Former showrunner Steven Moffat steered Doctor Who through eight highly successful years from 2010 to 2017, but he still had a reputation as being something of a divisive figure in the fandom. As always with this show, a subset of viewers often complained about episodes penned by the writer, who’s also known as the co-creator of Sherlock. But the Twelfth Doctor himself, Peter Capaldi, has now leapt to his old boss’ defense.
While attending Fan Expo Boston, the Scottish star – who was Moffat’s second leading man on the series, following Matt Smith’s tenure as the Eleventh Doctor – opened up about the production process of Doctor Who. Among other things, he revealed that Moffat typically worked hard on episodes that he was never even credited on.
“The writer’s name that appears at the start [of an episode] isn’t always the writer that did the best work. Because Steven’s job is to get that show on every week, his job is to make sure that there are scripts that are exciting and interesting and fascinating and funny… and sometimes the writer whose name you see [on-screen] didn’t deliver a script that was so great. The person that has to sit up all night and make that script work is Steven.”
The actor then went on to say that this means Moffat critics often praised episodes that he actually heavily rewrote.
“Steven will not take credit for the incredible jobs he did on some other writers’ things, and some of the incredible invention that he brought some scripts that were in trouble. A lot of people who have negative things to say about Steven do not have a clue… about the stories and the scripts that he did, many of which those same people love. He’s an incredible writer.”
Capaldi and Moffat are close friends, of course, with the exec producer not even auditioning anyone else for the role of the Twelfth Doctor. The star’s also good pals with Moffat’s Sherlock writing partner, Mark Gatiss. In fact, Capaldi’s appearing in Gatiss’ new BBC ghost story, coming this Christmas.
Since Moffat left the show, Chris Chibnall has taken over the reins. Much like the Moff though, despite Chibnall relaunching Doctor Who in a bold new way with Jodie Whittaker as Doctor No. 13, many have criticized his writing and are calling for him to leave. Maybe we should just accept that the BBC knows who’s the best person for the job though and appreciate that the showrunners work incredibly hard behind the scenes.