back to article Steven Moffat promises 'darker' Doctor Who

Steven Moffat has teased that the forthcoming new series of Doctor Who will kick off with episodes "darker than any other opener of a season". Speaking to journalists at the launch of the the new episodes, Moffat said: "We've been pretty dark before in Doctor Who. But we're coming in from the dark side just because we haven't …


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  1. lurker

    Soap Opera

    I'd rather he promised less 'emo'. I don't really care about the doctor's emotional involvement with his various assistants, or their attachments to their families/boyfriends/whatever. More science fiction, less soap opera, please.

    I suspect I'm in the minority, however.

    1. PrivateCitizen
      Thumb Up

      No Minority

      I agree, 100%.

    2. Steve X
      Thumb Up


      No matter what physical age the current 'body' might be, he's supposed to be 800+ years old. The relationships with the assistants should only be on paternalistic lines. They're all children to him, as are their families.

      And, Please <insert Deity>, don't bring back Billy Piper or Catherine Tate again. Ever.

      1. Fr Barry


        Catherine Tate

    3. Kamal Hashmi

      a title

      Er... yeah.

      You do realise that they no longer like to admit that Dr Who is Science Fiction? (*)

      All the emo stuff is to satisfy the critics who want to see a more 'real' story.

      (*) The critic's criterion is "If I happened to read/watch it and liked it then it can't be SF, but I'll make up some other excuse". (**)

      (**) See - there are many other examples.

      1. BorkedAgain

        Well, it's kind of soft sci-fi at best...

        ...but it's probably the best that Mainstream can handle; I personally don't have a problem with exploring the impact something like the Doctor would have on a "normal" person's worldview and relationships (I liked that exploration of Rose's relationships with her mother, boyfriend, dead Dad etc for example) as long as we can avoid becoming mawkish.

        I do like the dark feel from the trailers, though, and my young son is as excited as I am (but more able to express his excitement due to social mores etc) as long as we can keep the metrosexual Daleks out for the time being...

  2. John Ruddy

    Story arc - again?

    Is anyone else getting fed up of these constant story arc things?

    1. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Down

      Story arc - again?

      So you'd prefer a whole bunch of episodes where what happens this week has nothing to do with what happened last week and will be forgotten by next week?

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        I'd prefer

        what happened last week to have happened a billion years ago and half a universe away. When you can go anywhere and tell any story story arcs become an encumbrance and a contrivance. Continuity's fine - the show's always has that - but lately it's become a fetish that's getting in the way of good storytelling.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Story arcs

          Since day 1 Doctor Who has had story arcs, previously they were 2-3 hours each, but you can't just have them materialise in an exciting new place, spend 15 minutes introducing the setting, 15 minutes introducing all the characters and then having around 12 minutes for plot. Not gonna work.

          They managed it on Star Trek partly because you already knew 90% of the characters in an episode and partly because they didn't care about keeping characters constant anyway.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More Abzorbaloff, please.

    Nothing darker than Peter Kay playing a fat northern alien.

    OK I'm kidding. No Absorbaloff, please. Davros would be find, though, or Derek Jacobi's Master - but no John Sim! Good an actor as he may be, I just thought "what is Bernard from New Order doing in Dr Who?"

  4. Anonymous Coward

    "If you run for 13 weeks you can start to feel as though you can miss one episode and it'll be okay"

    Of course it's okay to miss one...that's why the IPlayer was invented.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      ......but completely screwing you over in such circumstances is what IP geolocation was invented for. Handing the shaft to the utter fucktards behind that particular piece of stupidity is what BitTorrent was invented for.....

      Expat FWIW. Thank fuck that nobody's figured out how to stop a satellite signal from crossing an arbitrary line drawn on a map eh?

      1. Citizen Kaned

        let me get this right...

        you bitch that you cant view it from outside the UK.

        i take it you are still paying £150 a year like the rest of us then? where you live you can probably buy BBC stuff cheaper than in the UK anyway

        1. anarchic-teapot

          @Citizen Kaned

          "i take it you are still paying £150 a year like the rest of us then? where you live you can probably buy BBC stuff cheaper than in the UK anyway"

          Cue steam from ears.

