to William Hartnell’s time as the First Doctor.
When Peter Capaldi came in to lead the show as the Twelfth incarnation of the titular Time Lord, there was concern that Matt Smith was a tough act to follow. Everyone knew that Capaldi was a stellar actor, mind you, but Moffat still had to set a different tone for the show and the legendary actor needed to cement himself as the Last of the Time Lords. “Listen,” a laudably acclaimed episode and Capaldi’s fifth appearance as 12 came out in 2014 and proved why the showrunner thought the actor was the perfect choice to become Smith’s successor. Even after so many years, season 8’s fourth episode ranks among one of the best things that Moffat has ever written. And that’s a high bar when you consider the likes of “Blink” and Heaven Sent.”
Still, that doesn’t mean the story is without its share of mistakes. As you may remember, “Listen” revolved around the Twelfth Doctor trying to fight a monster that plagued him since childhood. The episode ends on a statement from Clara that echoes one of William Hartnell’s lines as the First Doctor. She says, “Fear makes companions of us all.” But if you’re a fan of Classic Who, then you know that what Hartnell says is actually: “Fear makes companions of all of us.”
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Moffat absolutely loves the classic episodes and he’s always tried to cram in as many references to those eras as possible. During a recent watch-a-long of “Listen” though, the former EP acknowledged his mistake, revealing that he’s still hurting from getting it wrong.
“And in fact, I misquoted the line. Hartnell says “of all of us” and Jenna says “of us all.” Knew it was wrong, but couldn’t let go of the way I’d misremembered it for so long. Like, was the DG gonna fine me cos I misquoted Hartnell. Drunk with power, I was,” Moffat wrote on Twitter.
The writer also revealed that he intended the line as a love letter to the first time that the Doctor is nice to anyone on the show. Of course, as Doctor Who gaffes go, this isn’t even a remarkably important one, and it’s bound to happen when you have 50 years of continuity to take into account. But it’s safe to say that it doesn’t take anything away from our love for “Listen” and all its subtleties in exploring the Doctor’s character.