For well over a decade, Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat were at the heart of Doctor Who, both showrunning the popular sci-fi series through some of its most successful years – but despite often being compared, the two screenwriters say they never feel like they were in competition.
“I think people half expect us to be rivals and enemies, but we love each other,” Davies told RadioTimes.com when Moffat unexpectedly joined the interview at the Radio Times Covers Party in Claridge’s Hotel, London.
“We do, hooray. It’s all that Doctor Who nonsense.”
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“I love this man too,” Moffat said in an exclusive video conversation which you can watch below – but that didn’t stop him teasing his former Doctor Who colleague about the time they worked together, especially now that both men have handed over showrunning duties to Broadchurch’s Chris Chibnall.
When asked if he still found himself coming up with Doctor Who ideas, Davies was a resounding “No,” much to the chagrin of his fellow writer.
“He never did at the time, frankly,” Moffat joked. “I had to do it all!”
“I used to get his factory sweepings – that’s all I had!” agreed Davies.
“I still think of monsters,” Moffat added. “Do you never think, you see something scary and think ‘that could be a Doctor Who monster?’ I do think that, I honestly do.”
“No, it stopped with me like that,” Davies replied. “Bang. Though I do see films and I think ‘That’s Doctor Who-ey’ and stuff.
Frankly, Davies explained, he’d been more than happy just experiencing the series as a fan since his departure in 2010, a perk that successor Moffat had only recently been reintroduced to after handing over the top job to Chris Chibnall at the end of 2017.
“It’s not a new experience, watching from the sidelines,” Moffat said.
“We grew up doing that, and it would be awful if it was not on. That’s the nightmare. The idea that Doctor Who would not be on.”
“It’s not strange, it’s lovely, because it’s Doctor Who,” Davies said. “After all, I used to sit and watch our own! On a Saturday night I’d sit and watch it going out like a viewer.”
And even if they did want to be involved, the pair joked that new boss Chris Chibnall wouldn’t let them.
“We’re sitting outside those gates in Cardiff, crying ‘Let me in!’” Davies laughed.
“Chris…Chris….I’m in your garden. This tent its leaking, let me in,” added Moffat.
“He’s in South Africa tonight. Are we allowed to say that? He’s filming Doctor Who” Davies continued.
“In my day we scheduled the filming around this party. Come on! What’s more important than this? Actually we didn’t go to South Africa for 10 weeks in my day! Bloody ‘ell. Very nice.”
The pair went on to chat about their admiration for Chibnall and leading lady Jodie Whittaker’s new vision of Who, and shared some tips for other TV shows – they’re both enjoying Star Trek: Discovery and Money Heist, if you’re looking for recommendations – before hinting at some tantalising gossip about stars who turned down Doctor Who roles during their tenures.
“There is a list. A list of infamy, of people I will NEVER work with,” joked Moffat.
“Oh there are, but you just don’t name them, do you?” Davies added.
“No, I can’t. You can’t name them, because you journalists would turn up at their door tomorrow morning going ‘why didn’t you want to be in Doctor Who?’
“There was one surprising one who I’m not going to name, but I used to think ‘Wow – they don’t want to be in Doctor Who!’ I’ll tell Steven later. He probably tried as well.”
And after their all-too-brief reunion, the pair went their separate ways for the night – and clearly, they still had Doctor Who on their minds.
“I’m off to see Chris, he lets me in now,” Moffat deadpanned as he said goodbye.
“In South Africa?” asked Davies.
“Well, he says to YOU he’s in South Africa…” Moffat replied.
Now we just have to get all three of them together next time…
Doctor Who returns to BBC1 in 2020