Steven Moffat on why casting a female Doctor on Who is 'not a political decision'

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May 29, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT

A strong contingent of Doctor Who fans have been clamoring for a female Doctor for years. Captain Jack Harkness himself, actor John Barrowman, is in. Neil Gaiman is in. Even Dame Helen Mirren has said she wanted in on the gig -- with former Who companions Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan giving her their support.

But what about Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat?

Although Moffat has never been against the idea per se, when the time came to replace Matt Smith, it was Peter Capaldi who was chosen to step into the bigger-on-the-inside-shoes of the beloved Time Lord, with Moffat claiming Capaldi was the only name on his list.

As for hiring a woman to play the Doctor, Moffat said that at the time: “It didn’t feel right to me, right now. I didn’t feel enough people wanted it.”

During the recent Q&A held at the Wales Hay Festival for Literature and the Arts, as reported per The Telegraph, Steven Moffat also said:

“I don’t know why I’m the one who gets the grief for this. I’m the one who put the dialogue into the show to say it can happen.
“Do you know how it will happen? It will not happen that somebody sits down and says we must turn the Doctor into a woman. That is not how you cast the Doctor.
“A person will pop into the showrunner’s head and they’ll think. ‘Oh, my God, what if it was that person?’ And when that person is a woman, that’s the day it will happen.
“Casting is the dark arts of television. It is everything. That decision is central and absolute to everything you do. It’s the difference between a television programme and a sensation.
“So you don’t mess around with that; you don’t cast for any other reason than for passion and for aesthetics. It’s not a political decision, it’s an aesthetic decision and will always be.” Capaldi was chosen in just such a manner.
Moffat explained: “Peter Capaldi just kept popping into my head. I got him round to my house to audition. And he didn’t know he was the only person auditioning.”

When he was quizzed about the reason why he'd set his sights on an older Doctor (Peter Capaldi is 56, the oldest actor yet to be cast in the role), Moffat had this to say:

"Can you imagine if we had cast another handsome yet quirky young man with entertaining hair? The show would just have become that little bit more ordinary. You start to work out what the joke is and it's never quite as magic again."

As for making the Doctor’s companion someone other than the usual young 20th-century Earth female we've been used to having since the return of the sci-fi series back in 2005, Moffat said: "I would consider that. I very nearly did it last time."

(The Telegraph via The Mary Sue)