          We're not given the option to pay to see BBC stuff online. Even the trailers are off-limits, for crying out loud. I certainly would quite happily pay, being one of those weirdos who believes people should always be remunerated for doing a good job.

          And buying BBC stuff abroad (I assume you mean DVDs and so forth) is nio cheaper than in the UK. Postage is often expensive, and the exchange rates are always tipped to favour the vendor.

          Happy now?


          Citizen Erased

      2. Steve X

        satellite signals

        > nobody's figured out how to stop a satellite signal from crossing an arbitrary line drawn on a map

        They're not far off, look at the Ka-band Irish Freesat proposal for details. Tiny spotbeams, with frequencies reused in each spot :(

    2. Rob Moir

      Missing one episode isn't ok?

      Since that massive tool Moffat took over, I've missed considerably more than one episode and it still feels OK to me.

      He's trying *way* too hard, "his" doctor is mis-cast (I don't blame the actor for that, he's trying his best but lacks the gravitas to carry the part) and frankly if he spent half as much time on good writing and editing as he spent going on about how different his era will be from RTD's and how his stuff will be "darker" (as if that's a magic paint that guarantees a better story somehow!) then his episodes would be a good deal more watch-able.

  5. Andrew Wigglesworth
    Thumb Up


    @ lurker ... yes

    @ John Ruddy ... yes

  6. Gulfie

    How scary, exactly?

    A fair percentage of kids are playing their parents (or their own) 18-rated FPS games. How scary will it have to get for them to hide behind the sofa? Or is some middle-class North London definition of scary I've not been told about yet?

    Cybermen had to be the ultimate scare really, a humanoid form with no emotion. Sofa every time.

    1. Raumkraut
      Paris Hilton

      "Horror" does not mean scary

      Most FPS games are less scary than a badly carved pumpkin. Why? Because the player has an arsenal of firearms which you use to blow the "scary" (ie. ugly) things away.

      Film and TV programmes can be scarier because you, as the passive viewer, are powerless to do anything about what happens.

      Not to say that FPS games can't be scary. Just thinking about playing Amnesia makes me uncomfortable. Why? Because here again you don't have any weapons, and are generally powerless against anything you might meet around the corner.

      Paris, because now I'm thinking about Amnesia, and need a hug.

    2. Raced

      Depends on the kids I would have thought ...

      ... my daughter is 5 and loves watching Doctor Who. The recent episode with the Vampires of Venice is the only one she asked to turn off and watch another time. She also watches the Sarah Jane spin off but out of the two its the Doctor and the "scary aliens" as she puts it that she loves to watch the most.

      It has to be a fine balance. You start to introduce genuine scares in there then the show gets pushed back behind the watershed potentially losing the younger audience.

  7. MegC

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    Personally I thought the statues (angels?) were the scariest episodes of the new dr who's so far... Blink and its follow up were generally quite freaky.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      Blink is boss.

      1. seanj

        Re: The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

        Blink is indeed boss, but that next story with the Weeping Angels was terrible... Angel Bob? Smeg off!

      2. Tom 38

        @Sarah Bee

        The 60's called, they want their catch-phrase back.

        Last time I heard something was 'boss' was - well, last Saturday, was watching American Graffiti. Is it making a come back?

    2. Willington

      Re: Meg C

      Blink was a superb episode but I thought the angels were the weakest thing about it. A bit silly really, quantum entities who turn to stone when you look at them? They wouldn't survive me with a bag full of amphetamines, a torch strapped to my head and a sledgehammer for more than a few minutes. The excellent thing about Blink was the wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff which was some of the best time travel related SF I'd seen on TV for ages.

      The follow up was too silly for words. It seemed to me that the writers, knowing how popular Blink had been, had tried to cash in on it's success but missed the point entirely.

    3. Chris 3

      The one with the children and gas masks

      were pretty scary, IMHO.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up


        Blink and The Empty Child: my kid had nightmares for weeks after.

