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Published on May 23rd, 2012 | by Andrew Reynolds

Moffat Attacks ‘Fairly Stupid’ Fans

If you were hoping that Doctor Who would tone down its complicated plots and pander to the confused chapter of its audience well, forget it.

An unapologetic Steven Moffat told BAFTA Guru that disgruntled viewers of Doctor Who should ‘pay attention’ and ‘think about’ his dramas:

“There’s been a weird backlash among, I presume, fairly stupid people about the fact the shows are complicated and clever, but they’re both huge international hits.”

Forget doing the ironing; there will be no passive viewing. Moffat wants open mindedness and not, reductive views of sci-fi and genre fiction:

“They follow intricately plotted soap operas all the time. It depresses me when people say, ‘It’s all far too clever’.”

Being ambitious and promoting intelligent engagement shouldn’t be seen as a fault; Doctor Who invites viewers to believe they are above average and vicariously rewards fans curiosity with rich, complicated stories; Sherlock fetishizes intelligence. Both should be spoken of as the best television this country produces.

While it isn’t particularly productive to label the minority of viewers left cold by Moffat’s clinical plots ‘fairly stupid’ it’s easy to empathise with his frustrations.

That doesn’t always mean his plots fit together well, or that all the ideas come off with the right balance of emotional heft and intelligent dexterity but as long as he keeps producing drama with that aim – they’ll always be an audience willing to engage with them.

But how long will he stay?

“The moment it’s time to stop on a show is not an ambiguous feeling – you just suddenly think, ‘I can’t do it anymore; I’ve had enough’.”





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About the Author


Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

10 Responses to Moffat Attacks ‘Fairly Stupid’ Fans

  1. avatar Ned says:

    He is, of course, right. It’s hardly rocket science. There are plenty of reality shows out there for the simpletons. People who are able to read without moving their lips deserve to have TV shows aimed at them too.

  2. avatar Caity says:

    He is of course right – for adults. However, he must remember that the programme is also for children. My two children are 8 and 6 and they got confused during the last series with what was happening and how things related, with the result that they got bored and stopped watching. And my friends related similar feelings in their own children.

    You can get too clever for your own good, Mr Moffat.

  3. I wonder if we could find an example of another show or film that has complicated time travel concepts and judge how we dealt with them at the time…

    Such as Back to the Future Pt 2. I wouldn’t say anything in Series 6 was any more complicated than that film, a cinematic experience that I adored at the time because I *got it* while watching. The 14 year old me was also enjoying time travel conundrums in Marvel’s Transformer’s comic too.

    Although I sympathise with Caity (and wonder how my own children would deal with Moff-era DW when they grow a bit older) I’m not sure Moffat is being too clever for his own good. I think he’s right pointing at the ridiculous plots of soaps, and pushing any plot that gets children thinking about things is good for them, whether they ultimately understand it or not, surely?

  4. avatar TonyS says:

    I find myself more in sympathy with the article than with the Moff. I too can understand, even applaud, a desire to create intelligent television. I can understand that Mr Moffat gets frustrated at criticism. However, I am not convinced that the best way to win viewers over is to brand a section of his audience “fairly stupid”.

    I found season 6 very complicated. By this, I do not mean that I struggled to follow the plot strands. I felt that the season was being clever just to show how clever the makers were being. Rather like the Doctor at his most irritating. I also do not think the plots always held together that well.

    I do not have children of my own, but I have in the past worked with children between the ages of 5 and 11 for many years. Unfortunately I have not been able to canvass the opinions of children on the last season. I do, however, suspect that Caity is correct. If the complicated plots and ongoing story arc were to serve the narrative, I would be more inclined to invest energy in tryng to follow them. Because of my perception (possibly mistaken, but there you go) that the makers are simply showing off, I did not feel inclined to do so.

    We all know that the Moff is highly intelligent and can handle complicated plot threads. Please can he get back to story telling now? I hope that season 7 with its more self-contained stories will deliver the return to form.

  5. avatar francis cave says:

    Well I am clearly very stupid because some of the last series, and indeed the series before that, have left me totally confused.

    Cheers Mr Moffatt, I do love being insulted it really makes my day….

  6. avatar Scott Varnham says:

    I’m just grateful for the return of Evil Moffat :D

  7. avatar Simon Spencer says:

    I do partly understand his position; channels in Britain have gotten into the habit before of telling people what’s going to happen in an episode paractically before it starts. Why? Because it’s copied from the Americans, and a substantial number of people don’t want to actually think about working out the riddle in an episode!

    It’s a disgrace and detracts from the overall suspense. If they can’t be bothered, they probably shouldn’t watch the show, because 90% of it most of the time is meant to be a conundrum.

  8. avatar Victor says:

    He’s bang on as far as I can tell. Go on The Moffat! He’s speaking his mind, which is his right; if you choose to take offence, then please grow up.

  9. avatar Josh says:

    All Steven Muppet’s fans are stupid. That’s why they’re his fans. Anyone who agrees look up my critical reviews of some of his episodes on Youtube, my channel name is LegoDaleks.

  10. avatar Joe says:

    The people who call Moffat or Dr. Who stupid, are perhaps the same brainless idiots who also watch and find Duck Dynastcy, or the Kardasians to be great TV shows. Reality TV fans are the stupid ones.

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