David Tennant talks filming ‘Doctor Who’ 50th anniversary show: ‘It was everything I hoped’



On those rare occasions when current and past stars of Doctor Who filmed episodes together the air has sometimes turned a tad chilly. But “Tenth Doctor” David Tennant says there were no such problems when, earlier this year, he and his TARDIS successor Matt Smith shot this November’s special 50th anniversary show.

“I suppose you’d expect me to say we’re new best friends and I love him like a brother,” the Scottish actor tells EW. “But that is sort of how it was. I had a fantastic time and that wouldn’t necessarily have been the case. I’m coming back onto a show that’s effectively somebody else’s show and used to be mine and that’s potentially quite a weird situation to be in. Going back to something I knew so well and had such fun memories of might have backfired. It’s a quite rare set of circumstances: Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig don’t get to play James Bond next to each other. But actually it felt familiar enough that it was like coming home and working with Matt proved to be a real joy. I hope I’m speaking for him when I say we really enjoyed bouncing of each other and playing sort of two aspects of the same character. It was everything that I hoped it might be and nothing that I feared it could be.”

The special 50th anniversary show — which also stars Jenna Coleman, Billie Piper, and John Hurt — will be broadcast on BBC America, Nov. 23. Tennant is currently starring in the BBC America crime drama Broadchurch, the trailer for which you can see below.

Steven Moffat: Interview


Steven Moffat


Words by Matthew Bell

This year’s Special Award recipient was never in any doubt about what he wanted to be when he grew up. As a child, he loved TV’s Doctor Who and devoured Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books. He even wrote his own version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella Jekyll and Hyde.

“I never really had any other ambition and I was always very clear that I wanted to be a scriptwriter,” reveals Steven Moffat, who, of course, went on to write Doctor Whoand Jekyll, and create (with Mark Gatiss) Sherlock.

Moffat‘s big break in TV came in 1989 on ITV’s BAFTA-winning teen drama, Press Gang, for which he wrote all 43 episodes. More than two decades later, having penned hundreds of hours of drama, this most prolific of writers is now the showrunner (creative head) of the BBC’s two biggest dramas, Doctor Who and Sherlock.

Moffat’s early work mined his own experiences: a stint as a teacher for Press Gang and BBC1 school-based farce Chalk; and the ups and downs of his relationships in the BBC sitcoms Joking Apart and Coupling. Is it important to write about what you know? “I was a teacher once so I wrote about teaching; I was going through the terror and the triumph of dating so I wrote about that,” he replies.

“Every writer writes about what they’ve personally been through, just because that’s what’s to hand. I don’t know if it’s an important rule of thumb – you should tell the story that most animates you. But I think it’s important to not make a mistake like writing Chalk,” he adds.

“Chalk didn’t work, although there were some very good people involved,” Moffat recalls. The early signs were promising. “Of any sitcom I’ve ever witnessed being made, and I’ve seen loads of them like Men Behaving Badly and The Vicar of Dibley,Chalk had the biggest laughs on the night. As a piece of theatre it was brilliant in the studio – people came back every week; the audiences were rapturous. The trouble was when I watched the tape at home, it was far too loud and raucous [for TV],” he says.

“The second series was commissioned before the first went out and they didn’t have time to cancel it. There’s no feeling on earth like working on a show that you know is doomed and already tanking.”


“I’ve always been much more passionate about television than movies and I don’t particularly want to be a foreigner. I‘d rather work here – working in British television is pretty cool.”



Writing comedy is a tricky business. Coupling, which followed Chalk, was a hit with both critics and viewers. Yet while making it, Moffat had a few shaky moments. “When we filmed the best ever show we did for Coupling – half of which was in Hebrew – the audience kept leaving on the night; I was barely getting laughs at all,” he recalls. “We moved the episode later in the run because we assumed that it was terrible, but when it came out it was the show that put us on the map.”

When Coupling ended after four series, Moffat jumped genres, writing episodes for the regenerated Doctor Who, including ‘Blink,’ which won him a BAFTA in 2008, and a modern-day version of Jekyll for BBC1.

“After many years of doing comedy, and rather farce-based comedy at that, it looks like a leap, but it didn’t particularly feel like one,” he recalls. “People talk grandly about range, but the truth is that you’re just writing.”

As a writer, Moffat prefers the end result to the process: “I love having written and getting a good show out there. I think it would be overstating things a little to say I love the actual writing.”

His advice to would-be scriptwriters is “just write. The big break is easy if you’re good enough. I hear people saying, ‘I’m desperate to write – I’ve written this script.’ And I want to say: ‘Why haven’t you written 50 scripts?’

“The first 50 will be shit and so will the next 50 and probably the 50 after that,” he continues. “You have to write all the time and not worry so much about going to the right parties or the contacts you have in the business – they’re completely irrelevant. And stop badgering people for advice because there almost is none – If you write a truly brilliant script, it will get on the telly.”

