Steven Moffat Reveals How The Christmas Special Was Nearly Scrapped

Steven Moffat revealed that he stuck around until this year’s Christmas special because the BBC might have scrapped the festive episode.

Moffat, who will be succeeded by Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall after this year’s Christmas special, Twice Upon a Time, had never intended to bow out with the special, which will also see Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor regenerate into Jodie Whittaker.

Moffat told Digital Spy:

“There was one big glitch, which was Christmas. I was going to leave at the end of series 10 – I had my finale planned and what I wanted to do with it. I had a good notion of that.

“Then I learned at a drinks event somewhere that Chris didn’t want to start with a Christmas, so at that point they were going to skip Christmas. There’d be no Christmas special and we would’ve lost that slot.”

He went on to suggest that if he had given up the Christmas special, the Beeb might have scraped the episode from the already-congested Christmas schedule.

“Doctor Who would’ve lost that slot if we hadn’t [done a special] because Christmas Day is now so rammed. So I said, probably four glasses of red wine in, ‘I’ll do Christmas!’ and then had to persuade Peter [Capaldi] that’s how we were leaving.

“Then I had to work out how you could get mortally injured in one episode and spend an hour regenerating on Christmas Day, which I hopefully have done!”

While the changeover might appear smooth on the surface, the actual switch over between showrunners has been “incredibly prosaic” in many ways.

He added:

“It’s like handing over any job. Though Chris was incredibly, and is incredibly, fastidious about not wanting to seem to lurk behind me, ready to knife me in the back!

“I never felt that – he was absolutely welcome to be there any time he wanted, I had no problem with it all. He’s a good friend.”

Doctor Who will return on Christmas Day with Twice Upon a Time on BBC One.

  • Rick714

    The process did seem a bit be labored this time. I thought the Moff was just experimenting with a really long and complicated regen. Now I know Peter’s ending is actually a last ditch act of desperation and basically an add on because neither the Beeb or Chibnall actually cared about DW appearing on screens this Christmas. This is incredibly sad.

  • reTARDISed

    Yet in spite of this news, I am very much anticipating the Christmas episode (not always the case in previous years). That, for me, is an acheivement. I’m already missing the herculean efforts of Messrs Moffat and Capaldi. In 2018, I’m not sure I’ll feel like “Broadchurch does Christmas”, if Chibnall ever decides he’ll be doing Christmas episodes…

  • DonnaM

    I’m grateful to the Moff for salvaging the Christmas slot, even if I haven’t always been hugely enamoured of what’s filled it. Even duff Doctor Who with a novelty “name” guest is better than the dross that fills the rest of the schedule.

    Plus he’s giving me another hour of my favourite Doctor of them all.

    However I now have another reason to be deeply sceptical about the incoming top man. Willing to scrap the biggest date of the broadcasting year? That’s hardly the way to persuade me the show is in safe hands…

    • bar none but PC

      Maybe he wanted time to really get into his series so he could hit the ground running and get it right, rather than fill in hurredly while finishing previous commitments.
      And maybe he’s less worried about what the current BBC shedules dictate and more about producing a quality show that will grab people whenever broadcast…
      See, we can find a way to think positive 😉

      • DonnaM

        Thank, Bar. I could do with reasons to be cheerful to set against my current catalogue of concerns.

        The calibre of previous contributions; the off-putting “had to be wooed” quote; the deliberate and unequivocal decision to cast a certain set of physical attributes first ahead of any other qualifications; and a willingness to give up arguably the most prestigious broadcasting slot of the year.

        Still, low expectations means I’m more likely to be pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed I suppose 🙂

        • bar none but PC

          Who teaches us that frightening things can be defeated – be they daleks or cybermen, mad scientists or crazy cults. But the one thing that secretly terrifies Who fans is the spectre of the show being ditched, cast out into the wilderness again. Much worse if we secretly believe there might be good reason for the ‘rest.’
          But those ‘wilderness years’ kept Who alive in fabulous, creative, loyal ways, so there was something glorious to bring back.

          Brave heart, Donna!

        • Ranger

          It’s why I always state it’s better to be a pessimist. My husband is an optimist and is always being disappointed, whereas I am fairly philosophical about things going wrong with occasional happy surprises.

      • daft

        Well, I’d imagine he could have put something together, but it’s not just about the writer when it’s the on and off point for a lot of technical and backroom staff, as well. It must be hugely tempting for the formerly England-based staff to jump ship to get back to their families.

        • bar none but PC

          Yes, but have they packed their passports, had their jabs, and passed a refresher course in mockney and non-devolutionist thinking?

          • daft

            Now, now, just wait to Amnesty officially recognize the emotional distress caused by the dispossessed intelligentsia adrift without proper access to a mock, mocha skinny latte infused with chia by Shoreditch’s finest dark alchemy baristas. 😉

          • bar none but PC

            ‘Adrift’ – now that was an interesting ep of Torchwood.

      • Turdformers 6: Age of Dog Mess

        If that’s the case then it’s a mistake. Any buzz resulting from the casting of Whittaker could be capitalised on with an Xmas special, much the same as Tennant’s debut. I don’t get the idea that you can’t introduce his style over an extended Xmas entry. He’s have had a full 6 months to work on it.

        That said, I am glad we are getting this Xmas special and no his. Capaldi deserves it.

  • The Lazy Womble

    I never thought I would write these words, but I too am grateful to Mr Moff for ensuring we have a Christmas special at all. I also am looking forward to it. The last series has made me a Moff and PC almost fan. (Okay, damned with faint praises, but it is a massive step from where I was last year)

    • bar none but PC

      Just a Who fan Womble; some need either slavish devotion to every second of canon, or harsh critique of all but a favoured era, but most of us can cope with grey areas! Personally I adore PC’s Doctor, but am the first to admit much of his tenure has not served him well. Would love to know what three seasons of 12 and Bill might have been.
      Showrunner is always a poisoned chalice, and many prefer Moff’s writing when not showrunning to his complex arcs and contunuity vortexes. Let’s hope Chibs has it the other way round: his Who eps for other showrunners have been – dubious – but maybe his over-view may be less controvercial than Moff’s.