It’s the end of an era as Christmas Day saw the final episode of not only Peter Capaldi, but also showrunner Steven Moffat. Can we believe that Steven Moffat has been in the showrunner hot seat since 2010? During that time he has had his detractors but has produced some of the most mind-blowing moments in the long history of Doctor Who.
Here, Blogtor Who writers reveal their favourite Moffat moments from the last eight years.
Moffat has so many stand out moments but the big one for me will forever be Eleven’s Regeneration speech.
Nowhere has the combination of exhilarating and frustrating been so perfectly embodied as in the 50th Anniversary special The Night of the Doctor. Featuring Eighth Doctor (and fellow scouser) Paul McGann in a completely unexpected move from Moffat, The Night of the Doctor was a sublime seven minutes in which we saw all of the brilliant Big Finish work and companions brought home to the main storyline. We also had a small insight into just how utterly compelling McGann would have been had he had the chance to do more. My heart could still break at the perfect yet devastatingly brief glimpse of this iteration of our favourite time traveller from Gallifrey.
It goes without saying that 2013 was a great time to be a Doctor Who fan. The fiftieth anniversary was always going to be a big day for the series. But the fact it’d been revived for a new audience meant expectations were as high and varied as they’d ever been. By the time Steven Moffat took on the role of showrunner, it was clear that he’d have the reins for the seemingly-impossible task of pleasing everyone.
As creative lead and executive producer, the 50th anniversary year he delivered was the best celebration of the show we could possibly have had. ‘The Day of the Doctor’ was merely the centrepiece in a long list of Doctor Who projects that paid tribute to different eras of the series. The fact that Steven Moffat was willing to work beyond simply the anniversary episode itself proves that he was a showman of a showrunner.
Plus he gave us John Hurt as the Doctor that year.
It’s easy to forget when getting wrapped up in high concept sci-fi ideas and following the mythology of the show that at its heart Doctor Who is for children. Doctor Who is at it’s best and most memorable when it brings scares to that audience, and also providing a poignant reason for doing so.
In the episode Listen I believe this is achieved in the most beautiful and concise way. The Doctor explores his own childhood nightmares – the monster under the bed. An eerie atmosphere is built up throughout the opening of the episode, and it all leads to child’s bedroom. Here, it is the unknown that becomes truly terrifying. A bedsheet that moves provides the scares in the same way a sheet on the beach is terrifying in the M. R . James adaptation Whistle and I’ll Come to You. Sometimes it’s the simple things that stick in the memory.
In the middle of this fear the Doctor appears, as he usually does in these situations, and he delivers my favourite Doctor Who speech of all time. Quintessential to Doctor Who is the advice that “Scared is a superpower.”
And this scene keeps the fear present by never revealing what is under the sheet. We all remain in fear, we all remain scared. And that’s lucky because that affords us all a superpower. Reinforcing the message to its audience that it is OK to be afraid. The final reveal that this is what has spurred the Doctor on is beautiful.
He may have a lot of critics, but there’s no denying that Steven Moffat has had an extraordinary impact on Doctor Who’s past, present, and future. There are so many incredible moments from his time working on the series – both before and during his tenure as showrunner – that it’s almost impossible to single out a favourite. There’s the Weeping Angels in Blink. The iconic shot of the Doctors on the cloud in The Day of the Doctor. The Doctor and Davros’ verbal sparring in The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar. But if I had to pick just one, it would have to be the magnum opus that is Heaven Sent. Never has a Doctor Who episode been more different, more bold, or more brilliant than this. It was a corker of a script that only gets better and better every time you watch it. Harrowing and gothic, but with a strong message of hope in the cold face of grief. Considering there’s only one (and a bit) speaking parts in the whole thing, that’s not bad going! It’s a story that could only have come from the genius mind of Steven Moffat. Add in Peter Capaldi and Rachel Talalay’s talents too and you’ve truly got yourself a work of art. An episode like nothing we’d ever seen before, or likely ever will again. But that’s fine. Not every episode can be, nor should be, like Heaven Sent – and that’s what makes it special.
Steven Moffat’s tenure at the helm of Doctor Who has been tumultuous. There have been highs but also some lows. The achievement of delivering the 50th Anniversary Special ‘The Day of the Doctor’ has to go down as one of the great successes of his career. For me however, it was his debut episode, relaunching the show and introducing us to the Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, which will stand out in my memory. I recall sitting down to watch ‘The Eleventh Hour’ and being utterly blown away by it. Somehow it was the same show that I had been a fan of for 18 years but yet it felt completely different.
Any doubts about a young Matt Smith evaporated. A sassy Karen Gillan proved to be a star on the rise. Yes, the story is a bit ropey but it was mesmerising to watch. It was fresh. It had a vibrancy and an energy which I had not seen from the show before. If certain individuals doubted that Doctor Who could be successful without Russell T Davies and David Tennant’s incarnation of the Time Lord then those fears were allayed from the outset. Over the next few years the Steven Moffat era of the show became a global hit, epitomised by the simulcast of ‘The Day of the Doctor’ all over the world. Doctor Who had never been bigger and that all began with the momentum created by ‘The Eleventh Hour’.