Peter Capaldi’s decision to quit Doctor Who was a shock to fans when it was announced in January, with many people caught off guard when the Scottish actor revealed his intentions to Jo Whiley on her evening radio show.
However, it turns out that departing series showrunner Steven Moffat wanted to keep the news secret for even longer, with the screenwriter revealing that in an ideal world he’d have kept the details under wraps until midway through the upcoming series 10 – if not even longer.
“In this world where you can’t keep secrets, where it is absolutely impossible to keep secrets, there was no point in trying,” he told SFX magazine. “I’d far rather nobody knew until the regeneration. That would be so exciting. But we just can’t do it.
“In terms of announcing that Peter was leaving we had to make a difﬁcult calculation. We did it when we did it because there was still some time before the series comes back and most real people – as opposed to fans – will stop thinking about who the next Doctor Who is and then watch it. We didn’t want it to leak the week before we put the show on.”
However, as Moffat went on to explain, he had his own ideas about how the news could have been used to the series’ advantage.
“My idea would have been to announce it halfway through the broadcast of the series and get a ratings spike as a result of everyone talking about Doctor Who, just at the time when it’s difﬁcult to get people talking about Doctor Who,” he said.
“You just can’t. You just can’t hold anything anymore, which makes me despair, but that’s the way it is!”
Moffat (who will be replaced by Chris Chibnall this Christmas) also admitted that he was disappointed the news would now overshadow Capaldi’s final series, with the public more interested in guessing who’d follow the current Doctor than appreciating his actual performance.
“I don’t think it’s a good thing,” Moffat said of the speculation. “There’s a third of his run to go. He’s here till Christmas. He is the Doctor.”
We can only hope that when the series does come back to screens, fans and viewers can remember that again.
Steven Moffat will be in conversation with Frank Skinner at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival at BFI Southbank, London on 9th April; Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie take part in a panel discussion and preview of the new series of ‘Doctor Who’ at the festival, also on 9th April (020 7928 3232); and Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss will be in conversation with Radio Times TV Editor Alison Graham, also on the 9th April.