After the successes of Doctor Who and Sherlock, Steven Moffat has admitted that having multiple rejections for his stage play version of Douglas Is Cancelled was a "lesson in humility".

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Writing in this week's issue of Radio Times magazine, Moffat reflects on the early stages of the new ITV drama which stars Hugh Bonneville and Karen Gillan. In fact, as Moffat reveals, before it was to be known as Douglas Is Cancelled, the project was intended for the stage.

As Moffat says: "I just typed away and felt a calm, glowing confidence that I would deliver my theatre piece and stadiums would fill."

But he then reveals that the reality was far from that and actually, he was met with silence from many theatres, with others simply rejecting his stage production idea.

Moffat reveals: "I’d been dumped back in reality, and the world outside 221B Baker Street was just sort of shrugging at me. It was a lesson in humility: specifically, that I needed to acquire some."

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Karen Gillan, Steven Moffat and Matt Smith standing next to each other against a neutral dark background and looking at the camera.
Karen Gillan, Steven Moffat and Matt Smith. John Lamparski/Getty Images

Of course, after the glowing reactions to both Doctor Who and Sherlock, which Moffat created with Mark Gatiss, it's understandable that having some rejections would knock anyone's confidence. But thankfully, Moffat has adapted his idea for the small screen as a comedy-drama which follows news anchor Douglas (Bonneville) who makes a controversial joke at a cousin's wedding.

When details of his comments are teased online, social media is ablaze with people trying to 'cancel' the beloved TV personality.

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According to the synopsis: "Douglas Is Cancelled introduces us to middle aged, and greying, current affairs news anchor, Douglas Bellowes, a respected broadcaster and raconteur who loves the life he’s created with his newspaper editor wife, Sheila.

"Whilst an experienced broadcaster for Live At Six, behind the scenes Douglas surprisingly needs constant reassurance from his sharper, younger, tech savvy, social media aware co-anchor, Madeline, who appears to be able to wrap him around her little finger."

As the relationship between Madeline and Douglas comes into the limelight ever more, viewers will be left wondering just whether Madeline is the friend she purports to be or is actually a foe in this whole messy affair.

And across the four episodes, viewers will be taken on quite the journey as we see Douglas's life and comments come under fire. But it won't be until the end of the series that we actually learn what his comments were.

Moffat previously revealed: "What's funny about this is you don't know what he [actually] said until the end. So you can make up your mind [along the way] whether he should be cancelled or not.

"It's a heated topic, and isn't it funny that everyone has exactly the same opinion, really? Everybody wants to cancel somebody."

Dua Lipa on the Radio Times cover in a white T-shirt, jeans and a red jacket
Dua Lipa for Radio Times magazine.

Douglas Is Cancelled will air on ITV1 and ITVX on Thursday 27th June 2024.

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Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.

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