        He still says they are the best episodes :D

        1. rhdunn
          Thumb Up

          What about...?

          Midnight is another scary episode (along with Blink and The Empty Child) -- scary because of the isolation and psychological horror/mind games aspects.

          1. Graham Marsden
            Thumb Up

            Keep Calm...

            ... and Don't Blink!

        2. MJI Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          All from the Moff

          The current show runner

      2. SirTainleyBarking

        Are you my mummy?


    4. durandal

      Blink is win

      But it must have become 'kin tedious for those jobbing actors dressed up as statues...

      'ere, mate! Blink! Blink n ur dead, innit!

  8. Matthew Smith
    Dead Vulture

    I didn't understand the finale of the last series...

    ... with Big Bang 2.0 and all (Did we learn why the Tardis is exploding?). But the gist seemed to kill off all the previous story arcs and start over. So why is River and apparently James Corden still around?

    I'm selecting the tombstone icon, cos it might simply be I'm too old at 36.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All probably part...

      ... of a bigger story arc.

      Remember earlier on last season, people were pointing to what was percieved to be a continuty error early on in the series, when the doctors jacket disappeared, then in the last episode it all made sense, because the jacketless doctor went back into his own timeline and interacted with the characters (or was it he was wearing the jacket when he went back to his jacketless past, i forget now)

      Same will hapen with the Big Bang. It was stopped (for now) but we'll still to find out why it happenned.

      I also predict we'll find out about the Tardis hidden behind a perception field in that upstairs flat, which seemed to respond to the Doctor, oh and I'm still awaiting an explanation from that Blue Grass episode, why their future selves were stood across the fields waving back.

      The Moff seems to be good at little arcs within big arcs, and seems to lay seeds in episodes that in future episodes become "oh now that makes sense" moments. I wouldn't be surprised if we're seeing a 3-4 year arc a'la B5. At the end of it they'll send a space station back in time, to start it all off again :p

    2. Ian Bush

      Re: I didn't understand the finale of the last series...

      > ... with Big Bang 2.0 and all (Did we learn why the Tardis is exploding?)

      It was jump started by Lister

    3. Keith 21
      Thumb Up

      Questions, questions, always questions!

      "(Did we learn why the Tardis is exploding?). "

      No, we didn't.

      They made that quite explicitly clear, that the cause of the TARDIS exploding, why it was dragged to that point in space/time, and wtf the Silence is, are all still completely unknown.

      Nor do we (or the Doc) understand why Amy knew nothing of the Daleks before meeting the ones with Churchill - more mysteries to be explained at some stage, as was pointed out in that very episode.

      "But the gist seemed to kill off all the previous story arcs and start over."

      No, it wasn't.

      It didn't reset the universe, it simply brought the universe back to how it was before everything was destroyed. So no Big Reset Switch (that was RTD's style).

      There's a lot more to this overall story, I would tend to agree with those who are speculating a multi-season arc rather than just a 1 series arc (a la woeful Bad Wolf crap), and if so, Bring It On!

  9. Shadowfirebird

    Less stupid, please

    I don't care about more scary. Just have it make some vague sort of sense.

    Also, Smith is a good actor but he's no Tennant. Asking him to do an impression of Tennant, but even *more* manic -- that's truly dumb.

  10. ADJB

    Real Life?

    "Cybermen had to be the ultimate scare really, a humanoid form with no emotion."

    Like say.... Parking Wardens, Council Officials, Tax Collectors, Bank Managers.......

  11. NightFox
    Thumb Down

    Will They Ever Learn?

    "You put the jokes in and the silly bits in for the adults"

    Oh dear.

  12. E 2

    Those are the current Dr. Who characters?!

    I admit I only ever watched the show in the 80's or maybe very early 90's. The then Doctor was rather tall and had a big head of hair and was eccentric - very much a Brit. it was a fun & funny show.

    That guy in the cowboy hat reminds me of Micky Knox, for God's sake!

