Steven Moffat on accusations of misogyny, turning Doctor Who into The Clara Show, and casting Missy

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Dec 3, 2015

In a new extensive and fascinating interview with Radio Times, showrunner Steven Moffat talked about all things Doctor Who and Sherlock.

Moffat answered a wide variety of questions, ranging from who his personal heroes from the beloved series are to which Doctor Who DVDs he watches on a rainy day to which is the one episode he’s written that he would actually take with him on a deserted island (surprisingly, it's "The Night of the Doctor," the nearly 7-minute minisode with 8th Doctor Paul McGann).

Among the many questions, the showrunner was also asked about all those accusations of misogyny and the fact that fans strongly felt that he was turning Doctor Who into “The Clara Show.”

It’s a big and complicated issue and I never quite know how to respond to it. The general point being made by these people is correct. We need better female role models and representation on screen. We need all of that. Maybe this is my dimwittery but I do not understand why Doctor Who of all shows is singled out as a misogynist show. And I’m really not like that. I’m sure I’m to the left of a lot of my detractors, but I don’t want to argue with them because I think generally they’re right. We do need to do better.

It’s important to me that the little girls watching see Amy or Clara or Rose and want to be like them. People object and say you’re turning it into The Clara Show but that’s always been the case from the beginning. The Doctor’s always been a co-lead. He’s the hero figure but he’s not any more than a co-lead. Elisabeth Sladen was not less important than Tom Baker. Katy Manning was not less important than Jon Pertwee. Ian and Barbara frequently eclipsed the Doctor. Rose Tyler was the star of modern Doctor Who for the first two years. Every time any paper carried a photo of Doctor Who, it wasn’t Chris [Eccleston] or David [Tennant], it was Billie [Piper]. And that’s a strength.

Talking about the strength of the female companions, conversation then turned to Michelle Gomez, who plays the Doctor’s Best. Frenemy. Ever, Missy, who is undeniably one of Steven Moffat’s awesomest creations (along with my personal favorite, River Song).

I can take a fair amount of credit for that. She actually was up for a different part last year. And I was mooching about the office and saw her name on the list for that part and I said, “No, no, no! Hold off. That’s exactly who we should have for Missy.” But we’d already offered her the other role. I suddenly saw exactly how to write Missy if it was going to be Michelle.

A couple of days’ stress later I had an email for Michelle saying, “I’m so gutted to be turning down this part in Doctor Who you’ve just offered me. I’m unavailable but if there’s ever anything else in Doctor Who even remotely suitable for me, I’d love to do it.” I went into the office the next day and said, “This is it. We are definitely casting Michelle as Missy.” We then let Michelle in on that secret and she was gobsmacked. What a performance! She eats up that screen.

What do you think about Steven Moffat’s comments? The Doctor Who Season 9 finale airs this Saturday.


(via Radio Times)

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