Doctor Who TCA update

Today BBC America presented a Doctor Who panel for the Television Critics Association. Stars Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman were only available via satellite from the set, but writer/executive producer Steven Moffat was here in person. After the panel, Moffat answered follow-up questions from reporters, including some details about the possibility of a female Doctor, and the character guest star Maisie Williams will play. She will be different from Arya Stark for sure.

(Some vague spoilers for recent Doctor Who episodes are ahead.)

“I would say she’s very different but I can’t really say much about it,” Moffat said. “I’m really excited about what Maisie gets to do in the show but it’ll take you a moment or two as you watch it to realize what we’re up to.”

On the panel, Moffat spoke about casting Michelle Gomez as Missy, who is the first female incarnation of The Master. During follow-ups, he elaborated on the progressive gender take.

“The key thing about changing the Master to Missy was that the Doctor doesn’t react to it at all,” Moffat said. “He just carries on talking. He’s shocked that she’s there. He doesn’t say anything about the fact she’s a woman. So clearly that’s a very big statement. That’s just a thing that happens.”

This became part of a larger discussion on the possibility of having a female Doctor, not that we want to see Peter Capaldi leave any time soon. “We always say ‘a woman playing the Doctor’ [but] no one ever says ‘a man playing the Doctor,’” Moffat said.

The producer elaborated on that topic:

Most men would be rubbish as the Doctor. There are very, very few people who can do that part. I think it is necessary to expand what the show can do all the time, because that’s why it’s alive. I’m not making it inevitable and I’m not preventing it. I’m just saying it’s possible. In my head, rationally it seems to me, you know how human beings are never completely male or female. You’re mostly a woman, I’m mostly a man. Maybe a male Time Lord is someone who most of his regenerations are male. Maybe he’ll have a couple of female. The science fiction of that would make sense to me. Otherwise life might be a little complicated. I wish sometimes that the politics of that would take a backseat and talk about the art, because it’s not really about that. It’s just about would it work. When it will work is when somebody says, ‘that person would be amazing.’ The most conservative, most traditional member of the audience says, ‘Oh God yes. I hate the idea of a lady Doctor but that one would be great.’ That’s what you want.

What qualities would that woman need to have to garner that reaction? “Carved out of solid star and someone who you can’t take your eyes off, not because they’re beautiful,” Moffat said. “Just somebody who’s face is so fascinating.”

The return of Coleman means that Clara has embraced life on the TARDIS, as Coleman said via satellite. Later, Moffat said that her splintering through time will have subtle ramifications.

“She’ll have dreams about it,” Moffat said. “It’s one of those things, if I put it in an episode, most of the audience will have forgotten now and go what the hell are you talking about? In my mind she has dreams. She has a vague awareness that there was other stuff but not very clear at all.”

Moffat also said that there is less of a serialized mystery this season. “This is, I would say, one of the lighter [mysteries],” he said. “I’d say the story this time, because I thought it worked last year rather well, the main story is the emotional. Clara has now decided that the TARDIS is her real life and that’s what she loves and loves running around in the TARDIS with the Doctor and getting into scrapes. The more dangerous the better. She’s becoming like him.”

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