  13. Pen-y-gors


    How can you miss one? Every episode is transmitted at least 19 times on various BBC channels during the first week or two after initial broadcast, (along with 11 repeats of 'Dr Who Confidential') and then at least 3 times a week on BBC 3 for the next decade.

    And isn't a series of 13 episodes with a big break in the middle actually just two short series?

    1. unitron

      How can you miss one?

      Easy. Live in the U.S. where you're at the mercy of your state's PBS network and/or the Syfy (whatever they're calling it now) Channel, and your local cable monopoly.

      The last thing I saw he was running around in the kind of tennis shoes basketball players wore in the '50s and Donna Noble had been made permanently amnesiacal or something.

      I've heard rumours that there's a separate Torchwood series, any truth to that?

      How come there's no TARDIS icon?

      1. chr0m4t1c


        Three series of Torchwood.

        Have you seen Ghostbusters? Pretty much the same, but set in Cardiff but with more sex and death (not always in that order).

        It had some potential, but the writers repeatedly painted themselves into a corner by dramatically killing one of the core team and then having some kind of alien tech resurrect them.

        If you don't do stuff like that, you have to repeatedly replace the team members, which is tricky when your usual recruitment method is to bump into someone in a nightclub and then find out they're an undiscovered genius. Also, as they would have gone through something like 100 team members a year, it would almost certainly be impossible to keep the secret organisation a secret.

        Ultimately the whole thing collapsed under its own weight and ended with an extended story that (guess what!) killed off most of the main characters. There are rumours of a fourth series, but I don't know how they'll re-populate the team. No, wait, I know exactly how they'll re-populate the team.

  14. Leona A
    Thumb Up

    Can not wait

    for the new series looks great, love the 'scariness' and all the 'funny bits for the adults' its all there, sadly, I'll have to record it to watch on my own or else my partner will be hiding under a cushion, or behind the sofa, as she's a big 'scaredy cat' !

    1. frank ly

      re. 'scaredy cat'

      Is she a cat-nun who looks after sick people?

  15. David Austin


    Moffat is the man who came up with "Are You My Mummy", "Don't Blink", and "Hay, who turned out the lights?" before he was showrunner.

    I totally trust this man to create that eerie, creepy feeling I love in Doctor Who. Can't Wait.

    In fact the only thing I've seen so far that I don't like is James Corden. Fat =/= Funny.

  16. Craig 28

    I miss the old days

    I feel the short episodes don't have the same meat to them as the old stories, which were one story split into several parts. Sure its a bitch waiting for the next ep but when you finally get it on DVD or in an omnibus repeat, you're glued for the whole thing.

    Then again I always did have an abnormally long attention span. Of course the other advantage to this is fewer stories means you can drop the weaker story ideas and focus on the really good ones.

    1. Kerry Hoskin

      old school

      I prefered the old format to, give me 4 or 6 part episodes like the old school Dr Who

  17. JimC

    I can remember hiding behind the sofa for the very first Dr Who

    ... never really got round to every watching it regularly since, which is odd as I loved Star Trek.

  18. DrStrangeLug

    Dont break it in two!

    Seriously, stop halfway through until the Autumn?

    "Oh look, battlestar stopped for half a season every year, that must be why they won all those awards!"

    1. ArmanX
      Thumb Down

      Interesting point:

      US shows that have that big break halfway through also have 20-25 shows in a season... a nice break between, and you can actually have a mid-season cliffhanger. However, that is 10-13 episodes per *half* season.

      Half of a 13 episode season is barely over a month of weekly shows. It's not a nice break to keep people coming back for more, it's more of a huge gap that makes people give up for lack of interest...

      1. Tom 38

        Re: Interesting point

        Depends on the network. SyFy* produce a number of shows with 13 episode runs, some of which are split over the christmas break, where I think they just show re-runs.

        * God I hate that name.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Actually Doctor Who was winning them

      With Moffatt penned shows

  19. JDX Gold badge

    re: scary...

    18-rated FPS games are rated for gore and violence, not suspense. That's why you can make scary PG films.

    Adults play FPS games and are still scared by Cybermen.

  20. FreeTard
    Thumb Up


    Come on, when were Cybermen ever scary?

