‘Doctor Who’: Steven Moffat Promises Major Changes in Season 8

Published 11 months ago by , Updated June 6th, 2014 at 1:51 pm,

Doctor Who Logo 2014 Doctor Who: Steven Moffat Promises Major Changes in Season 8

After a year preparing for Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary as well as the departure of fan-favorite Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, news of the show’s upcoming season 8 has been in comparative short supply. While set photos and casting announcements have been trickling out at a steady pace, it’s been a long time since a major Doctor Who update has slipped through Steven Moffat’s well-guarded production. Even the season 8 teaser, announcing an August 2014 premiere for the next chapter, stayed true to its name – and did little more than tease the show’s return (as well as its new Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi).

Still the secrecy is understandable. In spite of major casting changes on the horizon, the run up to season 7 resulted in a number of key details leaking ahead of official reveals. As a result, Moffat and his team have been tight-lipped about season 8 – apparently for good reason. In a recent appearance, the writer/showrunner promised big things for the upcoming run of episodes, outright asserting that he wants to reestablish a sense of surprise in the series.

Speaking at the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts in Wales, Moffat opened up about both the casting of Capaldi (once again praising the new Doctor) as well as what fans might see in season 8. Below we’ve highlighted a few excerpts from the Hay Festival interview and embedded a mid-conversation clip (courtesy of BBC).

On the process of casting Peter Capaldi:

“To keep it completely secret I got him around to my house and we auditioned him there. I wrote these daft little scenes for him. And he carried them off. And, of course, he was brilliant, because he’s Peter Capaldi and he’s always brilliant!”

On Moffat’s approach to season 8:

“We haven’t made much of change to Doctor Who since it came back in 2005. I just felt it needs to be a bit more different now. It’s needs to be surprising again!”

Of course, Moffat is never one to spill secrets ahead of schedule, relying instead of vague hints to whet fan appetites, but his comments suggest that BBC isn’t afraid to take some risks – even with a new actor in the title role.

Peter Capaldi Doctor Who 2014 Doctor Who: Steven Moffat Promises Major Changes in Season 8

While the showrunner has discussed the hiring of Capaldi multiple times, Moffat’s comments offer a fun behind-the-scenes glimpse at how hard it is to keep secrets from Doctor Who fans, not to mention British tabloids. We’ve heard prior rumors suggesting that multiple actors had been considered (not auditioned) for the part but it’s interesting to discover that Moffat’s process for testing Capaldi was, overall, pretty informal. No doubt, there was more to it than Moffat is likely implying but The Doctor is one of the most iconic TV roles in the world – and it’s amusing to think such a massive decision was (mostly) made in Moffat’s living room after a few “daft” line readings.

Without a doubt, many fans were hoping for a Doctor that ushered in a more diverse era for the doctor (either by gender or race) but even though Capaldi is older and whiter than some might have wanted, there’s no denying that the veteran actor has the potential to be “brilliant” as The Doctor. Still, Moffat’s other comment implies that the show isn’t simply going to coast on post-50th Anniversary goodwill – with the showrunner suggesting that season 8 will see major changes (Capaldi being the first one) in order to make the series “more different” and “surprising.”

Peter Capaldi Doctor Who Time of the Doctor Doctor Who: Steven Moffat Promises Major Changes in Season 8

It’s an interesting quote – especially since Doctor Who has changed quite a bit over the years since it was reintroduced in 2005. Beyond the coming and going of three Doctors (and one War Doctor) as well as a handful of companions, the series has evolved from monster of the week mysteries to heavily serialized (and at times quite serious) story arcs. Moffat doesn’t offer much room for speculation on what else might change, beyond the casting of Capaldi, but he does seem to indicate that the upcoming season could be somewhat different from what has come before. Whether changes are merely cosmetic or a more involved course-correction for Doctor Who going forward remains to be seen but Moffat has previously indicated (and reiterates the point again in the extended interview) that he opted for an older Doctor this time to help show viewers a new side of the character as well as open up fresh storytelling possibilities.

To that end, with most side characters and narrative arcs from the Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith eras sewed-up, Moffat and his team have a relatively clean slate. After all, Doctor Who has always been a story about regeneration – and subsequently reinvention.

We’ll keep you up to date as the BBC begins the marketing run up for season 8 in the coming weeks.


