Steven Moffat reveals Doctor Who nearly ended after David Tennant left

The BBC believed the sci-fi series "wouldn't succeed at all" without the tenth Doctor, according to the current showrunner, who cast Matt Smith as Tennant's replacement

Doctor Who minus Matt Smith hardly bears thinking about but, according to showrunner Steven Moffat, his bow tie-wearing, fez-sporting Raggedy Man Doctor nearly didn’t happen…


Speaking yesterday at the Hay Literary Festival, Moffat revealed the BBC were ready to axe the long-running sci-fi series after Smith’s predecessor David Tennant and then-showrunner Russel T Davies announced their departure back in 2008. 

“I think there were plans maybe to consider ending it,” said Moffat. “It was Russell T Davies saying, ‘You are not allowed to end it’ [that kept it going].”

He continued, “David owned that role in a spectacular way, gave it an all-new cheeky sexy performance and became a national treasure. So the idea that Doctor Who could go on at all in the absence of David was a huge question.

“I didn’t realise how many people thought it wouldn’t succeed at all. That was quite terrifying when I found out about it later.” 

Moffat also told of his initial reluctance to cast a younger actor as Tennant’s replacement – a role that eventually went to then-26-year-old Matt Smith. “I said, ‘We are seeing too many young actors’. Then Matt Smith comes in, and this is what happens when you get casting right.


“The moment Matt started saying that dialogue, with his strange manners and his extraordinary face, he was a hot young guy but he also looked kind of like your barmy uncle. I said, ‘I really like him. What age is he?’ They said ’26’.”