    The only one that was scary was "Blink", but only the first one, the other shows with the moving statues were not.

    Mega sad at David Tennant "death", even had a tear in my eye.

    But really like the new lad now, and Amy is well fit.

    Good choice, definitely a 10.

  21. Banther dodo
    Thumb Up

    Jaffa alert

    Looks as if the doctor likes his gingers

  22. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Dr. Who vs. the Neocons?

    Hell yeah!

  23. Nick Ryan Silver badge


    Gave up (seriously) watching Dr Who when they decided to cast as many rubber faced goons as possible as the Doctor. Daft sidekicks have often been a part of the series make up though. Just something that doesn't appear to be want to be yet another lame karate kicking sword fighting pointless Hollywood-style movie remake would be a fine start.

    In any case, the scariest thing about some of the older Dr Whos was wondering whether or not the set would collapse on the actors...

  24. Lloyd

    James Corden

    Is the episode he's in one where he's slowly bled to death by a series of increasingly nasty paper cuts? Because I'd watch that, but he's as much of a pull as Catherine Tate, I'd rather eat my own sick than watch it.

  25. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Controlling humanity sublimely with futuristic media tales for Real SMART 21st Century Networking

    "The four, "aided by President Nixon and Neil Armstrong's foot", battle "an alien force who control humanity through post-hypnotic suggestion"." ....... Hmmm? Is that a present and current fact or just thought and played as a fiction?

    Have the BBC finally found their balls/brains?

  26. Criminny Rickets
    Black Helicopters


    Personally, I wish they would get rid of Karen Gillan. Amy Pond is just too darn whiny and annoying. Keep River Song and Rory, but get rid of Amy Pond. River Song would make a great companion for him. She's smart, as her own agenda, isn't whiny at all, makes the Doctor think and yet is also there to help him when he needs it. Rory has his moments, but for the most part has proven to be an able companion as well.

    1. Alex C
      Thumb Down


      Um no - Amy Pond is the first decent companion the Doctor's had in ages. Not only is she hawt, but also funny, clever and thankfully they're friendly rather than mooning over each other. Nothing not to like there so long as they keep her feelings pretty superficial.

  27. Gordon Barret

    Don't split it up

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You can't split it up into two sections you fu*ktard!!

    There's only one thing more infuriating than these damn celebutards like Katie Price trying to be seen on tv every day and that's when excellent programs in a series are split up into two sections!

    They do this with Stargate and Fringe - we don't want it with Doctor Who as well!!

    His thinking is flawed in this - just because there is a series of, say, 13 episodes it does not follow that you may think its ok to miss one, but if you have two smaller series of 6 and 7 episodes then you wont think that. Utter coswallop!

    It's far more likely to be the opposite - if you've seen the first half of the series and then have to wait for a few weeks you are far more likely to forget about it during this break, and mis the first episode.


  28. Johnny Canuck

    This is not a title

    I actually thought "The Waters of Mars" was pretty good. Especially poignant was David Tennant's speech from the airlock trying to convince the commander to let him leave. Blink was pretty good too, but the scariest part was the intro/preview thingy where the Dr. says "Don't blink. Blink and you're dead. Don't turn your back. Don't look away. And don't blink".

    1. T J

      The Wartards of Marrrrs

      Sorry old boy just have to pull you up there.

      The Waters Of Mars was in fact not good. It was terrible, and very embarassing.

      I think you are mistaking it for...... anything at all that RTD had absolutely nothing to do with.

  29. Anonymous John

    Look on the bright side.

    The gap between the two sections will be filled by Torchwood

    1. ArmanX

      Wait, that's a bright side?

      Torchwood had a few good moments, but the most recent series was indescribably bad. I've tried to describe how bad it was, but was reduced to feebly waving my arms and gaping like a drowning fish.

  30. Dick Emery


    I like Doctor Who but think it suffers too much from pandering to the ADD crowd. They try to cram in SOOOOOO much in each episode it can become one chaotic mess of action, quips, more action, more one liners interspersed with a few interesting plot devices.

