Arriving this Christmas at 7:30pm on BBC One is the final Doctor Who adventure for Matt Smith as both he and Jenna Coleman (The Impossible Girl) bring our Christmas spirit to a rather unhappy ending with ‘The Time of the Doctor’. After four years at the rickety controls of the TARDIS, Smith will be handing over the key to Peter Capaldi who shall be running across the universe as the Thirteenth Doctor and ahead of the Special, stars Smith and Coleman and showrunner Steven Moffat have offered a little more detail about the upcoming episode….
Can you set the scene for this Christmas episode?
It’s his final battle and he’s been fighting it for a while. The Doctor is facing the joint challenge of a mysterious event in space that has summoned lots of aliens to one place and helping Clara cook Christmas dinner. There are also elements from every series of Matt’s Doctor, which will come to a head in this special. Things that we’ve laid down for years are going to be paid off.
Did you know what you wanted Matt’s last words to be?
I didn’t think I would go that way, but a couple of months before I wrote it I did say to Mark (Gatiss) that I thought I knew what his last moment would be. And indeed his last line. But if it didn’t fit the scene I wouldn’t crowbar it in. I’ve had the vague storyline in place for a long while.
The Christmas special will introduce the next Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. What was it about Peter that you thought was right for the role?
He’s one of the best actors in the country and is very beloved. I was at the BAFTAs shortly before we were contemplating Peter and heard the cheer he got from the audience. Nobody has a bad thing to say about him and that’s not a minor issue when it comes to casting a Doctor. They’ve got to be lovely. And he’s a huge fan of Doctor Who. So we asked and he was incredibly excited to come and audition. We didn’t tell him that he was the only person auditioning because that would be oddly pressuring.
Did you deliberately aim to cast an older Doctor?
It wasn’t the reason I cast Peter but I do think if we’d cast another Doctor as young as Matt – because Matt’s been so good at being The Young Doctor – I’m not sure what another one would have done. They’d have to have either been deliberately different or just repeat him.
Read the full Q&A here.
Is there a sense from the start of the episode that we’re moving towards a regeneration?
It’s very much an adventure, but it goes off on a different track. People watching will know that it’s Matt’s last episode, but it doesn’t loom over from the start.
Are you looking forward to filming next year with Peter?
It will be a different show next year. We have a bit of a gap before we start filming the new series, so I have time to get my head around it all. Me and Peter will get together before Christmas to start rehearsing and the scripts will start coming in. I think when I came in there was just a week off in production where Arthur and Karen left, so that would have been a strange shift. This episode is very much about Matt and the 11th Doctor and Clara and the 11th Doctor and their last adventure together. I have no idea where we’re going to next series!
What was your reaction when you heard the next Doctor was Peter Capaldi?
It was kind of that moment ‘of course, makes sense’. It’s funny as I don’t think he was one of the names that was originally being speculated about and it wasn’t until the week before that his name came up. He’s going to be so different to Matt and take the show in an interesting direction.
What will you miss about working with Matt?
Everything! When you’re reading a scene with him he can turn anything on its head. He’s so inventive, clever and very funny. There’s just so much that I’ll miss about him.
Read the full Q&A here.