Steven Moffat: The Doctor returns to Gallifrey like Clint Eastwood – “a mad, bad, dangerous bastard”

"What would happen if you took everything from him, broke his heart, kicked the crap out of him and he got up again – what would you be facing then? It's called Hell Bent for a reason..."


A finale four-and-a-half billion years in the making, Steven Moffat says that Hell Bent will push the Doctor further than he’s ever been pushed before, turning him into a, “mad, bad, dangerous bastard.”


The final episode continues the story on from Face The Raven and Heaven Sent, the two episodes in which the Doctor lost companion Clara Oswald, was betrayed by immortal frenemy Ashildr and was then teleported to a labyrinthian castle, where he only managed to escape by tunnelling through a wall four hundred times harder than diamond over the course of four-and-a-half billion years. It’s a long story. And on the other side of the wall? His home planet of Gallifrey – revealing that it was all a scheme by the Time Lords. 

Speaking to, Moffat says, “I think we probably take the Doctor right to the very end of his tether. I’ve toyed with it in the past but never really gone the whole hog. What would happen if you really, really, really pissed him off? If you took everything from him, broke his heart, kicked the crap out of him and he got up again – what would you be facing then? It’s called Hell Bent for a reason. As has been threatened occasionally in the series, what happens when he gets really mad? Well, this is it. Yes, he goes back to Gallifrey, and he goes back in a very bad mood. 

This, of course, will be the moment that the Doctor finds Gallifrey after saving it – in a tiny pocket universe – during 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor. In last year’s series eight finale, he seemed upset to have not found home. But what about now? 

“It took a long time to kind of figure out what it’d be like if he went back there. You’ve seen him go back – I’m going to talk like a tragic fanboy now – in The War Games and he’s obviously a bit sheepish; in Deadly Assassin, he’s a bit of a bad boy. But now he’s the guy who won the Time War. And they’d be terrified if he showed up.

“He becomes a badass Doctor, and that’s always fun as he doesn’t do badass very often. He’s too nice. But if you push him far enough – and by god, we push him in episode 11 – it all gets a bit Clint Eastwood. There’s a line I stupidly cut from [Hell Bent] that I still regret where someone protests, ‘But you’d never do that,’ and then someone says, ‘You don’t know anyone until you’ve seen them at home.’ That’s the thing we’ve gone for in this: how the Doctor looks to us, and how the Doctor looks to the Time Lords. And, you suddenly think, ‘Oh my god, he’s a mad bad dangerous bastard. A lawless man.'” 

In the later years of the classic series, Gallifrey wasn’t an unusual sight for fans. With the 2005 revival, however, Russell T Davies made the Time Lords more of a myth, with Gallifrey seemingly having been burnt in the last great Time War. 

“I was very much in favour when Russell said that Gallifrey would be gone. I thought that was a good idea, and then I f**ked all that up. I think [you have to] maintain Gallifrey as a place of awesome mystery – really mysterious, creepy, strange and powerful. In the Deadly Assassin (other kinds of assassin are apparently available), we discover it’s not quite as brilliant as we thought it was, but it’s still a creepy, strange place. I’d say it’s pretty strange and odd – this place. And the Doctor does look as if he could’ve come from here but doesn’t look like he fits. 

I think there’s a tremendous risk – he says, advertising episode 12 badly – in which the hero goes home. But I think we get round that.”


Hell Bent will air on BBC1 this Saturday (December 5th) at 8pm