Doctor Who News Doctor Who chief Steven Moffat

Published on July 11th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

50th Anniversary “movie-length” says Moffat

Ever since some BBC Worldwide publicity material at some toy fairs earlier this year stated that the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special would be just 60 minutes long, fandom has been up in arms (hey, what’s new?). Happily, we can report that this was an error.


Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Steven Moffat has confirmed that the episode is “well over an hour”.

It’s a special episode. I think you could call it movie-length, yeah. I mean, I’m saying that with a slight hint of vagueness because I don’t know the finished running time. [Laughs] It’s certainly well over an hour.

Moffat goes on to discuss the effect of having David Tennant and Matt Smith on set together, and the way they interacted off-screen.

They really loved each other and had a huge laugh together. And of course they’ve been through this experience that only the two of them can talk about, really, in the modern world. They are the two people that have played that part at a time when the series is this big. They spent the entire time just sitting together talking animatedly.

But what about on-screen?

Well, when you’re talking to yourself, there’s no filter! You don’t spare yourself! They’re quite a fun pairing, I would say. There’s a bit of the normal joshing of each other but they’re both such enthusiastic Doctors. While they might be sort of competing slightly, they’re both standing there saying, “Oh god, it’s so cool, there’s two of me!”

So, it’s very different. I think the other one that worked brilliantly was Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton. They were incredibly funny together. This is very different from that but it’s a sublime double act.

Funny? Sublime? Is it November yet?


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

21 Responses to 50th Anniversary “movie-length” says Moffat

  1. avatar castellanspandrel says:

    He also said in the same interview that the regeneration happens at the end of the Xmas special, in a ‘traditional’ way, which should put to bed the theory endorsed by some on here that Matt Smith will regenerate at the end of the special.

    • avatar TonyS says:

      It would have that effect if Steven Moffat were known for his strict adherence to the complete truth.

      • avatar vortexter says:

        The Gospel according to Moffatt. He told me the Doctor was really dead in the Impossible Astronaut as well but…

  2. avatar Howard Railton says:

    Give us the original past Doctors, not a John Hurt FAKE!!!!!!

    • avatar zarbisupremo says:

      So you’ve seen the special and know that the other Doctors aren’t included in any way, shape or form ? Oh… you haven’t ? Quit whinging then !!!

      • avatar TonyS says:

        Agreed. Let’s judge the 50th anniversary special by what appears on the screen in November and not on a couple of minutes at the end of TNOTD or on speculation as to what John Hurt’s character will be doing.

        • avatar Al says:

          I’m also amazed that people don’t seem to understand that TNOTD was part 1 of the special and included appearances by all 11 Doctors in some fashion. People are whinging about something that has ALREADY HAPPENED. They don’t need to do it in Part 2.

          • For Paul McGann it didn’t happen….there was only a blink and you miss him appearance and his head was cut off AND it was a stand in not even him!

          • avatar Francis Cave says:

            Ah so that would include the appearance by the eighth doctor which lasted about a second and that you wouldn’t actually notice unless you freeze framed the picture?

  3. I’m with Howard on this one. No we don’t know if the past Doctors are in it or not but if DWM is anything to go by then….no they’re not. For one thing I am getting sick of all the attention (though lately not as much is happening) that Smith and Tennant are getting (and this article is just another one that puts the limelight on just these two Doctors) plus the attention that two actors who previously have never had anything to do with DW…David Bradley and John Hurt…are getting from being associated with the 50th anniversary. If the past Doctors are in the 50th then obviously it’s being kept secret and because of that they are getting no attention. Just once I’d like to read about what the chemistry was like between Paul McGann and David Tennant or Peter Davidson and Matt Smith. I’m sick to death of Tennant and Smith and what they may have joked about on set or had for lunch. I want to read more about the classic Doctors. I hate the way the 50th anniversary is being handled….it’s such an insult to the classic Doctors. I only hope the next four months will see more focus on the classic Doctors but I’m not holding my breath.

    • avatar Endy says:

