Steven Moffat reveals how long he expected Smith to stay on the series and when he might announce the next Doctor.
Last month, Matt Smith shocked “Doctor Who” fans by announcing his departure from the series following this year’s Christmas special. But one man who was not surprised was “Doctor Who” showrunner, Steven Moffat.
While speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Moffat revealed that Smith had already set his preferred departure point years before.
“I’ve known broadly speaking for a very long while because I knew how long, when [Smith] first came in, he was broadly speaking intending to do,” explained Moffat. “And obviously, being the man I am, I always tried to persuade him to do longer and to do more and he [stayed] a little bit longer than he intended to. I knew that he would do what most of them do and do his three years. It’s a difficult thing for any departing Doctor.”
“Curiously enough, it was really to me that David Tennant resigned,” continued Moffat. “Because he was considering whether to continue now that I was taking over. And both of them went through the same experience. It’s not like leaving any other part, it really isn’t. It’s sort of like abdicating [the throne] and it’s genuinely emotional, it’s upsetting. It’s an upheaval in your life. It’s something you really have to contemplate.”
Moffat added that he remembers “what both of them said during their period of anguish — when they were contemplating letting somebody else into the TARDIS — they both said, ‘There’s part of me, I would just stay doing it forever. So, if I don’t leave now, maybe I’ll just carry on forever. And that wouldn’t be right for me or the show.’ It was a difficult, emotional experience for both of them.”
According to Moffat, the next Doctor has not been cast. However, the announcement may come very quickly after Moffat finds his man... or woman.
“Unless we have an insane plan, we’ll announce a new Doctor within days of finalizing the new Doctor,” said Moffat. “Because it’s very very hard to keep any kind of a secret. The last time, when we chose Matt, we had to hold over on that one, because there was a Christmas Doctor Who special called ]The Next Doctor’ for which Russell [T. Davies] was playing the game of pretending it was going to be David Morrissey. So we couldn’t deflate that. [Laughs]. But I think we’ll go public pretty fast.”
Moffat also reiterated that the new Doctor will make his (or her) debut during the closing moments of this year’s Christmas special.
“It’ll be the traditional regeneration,” noted Moffat. “You know, the eleventh will fall and the twelfth shall rise. And you’ll see that in the closing moments of the show. I mean, you sometimes sit and think, ‘Are there better ways of doing it? Is there a different way of doing it?’ But quite honestly what could be better than that? It’s just too exciting. [Laughs]”
The “Doctor Who” 50th Anniversary Special will air November 23, with the Christmas special to follow on December 25.