Doctor Who returns this autumn and Sherlock next year, and Moffat has no plans to move on. “The moment it’s time to stop on a show is not an ambiguous feeling – you just suddenly think, ‘I can’t do it anymore; I’ve had enough’,” he says.

Moffat has dipped into Hollywood, co-writing the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’sThe Adventures of Tintin: “I left it early and handed over to Edgar [Wright] and Joe [Cornish] – I ran away from LA to Cardiff to do Doctor Who, which is an unusual career path.”

“I’ve always been much more passionate about television than movies and I don’t particularly want to be a foreigner. I‘d rather work here – working in British television is pretty cool.”

And, rarely has there been a better time to work in TV. “It’s extraordinary,” says Moffat. “Our drama is doing phenomenal business everywhere and look at the amount of bloody brilliant comedy we’ve got at the moment. This is a golden period.”

Peter Capldi as The Doctor



I’m not sure how I feel about this casting. On one hand it’s nice to see an established actor have the roll. It might bring a darker, more mature Doctor than before. On the other hand, I think he might be a touch too old. But, like I did with Matt Smith, I’m going to give him a chance to grow into the role and see what happens.

I don’t think it’s fair for any of us to pan his ability to be The Doctor without seeing how he does first. He may surprise us with a very complex, and intriguing portrayal as Smith did.

It will be interesting to see how things turn out, but I’ll tell you one thing: I’m betting the regeneration is during the 50th anniversary special. Why? Because there’s something River said the Clara and The Doctor. To enter your own time stream is fatal, that the winds of the vortex would tear you apart. Ok, so where’s the Doctor? Inside his own time stream. How will he get out if it’s fatal? Sounds like a regeneration to me.

Always pay attention to the words spoken during a Moffatt episode. He writes from the back to the front, so a lot of them foreshadow the climatic episode.

Peter Capaldi The Oddsmakers Favorite To Replace Matt Smith



Peter Capaldi remains the bookies’ favourite to be named the next Doctor Who on Sunday.

Capaldi, 55, who is better known for playing hot-headed Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It, has been placed above Daniel Rigby, Ben Daniels and Rory Kinnear to play the next Doctor.

Click here to see the other favourite actors in-line to be the new Doctor

William Hills has 11/8 odds on Capaldi, making him the favourite to be handed the role, although Black Mirror actor Daniel Rigby has made a late entry into the top five seeing his odds slashed from 40/1 to 9/2.

Joe Crilly, a spokesman for William Hill, said: “Peter Capaldi remains the favourite as we await the announcement, but it does not appear that the result is as cut and dry as first thought with Daniel Rigby coming in for some late support.”

The unveiling of the 12th Doctor will be announced on Sunday during a special live showon BBC One, which will see the next incarnation of Doctor Who emerge from the TARDIS.

It is thought that Capaldi’s name began to surface after Doctor Who creator Steven Moffat said he would not rule out casting an older Doctor.

He said: “We’ve never not considered an older Doctor. It is completely on all the lists we make- there are absolutely older Doctors.”

Previous frontrunner Rory Kinnear has slipped to fourth place at the bookies after he revealed he had never seen an episode of the show.

Billie Piper, former Doctor’s assistant Rose Tyler, is the only woman listed by Paddy Power to take on the title role after it was rumoured earlier this week that an actress might be in the running.

But with odds on at 33/1 it doesn’t look like Piper will be emerging from the TARDIS on Sunday.

Odds to replace Matt Smith as the Doctor

Peter Capaldi: 11/8

Daniel Rigby: 9/2

Ben Daniels: 5/1

Rory Kinnear: 15/1

Andrew Scot 10/1

Matt Smith on Doctor Who and the 12th Doctor


Matt Smith argues that the next Doctor could be male or female, as he chats about Doctor Who…

With San Diego Comic-Con now in full swing, Matt Smith has been the latest to do a Q&A at the event, and you won’t be surprised to hear that no shortage of Doctor Who questions were fired his way.

Smith has just finished filming How To Catch A Monster, which is being directed by Mr Ryan Gosling. And he admitted that “Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans”.

Smith was asked how he’d like his incarnation of the Doctor to come to an end, and he replied that “I feel like I already know how it ends. There’s a golden light, open a TARDIS, put my arms out… and then I turn into a woman!”

You don’t need us to tell you that there’s no shortage of speculation that a female Doctor is around the corner, although we’d still be surprised if it was. However, Smith told IGN that “He’s an alien, or she’s an alien. It doesn’t matter. The Doctor is a complete alien … It can be anyone – and that’s the great thing about the part”. “There’s so many female actresses who’d be amazing”, he said, citing Helen Mirren as one example.

Matt Smith did admit that he didn’t know who the 12th Doctor was yet. Not that he’s likely to tell if he knew otherwise, of course. “You’re in for some serious revelations”, he teased when asked about John Hurt and the 50th anniversary Doctor Who special. The Christmas special, meanwhile, is set to shoot in September.

Smith also suggested that he’d been interested in roles in Star Trek and Star Wars, too.

The full Doctor Who Comic-Con panel is scheduled for Sunday. Expect more speculative questions around then…