There’s going to be a little shake-up on the beloved BBC series Doctor Who this season. Showrunner Steven Moffat will step down after next year’s Christmas episode, and a new companion named Bill (played by the lovely Pearl Mackie) is introduced. Moffat, star Peter Capaldi, and Mackie sat down with Fandom to talk about the series, the future, and all things Doctor Who.
Farewell to Moffat
Moffat has been in charge of the Doctor Who-niverse since 2010. As the show’s main screenwriter and executive producer, he is the big man in charge when it comes to the series. Stepping down will prove difficult, but he doesn’t expect the sky to come crashing down, either.
“I’ll be very, very sad, but it’s not like I’m not used to the idea of Doctor Who going on without me – it did for a very long while before I showed up,” he said. “It’ll be sad I guess and a little bit odd for a moment, but then like most things in life it will become ordinary.”
He hasn’t given what he wants to do next too much thought, though he admits that his final day on Doctor Who is at least a year away. When asked what kinds of projects he would like to tackle after his final episode, he was quick to make jokes.
“Failure, despair, depression, a deep sense of despair and remorse, probably ending in a drunken gun siege. I don’t know. I would quite like to go on holiday. In my case, I have done nothing but Sherlock and Doctor Who since late 2008, that’s all I’ve written. Nothing else,” he said. “So I’m certainly in no way wanting to get rid of Doctor Who and I will miss it tremendously, but it will be interesting to see if I still can write something that isn’t one of those two shows. I’ve been loitering at the door for a painfully long time and then falling back in – I’m that person that just doesn’t know when to leave.”
A New Companion
This season will introduce a new companion for the Doctor – Bill, a complete newbie to the concept of the Doctor, the TARDIS, and all things Whovian.
“I think it’s interesting that she’s coming from a perspective that we haven’t seen for a while, which is that she has nothing whatsoever to do with the Doctor Who universe, at all,” Capaldi said. “So everything on the show is brand new to her. So I think that’s very invigorating for us and for the show, it means that we have to retell or tell afresh the whole story of the show and what it’s bits and pieces are.”
Mackie and Capaldi had instant chemistry, spotted by show producers during the audition process. Mackie was thankful that Bill was new to the universe, as she was blindsided by some of Capaldi’s antics. They read through the first scene sitting, but then Capaldi asked her if she wanted to stand up for the second. She agreed and what happened next threw her for a loop.
“It’s the scene where Bill first goes into the TARDIS, and (Capaldi)’s running back and forth pressing imaginary buttons and running around, and I’m just sort of standing there like oh my God,” she said. “Going through my head, “this is the maddest thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. What am I doing here, this is insane, I can’t believe it.” Thankfully that’s what Bill is supposed to be thinking in the scene. It was crazy.”
Capaldi looked forward to the way a new companion would influence the way he portrayed the Doctor.
“Any new character in a drama creates a new version of the other characters because we respond differently. So the Doctor responds differently to Bill than he would say, to Clara,” he said. “So that means that I have to find new ways of doing that, go to a new place, which is always exciting for me.”
Mackie and Capaldi have great chemistry, but their characters don’t always see eye-to-eye. They’re from completely different worlds, and that’s part of what the cast thinks makes this upcoming season so great.
“I think it’s a challenge. I think that’s why he likes her. He doesn’t necessarily react in the way you expect her to. She’s unpredictable. She’s fascinated by him and the way his mind works, she’s never met anyone like him,” Mackie said. “There’s a mutual respect and admiration and interest. They both stick to their guns, they present a challenge to each other in a very positive way.”