Doctor Who Regeneration

Published on November 20th, 2013 | by Alex Skerratt

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Steven Moffat: Doctor Who is Immortal

In 1989, when the BBC’s Head of Series Peter Cregeen told fans to expect “a longer than usual wait” for Doctor Who‘s next outing, not even the Time Lords could have foreseen the 16 year wilderness that followed.

In a recent interview with the Radio Times, show runner Steven Moffat has commented on this controversial hiatus-cum-cancellation, and what it meant for the show’s enduring legacy.

That gap is important. It confers something very special on this most special of all shows: immortality. Doctor Who, for once and for all, is the show that comes back. Axe it at your peril, someone like me is going to call you a fool, and lots of people like you are going to read along and nod.

Moffat also remarked that the audience “just said no” in way that had never happened in British television before, meaning that the programme “just kept on going.”

While the BBC folded its arms and shook its head, there were books by the likes of Russell T Davies, Mark Gatiss and Paul Cornell. There were audio adventures, starring all the old Doctors. There was an action-packed American tele-film, and endless rumours of Hollywood movies. Doctor Who Magazine, whose purpose was to document the making of the TV show, carried on perfectly happily without the TV show being made.

In some ways, it could be argued that those 16 years were some of the most prolific in the show’s history. Many fans encountered the Doctor for the very first time thanks to the range of products that suddenly popped up on the shelves, (this article’s author being one such fan), and there’s no denying that it’s a significant, if slightly painful, chapter in the life of Doctor Who.

So is the show now immortal? Well, as the nineties proved, it’s a programme that’s very, very difficult to kill…

(Via Radio Times.)

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11 Responses to Steven Moffat: Doctor Who is Immortal

  1. avatar TimeChaser says:

    As long as the fans keep it alive one way or another, even if it’s not on TV, it will remain alive. Its got the same longevity as other major sci-fi franchises such as Star Trek and Star Wars that still have momentum after decades.

  2. avatar BOJAY says:

    The “Wilderness Years” were not an end of any kind, or even an interruption. They were a side road off a main path. An opportunity for Doctor Who to get some distance from itself, so that, while it was impossible to remain as it was, it became possible for it to head towards, engage, and embrace what it could become. It came of age during it’s journey, and got beyond the restraints and limitations that were formerly imposed upon it. And here it is. And here we are.

    • avatar TimeChaser says:

      Oh, that’s deep. Wish I’d thought of it. ;)

  3. avatar stlshawn says:

    I have sometimes wondered what would have happened if who had evolved in that time. We saw the weirdness that came over the star trek universe, but DW (I believe) would have come a different path and taken more from the 90′s X-files / Twin Peaks genre. Unfortunately, either way, it would have been all brooding and introverted, and probably not good (although better than a big Enterprise with wall to wall carpeting, fake plants, and a bunch of overly puffy chairs).

    Anyway, I think the 90′s hiatus was a good thing all in all. Having spent the beginning of my adult life in the 90′s, I am glad DW missed it. There is one little caveat,,,, the McGann movie was great because it was something different than the piles of weirdness on TV in 1996. I believe that Canadian reboot should have gone ahead.

  4. avatar Al says:

    I think the efforts of Nick Briggs, Mark Gatiss, BBV, Reeltime, DWM, Audio Visuals, Big Finish, Virgin Books, BBC Books, and so many others on keeping Who alive all those years needs more applause like this.

  5. avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    I first was introduced to the series proper during the BBC 2 repeats in the early 90′s. I am one of that generation that does not have ‘their’ doctor. I was exposed to them one after another more or less, in quick succession, in some of their best stories. The 90′s – however bleak it was in hindsight – was instrumental in me (and many others my age) being introduced to and falling in love with the show, it’s characters, stories and scope. Would I change anything? Probably not – although it’s tempting to imagine what might have been if certain decisions were made/not made in the past. Despite what transpired, we were graced with 26 beautiful seasons and a TV Movie. We were graced with 8 brilliant actors portraying their own version of our eternal hero. There were countless more actors and actresses playing his best friends during his travels. There were even more memorable moments throughout in some of the most imaginatively and ambitiously told stories on TV (or any other media you can mention). As it stands today, we have the Big Finish audios, Virgin Novels, BBC Novels, DWM etc that kept the magic alive. We certainly never went without. Here I am, with a young daughter who loves the show too, just days away from the 50th anniversary. It is bigger than ever. We ‘geeks’ have been proven right! And do you know what, in a small way, it was people like me and you that kept the show alive enough for RTD to finally succeed in bringing it back in 2005! That night Rose was broadcast we were vindicated and made the ‘wilderness years’ just that. They were not the end!

    • avatar Paddy says:

      Well said sir. I got into the show through those same repeats. Daemons, then Genesis, then Androzani, then Revelation and finally Battlefield. Later on Planet of the Daleks and Pyramids of Mars. And of course the telemovie. It was a great introduction to the whole show for a kid, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

      • avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

        Don’t forget The Sea Devils :)

  6. avatar Seed of DOOM says:

    This interview actually worries me, more than assures me. It seems boastful and challenging to some degree, and ‘Auntie Beeb’ may view it as such. Also, it’s usually not a good idea to tell a television executive they’re ‘wrong’ about something. The minute the show stumbles it may find the ‘helping hands’ aren’t there anymore. We got lucky with RTD getting involved, I would hate to see the show set itself up for another multi-year gap.

    • avatar Bob James says:

      Viewing figures, merchandising and popularity would have to dramatically fall for that to happen. In the late eighties Doctor Who hadn’t nearly the worldwide platform it does now, nor did the world at large have so much access to it. Here and now is nothing like those times. The show’s profile is high, it’s global popularity large, and the revenue being generated for BBC worldwide is massive. A longer period between series? This may happen. A gap of nearly a decade? Not likely.


    • BBC Worldwide has a far bigger say in things these days. As long as DW is coining it in for them worldwide, it is unlikely to be dropped.

      But then, why worry. It came back once, it can come back again. The resurrection was largely driven by the creativity of the off-air years.

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