On January 1st 2020, Doctor Who fans around the world were left stunned as Sacha Dhawan – apparently playing an ally to Jodie Whittaker’s TARDIS team – was unmasked as the latest incarnation of longtime series baddie The Master.
It was a massive TV moment, and a genuinely hair-raising twist that surprised almost everyone – except former series showrunner Steven Moffat. You see, while he wasn’t given a heads-up by current series boss Chris Chibnall, Dhawan himself had accidentally let the cat out of the bag already.
“Chris didn’t give me the heads up, no, but Sacha accidentally did,” Moffat told RadioTimes.com at the Radio Times Covers Party.
“I was having dinner with him. I said ‘Look, don’t tell me anything about what you’re doing on the show. Because I don’t want to know. But are you enjoying it?’.
“He said ‘Oh it’s great, apart from all the really complicated dialogue like, oh, Tissue Compression Eliminator.’”
And for Moffat, the telltale mention of the Master’s signature weapon was enough to blow the entire reveal for him.
“I thought… I know exactly what part you’re playing, just from that! Just from that I know,” he laughed.
“I slightly regretted I didn’t get the reveal on camera, because I’ve had years of knowing what’s coming. I would prefer not to know.”
Still, even with the big twist spoiled Moffat says he was blown away by Dhawan’s take on the role.
“I thought he was terrific, absolutely terrific as the Master,” Moffat told us.
“It’s like Moriarty in Sherlock. Moriarty turning up is always the twist. We keep getting away with it.”
In which case, maybe he should have seen the big twist coming anyway…
Doctor Who continues on BBC One at 7:10pm on Sundays