MORE: Doctor Who Viewing Guide: Suggestions & Complete Episode List


Doctor Who season 8 will premiere this August on BBC and BBC America.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for any future updates on Doctor Who, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Source: Hay Festival [via BBC]

Follow Ben Kendrick on Twitter @benkendrick
TAGS: Doctor who
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  1. I’m still in the process of catching up with the show. Right now I’m in the middle of watching the specials that sit between Season 4 and Season 5. David Tennant was great, but I’m looking forward to Matt Smith’s portrayal, and of course Guardians of Galaxy’s Karen Gillan.

    • Once you meet Amelia Pond it will not be “Guardians of the Galaxy’s Karen Gillan.”

    • I don’t remember Capaldi in that (it was as forgettable as the rest of Torchwood and the entire Matt Smith run in my opinion) but his role in The Thick Of It is what has me excited because he was absolute genius in that show and subsequent spin-off movie that appeared between seasons 3 and 4.

      • I’d watch the 3rd season of Torchwood then, because Capaldi is phenomenal in it.

  2. Encouraging comments from Moffat. The show has been the same for too long now. Once RTD left it was time for a new direction but they just essentially cast the same kind of Doctor doing the same kind of thing with the same kind of companion.

    It was different in as much as RTD and Moffat are kind of different writers but if the Doctor is the same (in comparision to the wide variety of the original series)as well as the companions and the pattern of the show then what really changes that much?

    The original series was already several different shows 9 years into it’s run with wild variations of Doctor and companion and enemies and stories. The new series has long been in a rut that way but since it’s been successful there has been no need to bother to change all that much past 10-15%.

  3. Everytime i hear about Moffat talking about this show i am afraid that he may be hinting at some kind of stupid change in the show, just for the sake of “uhh! a twist! what a clever twist!” so i am taking this “time to change a few things” with caussion.
    I only hope they adress the fact that the same face shows up three times, LOL

    • I’m hoping they don’t bother explaining capaldi’s face showing up again. I don’t want it turning into some George Lucas explanation of something that didn’t even need explaining and just slows the plot down and takes any fun or wonder away.

      • Moffat actually has said he asked RTD if he cast Capaldi on purpose in DW and Torchwood. RTD had some explanation and Moffat said it was great so he is somehow going to use that in Capaldi’s run as to how he could play 3 different characters in the Doctor Who/Torchwood universe.

  4. Everything will be okay if Jenna Coleman is still the co-pilot.

    • As long as the chemistry between the 2 are sound, then I agree.

  5. I’m sorry but Moffat claims to have been a fan of Doctor Who…so why does he insist on basically making a new franchise?

    As a fan of Doctor Who myself, i feel that the Matt Smith era is separate from the Eccleston and Tennant eras because of the lack of references and mentions of the past. I feel that the whole thing from seasons 5-7 could have provided some cameos, one off returns or references to past companions (50th anniversary not included. This would give a reminder to the audience that this is not a disjointed story arc and give some sort of nostalgia.

    All i can do is hope that this happens in the Capaldi phase other wise this might as well be season 4 of a reboot TV show rather than season 8 of a collective franchise.

    —Hope people agree and I welcome all comments—

    • I disagree that seasons 5-7 ‘lack references or mentions of the past’. Just off the top of my head I can think of:

      - Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of the Brig – first appearance in early s7, I think it was ‘The Power of Three’
      - A montage of images of all of the Doctors in Matt Smith’s first episode, The Eleventh Hour
      - The River Song arc was started in Tennant’s era (albeit in an episode written by Moffat)
      - The final episode of s7, ‘The Name of the Doctor’, had Clara jump into the Doctor’s past
      - The Great Intelligence reappearing in s7 for the first time since the classic era – and I believe actually serving as a prequel to one of the classic serials, though I confess I’ve never seen it! (London Underground?)
      - One of the short specials from the s5 DVDs had Amy seeing images of many of the previous companions

      I’m sure there’ll be more I’ve forgotten. And of course the anniversary special is packed full of references to the past, though I understand why you excluded it.

      I will grant you that we haven’t had much in the way of returning characters the way that Tennant’s era had Sarah-Jane and the Master (and a few others through the Sarah Jane Adventures), but then Eccleston’s year didn’t have ANY returning characters that I remember.

  6. Seems fairly self-evident to me they’re going to the more original style of Doctor Who (or in my opinion – suckier doctor who) based on last season.

    Less serious arcs, less serious sci-fi and more cornball dad jokes.

    Hope I am proved wrong.