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Steven Moffat Talks Doctor Who, Female Characters, and Sexism

In an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, published on Monday 19th September, former showrunner Steven Moffat has been talking about his career and Doctor Who.

First and foremost: Russell T Davies is returning to the show but does that presage the return of Moffat?

“Everyone can stop worrying. I did it for six seasons on the trot. And I cannot imagine going back into doing that.”

How, then, does he categorise his own writing? Moffat says that all his stuff has been, “Action, mystery, suspense, adventure – all those things, as opposed to a deep analysis of the human heart that I could never possibly write. Who wants to read the angst-ridden ravings of a middle-class successful writer who has had his two dream jobs: writing Doctor Who and Sherlock?”

Nevertheless, Moffat’s career continues to impress. He has a play, The Unfriend, co-written by Mark Gatiss, about to transfer to London’s West End after a successful run at Chichester Festival Theatre (and starring Frances Barber from A Good Man Goes To War), and the BBC is about to screen his new thriller Inside Man, starring David Tennant.

Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian’s interviewer, asked Moffat about previous criticism of his female characters and the “sexism” in his writing. Critic Clare Jones once accused Moffat, for his Doctor Who writing, of plucking female characters “from a box marked ‘tired old tropes’ (drip/scold/temptress/earth mother to name but a few)” and adding, “His consequent failure to sketch a compelling dynamic between the lead and his companion has seriously affected the show’s dramatic power.”

Moffat rejected the criticism and cited two leading female characters he created for Doctor Who, River Song and Amy Pond. “Hardly weak women. It’s the exact opposite. You could accuse me of having a fetish for powerful, sexy women who like cheating people. That would be fair.” Moffat said that some coverage had him pegged as, “An insane, right wing misogynist. I’m really none of these things. And I’m certainly no proselytiser for docile women, this heavily subscribed-to myth. I don’t know where it came from. I have never known a docile woman. I come through the front door and I f****** salute the dog.”

“The great thing now,” said Moffat, “is I write for my own pleasure. I can write whatever I want.”

On being photographed for The Guardian, Moffat admitted, “I hate this. I’ve always hated being photographed from the days when we’d do cast shots for Doctor Who and all these gorgeous people – Jenna, Matt – would be standing next to this plum duff. In the end I just went with it, turning up in old clothes with food spilled down my t-shirt, safe in the knowledge nobody was really looking at me.”

Inside Man begins on BBC One on Monday 26th September.

Frank Danes

Steven Moffat Talks Doctor Who, Female Characters, and Sexism

by Frank Danes time to read: 2 min
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