      Oh dear here we we go again sulky Doctor Who fan chucks out baby with bath water. it annoys me so much. Please tell me most of you are enjoying the build up to the big weekend as much as me. And for once I got tickets for the official BBC convention on the very day, and guess who is coming along to chat at least three classic series Doctors. Perhaps the BBC have not forgotten them! Funny none of the old Doctors mentioned they were booked when they were denying they had even heard from the BBC, because I bet they were booked months ago. Fancy keeping stuff like this from proper fans!! How very dare they. Bad people pandering to those of us who like nice surprises.
      But seriously as someone pointed out they have already honored all the Doctors in the show this year and not for the first time in new Who whilst the BBC are also making a lengthy drama about the early years. Just exactly what else do you want before you stop moaning?
      On top of all this I for one hope Moffat is lying about most things and that there are lots more surprises to come.. He is still vague about the length of the episode or maybe episodes or indeed who is in them?
      I like Paul McCann by the way . Love some of his Big Finish stuff but never knew he had such a big base of fans angry he has not got a starring role in the special. Not bad for a one off TV show which fans did not even want to accept as cannon at the time. Probably the same fans!
      If all we get in the end is a movie length special and similar length docu drama, proms and big party, oh and Big Finish and comics and a blockbuster Christmas special then that is pretty good going. More would be nice I agree, but that is just me being very greedy.
      The other thing fans loose sight of is the issue of money. Unlike most shows we get beautifully remaster classic stories with animated episodes where needed. Yet fans moan at the BBC for trying to get the most back from these ventures. Talk about biting the hand that feeds us.Also the vast majority of the huge world wide audience is into new Who. Sadly a big part for Paul or a 70 odd year old Tom probably would not mean a great deal to them.
      For the big lovers of classic Who (I love both with all my heart) we have the Big Finish special to look forward to which sounds brilliant.
      Honestly when you think of everything that’s going on it is just fantastic. Please me happy. This is as good as it will ever be.

      • Excuse me but I couldn’t even finish reading your comment. You are so annoyed about people like me who are a little upset at the way the 50th plans are going but you sound just as bad when you complain about us! Too bad for you to have to endure the comments by some of us who voice an opinion that doesn’t reflect the utmost praise and happiness for the upcoming 50th. It must be so hard for you to have to put up with all of us spoiled brats. Look some of us are not happy. You’re just gonna have to accept that. Is that really so hard?

        • avatar Endy says:

          Frankly yes it is! You nor I have full knowledge of what is happening. If it turns out to be poor then I will be very disappointed and sad. As of now we have no way of knowing, so what exactly are people not happy about?
          I know Mat is leaving because that is fact and I am sad and disappointed. I think it is a huge shame. he still had so much to do. So I am not saying people should always be happy.
          With all the good stuff going on I do wonder what would make some people ever be happy. A few years ago we would have got the Big Finish special and a book or two.
          We all have our own things we would like to see happen in the special and let’s face it most won’t. Such a diverse show loved by millions can never please everyone all the time.
          I also worry that negativity could damage this wonderful show but then there have always been negatives so I am probably over reacting.
          Most of all I just don’t get it. Judging something before its happened seems strange to me and wrong. It’s like reviewing a book before you have read it. Famously someone gave a west end play a terrible review causing it to close after six weeks. He had never seen the play!
          You say you have even judged me and the point I was making without reading most of what I said!
          In the end you may turn out to be right but I so hope you are not.
          This is such a happy time for the show. But even if the special turns out to be the best episode ever and I am not saying it will, some fans have become so convinced that it’s bad they will just not be able to enjoy it.
          All I am saying is keep an open mind. And if you can’t and have read all my ramblings this time then worry not. The chap who put all those actor out of work by slagging of a play he had never seen has a daily tv show now!

          • avatar Lewis Seymour says:

            Very well said.

  4. avatar Paul Blume says:

    All I want from Moffat, at this point, is a little less p.r. and a little more craft.

  5. avatar Colin says:

    Two thoughts. First, depending on one’s definition of “movie length,” I’m not surprised. The Five Doctors was, after all, “movie length.” Why not the 50th Anniversary Special?

    Second, I agree with TonyS. In the past, Who producers have never directly lied about future plans, plots, and such. They’ve been evasive, or just kept quiet and, on occasion, managed to get the media to comply with that silence (e.g., Earthshock). I think Moffat, however, is the first to tell out-and-out porky pies in order to maintain secrecy. In this age of blogs, twitter, mobile phones, and instant news, I can understand his approach.

    The bottom line: let’s not assume anything until the show is broadcast–even if it’s from an “official source.” After all, complaining isn’t going to change anything now. Why not save the complaints for afterwards when we know what actually did (or didn’t) happen? :)

    • avatar TonyS says:

      Well said, Colin.

  6. avatar Chris Pederson says:

    Over an hour, very good. Also, he does have me thinkin git will be fun to see them together. I hope they have some actual competition and barbs with each other while they’re at it.

  7. avatar daniel says:

    To some people on here, theres so much viriol and anger that you would make A good dalek

  8. avatar TonyS says:

    Can we please remember what brings us together? We love this programme. It is in its 50th year. This is a good thing. We are celebrating. Now, I am not saying that we have to be happy with everything that goes on. It is possible to dislike episodes without running the risk of others calling our liking of the programme into question. We are a broad spectrum and can tolerate opinions with which we do not agree. But let’s take some time to reflect not on what divides us but on what unites us. “Doctor Who” will be 50 years old in November! Let’s party.

    • avatar vortexter says:

      This man speaks the truth. Listen to him.

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