Last week’s Doctor Who reveal – that mysterious villain Missy (Michelle Gomez) was in fact a female regeneration of classic foe the Master – left many fans reeling and desperate for more information.
And while we’ll have to wait until tomorrow’s episode to find out just how the Master has returned, head series writer Steven Moffat has now explained the motivation behind the plotline.
Speaking in a clip from behind-the-scenes iPlayer series Doctor Who Extra, he said: “It’s just a proper, good old twist! We’ve been saying for years now, certainly since I took over, that regeneration can change your gender.”
“That I thought, is maybe the one they won’t see coming.”
Moffat didn’t exactly blindside everyone – many had already made the connection: Missy > Mistress > Master – but he certainly did his best. As recently as August, Moffat was denying the reappearance of the Master in Doctor Who at a panel for the series eight premiere.
“I think the story’s sort of done,” he told the crowd. “I thought what Russell [T Davies] did with that was so brilliant, because I did think it was over.”
He added duplicitously: “The Doctor doesn’t really need an arch-enemy, so we’ll go for new ones.”
In the clip, Moffat also recalled his decision to cast Gomez in the role, apparently made before he’d actually written the part.
“I saw her on the list for another part in this series,” he said, “And I thought ‘Oh my god, it’s her! It’s her. That’s who should be playing Missy. That’s the perfect person. She’s brilliant.’ So, we offered her the part and I think she’s quite magnificent. “
Series star Peter Capaldi agreed, adding: “I was delighted that the Master came back – and doubly delighted that Michelle played the Master because I know Michelle, and I knew she’d bring all her customary vigour and wit and sharpness to it.”
And what did Gomez herself think about her casting? It’s hard to say – but she’s keen to do her duty.
“The role came about where I got a call, and I was asked to do it, and I said ‘yeah all right then,’” the actress deadpanned.
“Because you don’t say no to Doctor Who. You can’t.”
Doctor Who: Death in Heaven is on BBC1 at 8:00pm this Saturday (8th November)