Steven Moffat: people who call Sherlock and Doctor Who too complex are “presumably fairly stupid”

The Bafta-winning screenwriter says audiences like clever shows - and has some advice for those hoping to follow in his footsteps

Steven Moffat has hit out at viewers who claim his TV series are too complicated, suggesting they are “fairly stupid people”.


He also insisted that audiences enjoy cleverly written programmes and refused to apologise for his work being intellectually demanding.

Speaking to Bafta, the writer said: “There’s been a weird backlash among, I presume, fairly stupid people about the fact the shows [Doctor Who and Sherlock] are complicated and clever, but they’re both huge international hits.

“We make no apology. Don’t expect to do the ironing; sit down, pay attention and think about it. Audiences like complexity. They follow intricately plotted soap operas all the time. It depresses me when people say, ‘It’s all far too clever.’”

Moffat, who recently won Best Writer at the Bafta Craft Awards, also had some advice for any aspiring screenwriters eager to follow in his footsteps.

“Just write,” he said. “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 s*** and so will the next 50 and probably the 50 after that. 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.”


The 50-year-old is due to receive Bafta’s Special Award this weekend at the Bafta TV Awards for his outstanding creative writing contribution to television.