    Sloooooooow doooooooown FFS!

    A genuinely engaging storyline that is good sci-fi rather than lol drama set on bloody Earth most of the time is what is required. Still I guess they keep trying to make this a 'family' show. I know for a fact that the old series (before it's reboot) was not at all family friendly. It was the bastard child of the BBC that would often kick the can to the wall and be damned with being family friendly.

    Bring back the sci-fi! I don't give a crap about the shitty mundane lives of humans. It's depressing enough having to live it for real without it being shoved down my throat in a so called sci-fi show.

  31. Colin Bain

    Darker Doc

    I've always thought Matt Smith needed to be a darker doc. That would make him sufficiently diiferent from Tennant, who was great. Smith could be great too, but different. But definitely not stupid different like that great scots twerp! I simply refuse to waste brain cells remembering his name too.

  32. heyrick Silver badge

    Mind blowing and visually arresting

    Like, what, riding a chariot pulled by a shark through the sky just isn't good enough any more?!?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    To add my two pennyworth. I think a) we need to avoid all these "and in one bound he was free" type of lazy turnarounds of fortune in each story, writers should take the time to make the plot flow properly, and b) we need to ensure The Dr. is the good guy, we have had at least one episode (Family of Blood I believe) when the Doc's wrath seemed to show him in a totally inappropriate light.

  34. T J

    This better be an improvement Steven......

    This better be an improvement Mr. Moffat.

    You are currently on probation, especially after I vomited blood for 3 days after that Xmas Special. Oh it was special alright. Special the way that suddenly discovering you have Scurvy would be.

    You showed signs of promise, but sir, we all just ASSUMED that after you took over the helm the series would be come briliant, like the real Who! All Blink, all Empty Child, for gods' sakes all JEKYLL. This did not happen, and around about the time of the Candy Daleks there were spontaneous outbreaks of crying in public.

    You are on probation Steven Moffat. This better be an improvement.....

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: This better be an improvement Steven......

      Oooooo. Whaddya gonna do? Fire him?

      NB I suspect Moffat is not actually reading these comments, so if you want to address him you may wish to contact the BBC.

  35. Ooo-wait-BUT!
    Paris Hilton

    R U my mommy?

    ... still phuks me up something chronic to think about it.

    My favourite episode was the one where Billy Piper was abandoned on what I would call the 'right side' :o)

    All praise the 'wibbily wobbily timey stuff' scene - needs more of that kind of writing. Honestly, unless there are a small group of sycophantic adults saying stuff like, "seriously, you're gonna f**k up children if you scare 'em like that" then Dr Who is failing everyone.

    Paris is obsessed with the 'cracks in the universe'

  36. dreamingspire

    Are all of you commenting...

    ...too young to remember that steam radio series Journey Into Space. Really scary!

  37. Anonymous Coward

    It's a screwdriver.....

    ....not a f***ing magic wand!!!!!

    I haven't watched any DW since that second stone angels story. It was absolutely the last straw.

  38. Slim Chance

    Wobbly sets

    And gravel pits, that's what's missing on the Nu-Doctor.

    Whenever we get promised a re-vamp of a programme that will be darker it's always very average.

    Why don't the BBC admit that DW is now a soap and do crossovers with enders, oh they've done that, well how about casualty then? Nah, too many doctors.

    Got it, Doctor who in the night garden with the doctor as igglepiggle - perfect.

    1. BorkedAgain

      In the Night Garden

      You know, it occurred to me (a few years ago, when it came out) that, if we wanted to prepare a generation for the revelation that the Galaxy was inhabited and we were about to join their serried ranks, then in the Night Garden would be the ideal way to do it.

      Think about it; Igglepiggle (the protagonist, humanity) goes into the Night Garden (the night sky, where each star becomes a flower) and has adventures with all manner of different entities on various scales (intelligent transports, OCD rock-creature, the nurturing plant-lady, tiny-but-highly-influential swarm creatures, bouncing gasbags etc) all narrated by Ian Holm.

      Maybe I read too much sci-fi...

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