“Handsome men don’t quite suit” – Doctor Who’s Steven Moffat on how to choose a Time Lord

Moffat reveals that Peter Capaldi’s “boyishness” helped win him the part of the Doctor, adding: “None of the Doctors are conventionally attractive”

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has revealed that one of the key factors in choosing a Doctor is that they are “attractive in a very odd way”.


Writing in this week’s Radio Times, the executive producer and lead writer says that the key to being the Doctor is that you are “carved out of solid star” – but being conventionally good looking is a no-no.

“When you choose a Doctor, you want somebody who is utterly compelling, attractive in a very odd way,” writes Moffat. “None of the Doctors are conventionally attractive, but they’re all arresting. Handsome men don’t quite suit. Matt Smith’s a young, good-looking bloke from one angle but is actually the strangest looking man from another. You need that oddity; you need somebody who is carved out of solid star, really.”

Moffat says that it was easy to cast Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and John Hurt because of their innate “brilliance”.

“Doctor Who is a whopping great star vehicle, despite the fact it changes star every so often. And so it really is built around the abilities, the charm, the magnetism of a succession of different actors. I’ve cast Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and John Hurt, but the truth is, they all cast themselves – the easiest thing to spot in the world is sheer brilliance.”

Moffat adds that Capaldi was chosen because “there is something about [his] demeanour, his eyes, his attitude – he’s tremendously bright and that comes out on screen.”

Comparing Smith and Capaldi, he says: “I always thought Matt, while a very young man, had something of the demeanour of a much older man, whereas Peter is a man in his 50s but is terribly boyish and young at times.

“I like the Doctors to have mixed messages about what age they are – you can’t really pin them down. The Doctors are all the same Doctor really, at the end of the day, but you can slide the faders up and down. And to emphasise the senior consultant over the medical student for once reminds people that he’s actually a terrifying old beast. Typically, Matt’s method would do that, too: occasionally just turn cold and you’d think, ‘You’re not really a puppy are you?’ Just like Peter Capaldi’s Doctor will sometimes remind me he’s a big kid at heart.“

Moffat also reveals his anxieties about the 50th anniversary episode before it was aired.

“I can remember sitting with my wife saying, ‘I can’t tell if it’s any good any more, it could be rubbish – I’ll have to leave the country. I’ll have to fake my own death’.”

Read the full interview with Steven Moffat in the new issue of Radio Times, on sale Tuesday