Skip to content

EXCLUSIVE Interview with Doctor Who: Kill The Moon writer, Peter Harness

This interview contains spoilers for Kill the Moon.On Tuesday we caught up with the lovely Peter Harness who wrote tomorrow’s Doctor Who episode, Kill the Moon!

Some of Peter’s answers have not been included yet due to spoilers, check back on Sunday for those!

What was the pitch for Kill the Moon?

“The Moon is actually an egg. And it starts to hatch.”

The story was initially written for Matt Smith’s Doctor – how do you think it’s changed with the Twelfth Doctor?

Well, I didn’t get very far into writing it for Matt’s Doctor. It didn’t progress much beyond an initial outline, so I think I pretty much started from scratch when it came to writing it for Peter’s Doctor. I’m very glad that it ended up being for this series, because the new, more alien Doctor really fitted into the story very well, and his new character suggested different ways that the story could go. I don’t feel we could have gone into the dramatic territory that we have done if this had been made with Matt Smith’s Doctor. It would have been different, it would have gone in another direction. With Peter’s Doctor, it’s become darker, more dramatic, more scary.

What were your reasons for adding Courtney into the story?

Because I’d always wanted Clara to take one of her pupils along – or when she was a Nanny, one of the kids that she looked after. I’d wanted the story to have a dramatic tension between her duty of care towards the child and whatever happens on the Moon. And when I read the script of “The Caretaker”, I really just fell in love with Courtney as a character and I saw lots of exciting and interesting places that I could take her in “Kill The Moon”. So I pinched her.

Was the episode influenced by any particular era of the show?

Steven told me told “Hinchcliffe the s**t out of it” – for the first half at least – so I suppose there’s definitely that influence there. I mean, that’s really my favourite era of Classic Who, so I guess I would try to pay tribute to that anyway. But really, that influence aside, I was really trying my hardest to write something new. Something that had aspects which haven’t really been seen before; something that had a slightly different tone. As a fan, I’m aware of the huge weight of the history of the show on one’s shoulders, and I didn’t want to be accused of writing something derivative.

How much were you told about the Promised Land story arc?

I can’t remember. To be honest, I tried my hardest not to read any more of the other scripts than I had to. I wanted to be surprised by watching them when they were broadcast. I did have to read a couple of them, but when I did so, I did my best to forget them straight away. Usually, I’d just ask Steven whether it was okay to do this or that, whether that interfered with what he was setting up; and he’d say, “that’s not quite the way things are heading  – but if you do this, then that’ll probably fit in okay.” So I managed to stay spoiler-free until late in the day, when I was made to read the last two episodes because they had some bearing on what I did with SPOILER.

The episode marks a big shift in the Clara/Doctor dynamic – what do you think is the difference between Clara’s relationships with the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors?

Oddly, she seems to me to have opened up more with the Twelfth Doctor. She seems to have become more of a friend. The element of sexual tension which was vaguely there has gone, and it’s caused her to re-evaluate her relationship with him. And they’ve gradually got to know each other (just as we’ve gradually got to know both of them), and they’ve become pretty good friends, and their relationship has matured. I don’t quite know where it goes after “Kill The Moon”, which is a bit of a game-changer as far as their relationship goes; but I hope they can patch up their differences and move on. I’d love to see Clara stick around for a long time. I think she’ll end up being one of the best and most fondly-remembered companions ever, thanks largely to Jenna Coleman’s brilliance and charm.

Kill the Moon was partially filmed in Lanzarote – how did it feel seeing your episode filmed abroad?

It felt very good – I think it was an inspired decision to recreate the Moon there. It looks fantastic. But I’ve been very spoiled this year. I’ve had Doctor Who in Lanzarote; Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in Canada and Croatia, and Wallander in Sweden. Unfortunately, I haven’t followed any of them to their various locations – apart from Wallander, but that’s only because I live in Sweden.

The episode shows a darker side to the Twelfth Doctor – what was it like going to darker places with a character that’s traditionally a hero?

He is a hero, of course, but he’s always had his dark side. The First Doctor, in those early stories, was as dark as hell sometimes. And that aspect of him has never gone away, it’s just varied in intensity. I don’t feel that I go to a terribly, shockingly dark place. I just go somewhere a little different. And he does something in my episode that he may well have done in other incarnations – but just not in exactly the same way.

Many thanks to Peter for taking the time out to chat to us! Follow him on Twitter: @mrpeterharness

Don’t forget to check out our spoiler-free preview of the episode here and our teasers here.