Steven Moffat explains why his new time travel drama is “very different” to Doctor Who

The ex-Who boss is also halfway through his new BBC drama Inside man

Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat (BBC, BD)

It seems fair to say that Steven Moffat is a busy man, with the former Doctor Who boss and Sherlock creator announcing that he’s written his first play just weeks after his long-awaited Dracula adaptation came to the BBC and Netflix.

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Beyond that, he’s also working on a new BBC thriller called Inside Man – but perhaps of most interest for fans of his years on Doctor Who will be his upcoming adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger novel The Time Traveller’s Wife, which is set to air on HBO.

For Whovians, the news that Moffat is coming back to play with a time travel story immediately raised excitement – but now the screenwriter has stated that there’ll be little to compare this new series to his time on Doctor Who, with Moffat telling RadioTimes.com that the stories couldn’t be more different.

“Time travel is kind of [the only connection],” Moffat told us at the annual Radio Times Covers Party. “It’s actually very very different.

“Although I happily riffed on the Time Traveller’s Wife a couple of times in Doctor Who with Girl in the Fireplace and River Song, actually time travel is a problem to the characters in Time Traveller’s Wife. They don’t want to be in that film. They want to be in when Harry Met Sally.”

Niffenegger’s book follows the love story of a woman called Clare and a man called Henry, whose relationship is complicated by the fact that Henry has a rare disease that randomly sends him back and forward in time.

Throughout the story Clare ends up meeting various versions of Henry from different points in his own timeline, including when he’s an adult and she’s a child, and parts of this idea (as Moffat acknowledged) helped inspire the concept of his Doctor Who character River Song (who has a similarly mixed-up relationship with the Doctor) as well as parts of Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith’s time with companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan).

“It’s a love story about ordinary people trying to live decent lives, complicated by the really annoying intrusion of time travel,” Moffat told us.

“It’s a very very different kind of show. They wish they weren’t in sci-fi, that’s the difference. Doctor Who loves being in sci-fi.”

And it sounds like viewers won’t have too long to wait to see just how different the story will be, with Moffat telling us he was making good progress with both The Time Traveller’s Wife and Inside Man.

“I’ve written half of, two of the four Inside Mans, and I’m well into Time Traveller’s Wife,” Moffat said. “So yeah yeah, it’s all going well I think.”

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And if there are any Chrono-Impaired readers out there, please do let us know how the series turned out.