Doctor Who Moffat, Smith and Gillan

Published on February 20th, 2014 | by Jonathan Appleton

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Karen Gillan Challenges Moffat Character Criticisms

Karen Gillan has said she can’t understand why Steven Moffat has come in for criticism over his depiction of female characters in Doctor Who.

Asked what she made of what’s emerging as one of the brickbats aimed most persistently at the show-runner, Karen was quick to defend her former boss:

I just don’t understand that because I feel like I had a very rounded, interesting, flawed and layered character to play. And I wore skirts but Steven Moffat had nothing to do with that! He doesn’t care about costumes. So I don’t really understand that if I’ve got to be honest.

Amy Pond had perhaps the most complete and well-realised journey of any regular character ever seen in Doctor Who, of course, so it’s unsurprising Karen should speak up for the writer who oversaw her time on the series, and there’s no doubting that Moffat’s time in charge has included a number of strong female roles (Amy, River, Clara, Madame Vastra). Against that, some would argue that Moffat’s brand of sassy, wisecracking, sexually confident women who flirt with the Doctor is becoming passé.

What do you think? A golden age for female characters? Or is there a problem with how Moffat writes women?

(Via Doctor Who TV.)

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About the Author

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Jonathan remembers catching Tony Hughes's Doctor in BBC Schools Mathsshow when he was off school in 1975. This more than made up for having chickenpox. Something of an old hand by this time, he had learned from The Doctor Who Monster Book that there were other Doctors and adventures to discover - an exciting prospect for a five year old.




11 Responses to Karen Gillan Challenges Moffat Character Criticisms


  1. All I can say is leave the man alone and if anyone complains try putting yourself in his position and think if you can do any better.

  2. avatar John Miller says:

    The criticism isn’t against female characters. It’s the same tired old crap about there HAS TO be a female Doctor. Moffat cast first Matt Smith and now Peter Capaldi as the Doctor (You can count John Hurt as well, in fact). They’re all male. There are some sad people who have no real interests if their own, so they find a “cause”, and go on and on about it. The “female Doctor” one seems to be pretty popular with these idiots right now.

    • avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

      I see some crude feminist militant has down-thumbed you because you posted something that is to the rest of us common sense!

      • avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

        It’s reassuring to see that the die-hard feminist militants are in the minority here! Sadly, logic eludes them when it concerns thier sorry excuse for an unnecessary ’cause’!

  3. avatar TonyS says:

    Criticism of the show is a valid form of expression, provided that it is done in a calm and reasoned manner and does not descend into vituperative and personal attacks.

    The fact that we could not do any better does not preclude us from having and expressing opinions.

    John, not everything is about whether the Doctor should be played by a woman or not. In fact a cogent argument from those opposed to a female Doctor is exactly that strong female characters are needed in their own right.

    A criticism that has been levelled at Mr Moff is that, far from creating strong female characters, he creates female characters that are either male clones or pander to preconceptions of what a woman should be like. Discuss. Write on both sides of the paper. use illustrations and pie-charts if necessary…

  4. avatar TimeChaser says:

    I don’t think the charges against the Moff have much foundation. Yes, there has been a tendency toward this more flirty relationship between the Doctor and the female companion in the new series, something that didn’t even start with Moffat. They tried to get away from that with Ten and Donna by making their relationship more like best mates, and perhaps that is what the Twleve/Clara relationship will settle down into in time.

    But if you think about it, strong sassy women are not exclusive to Doctor Who of the new century. Liz, Sarah Jane, and Romana fit this type as well. The ‘sexually confident’ has only come about now because the TV brass have gotten past their fears and its now perfectly fine to let women to display that side as well, which I think is a good thing.

    • avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

      The fact 10 and Donna had that ‘best mates’ relationship is one of the reasons I personally think they have been the best combination since the show returned! 2nd Doctor and Jamie, 3rd Doctor and Jo, 4th Doctor and Sarah, 7th Doctor and Ace… All of them best buddies!!!

  5. avatar dimphoenix says:

    Donna Noble, Sarah Jane and Martha Jones all had better and more realized journeys and the actresses playing them are all far superior to Gillan’s two-note (arrogant and tantrum-throwing) portrayal of Amy Pond. Moffat clearly prefers women in his stories to be mysterious cyphers or lovesick waifs who wait for their man to show up and save them. Even River waits for years in prison for the Doctor to take her on dates.

    I still shake my head in disbelief that Amy Pond wouldn’t search for her missing child for most of the child’s life on the Doctor’s say-so and the revelation that she’s her friend Mel. That’s not OK! What mother would just accept she’s missed her baby’s childhood? Count me among the many that can’t wait for Moffat to be gone as showrunner. Tired of the Emperor’s old clothes already.

    • avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

      Amy and Rory did NOT miss out on River’s childhood. As you even state yourself, they grew up WITH her as Mels. Try in future to no contradict yourself so blatantly in the space of one short sentences :)

  6. avatar Geoff says:

    I too really didn’t like the development that a River was Amy and Rory’s child, not that I disliked the idea itself but like Dimphoenix I can’t reconcile their subsequent actions with those of any parent who’s child is abducted from them.

    However back on topic: I think your reviewer sums it up perfectly. Mr Moffat writes in a certain style (your reviewer calls it a brand I think) now it’s not always my cup of tea (I’m not much of a fan of his female characters in anything he’s ever written) but generally I think his style is snappy, easily accessible (by that I mean it’s instantly entertaining, not that the plots are always easy to follow) and he does have some very good ideas.

    As for whether his style has had its time, we’ll find out in a few months but indications are that he’s actively going in a new direction so let’s give the man a chance before the daggers get drawn shall we?

  7. avatar Tommo says:

    I see accusations of misogyny thrown at him regularly, and while I can understand where that comes from, I don’t think it’s a dislike of women that is at the heart of the problem.

    I think that deep down, he has a firm idea of what in his mind a “strong woman” should be, and for me his biggest flaw is that he repeats the same OTT characteristics and traits over and over.
    Tasha Lem, River Song, Sally Sparrow, Mary Watson, Madame Vastra, Claire Jackman, Liz X, Irene Adler… the ones in coupling who I can’t remember, and can’t be arsed Googling… even bloody Madame Kovarian… ALL have the same sly smirk, the same “don’t mess with me” the same “sass” the same sense of humour, and are ALL far cleverer and so much better at everything than any man who is on the same bloody planet as them.
    He seems to be trying to establish his feminist credentials in the same way that some folk will say, “I don’t mind gays/blacks/Kosovans/Tories/Chelsea fans… I’ve even got some who are friends!”

    The intention is well meant, but you just find yourself cringing at the boisterous naivety of it…

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