Steven Moffat on strong women and the idea of a ‘macho’ Doctor

Speaking in New York, the showrunner also talked about a potential female Doctor...

Steven Moffat has been talking, as he often does, about Doctor Who. This time he has been talking about Doctor Who at a BAFTA event in New York, to celebrate 10 years of nuWho.

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After a screening of the episode Listen, Mr Moffat answered questions about the show from British ex-pat journo Jaci Stephen. The showrunner addressed criticisms that the female characters in Doctor Who are weak compared to the ‘macho’ Doctor.

Unsurprisingly, he disagreed. “The women in the show have always been hugely strong,” he argued. “They have always been kind of the main character. I get in trouble all the time for saying this, but you can’t make a show about a man who doesn’t really change – apart from his face and entire personality– and has no interior life, who is unimpressed by everything. You have to make it about the person he has the relationship with.”

Moffat pointed out that in Listen, Clara has “much more” dialogue than the Doctor. “I never told Peter” he cracked.

He was then asked about the possibility of a female Doctor, and whether that would deprive the show of a ‘Prince-like’ romantic male lead. Moffat was unconvinced.

“There is an aspect of it where you could say that if you make the Doctor female you’d lose a fairly unique male role model,” Moffat allowed, before putting the other side of the argument. “I’m not sure if I’m completely persuaded by that, purely because I don’t think the Doctor is the role model of Doctor Who.”

Not a role model? But his name is on the programme! How can that be?

“You can’t really base yourself on the Doctor. He’s off the spectrum barking mad, from space, and has lots of mysterious abilities that we do not. How do you base yourself on that? The role model is actually the other characters, his best friend, the person who deals with this out of control overgrown schoolboy racing around the universe imperious and too interfering for his own good. The Doctor becomes a hero for somebody else, he’s not a hero on his own.”

And anyway… “It’s a long and complicated argument and there is no vacancy in Doctor Who and the way Peter’s talking about it I don’t think there will be for a very long while.”

He also didn’t credit the idea that the Doctor is a testosterone fuelled manly man-lad.

“Look at our selection of macho men!” he said.

“No offence to any of my fine friends but…Matt Smith!”

[Moffat does a filigree Matt Smith style hand gesture]

“MACHO MAN!?”

[Moffat went on.]

“His best mate David Tennant…yes he’s terrifying isn’t he?”

[Note: this was probably sarcasm.]

“And Peter Capaldi. Please! No they’re not macho men.”

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It’s true what they say, then: behind every great Time Lord is an even greater woman.


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