It’s no quiet fact anymore that Doctor Who Showrunner Steven Moffat has picked up a lot of vicious criticism from some Doctor Who fans, unhappy with what he has done with the show after taking over from predecessor Russell T Davies in 2010.
For the average Doctor Who fan it could come as quite a shock to read and hear the passionately angry views and comments on some forums and within the harsher debates held by a growing number of fans, particularly as Moffat has secured the job of showrunner for an additional Series following the upcoming Series 9.
In the most recent Doctor Who Magazine (#488) Moffat sounded defiant, calling to mind another former Doctor Who Showrunner, John Nathan Turner. Moffat says:
[John Nathan-Turner] was the first boss of Doctor Who to have a tiny little number of (sort of) fans who were waging entirely ineffectual campaigns against him, in their twos and threes. Russell had a bit of that, and so do I. So what? Pick an online newspaper, go to the comments section below, read the ranting horrors there. It will turn your hair white. Dear God, who are those people? I don’t know. I don’t care.
The fact is, you don’t judge the newspaper, or people in general, by the standards of those comments sections, so why would you judge Doctor Who fandom by the occasional attention-seeking ranter? I have always found [fans] to be clever, funny, articulate and more than usually friendly. And perfectly and humorously aware that knowing every detail about an early Saturday evening adventure serial is a pleasant but extremely daft thing to do. May it be daft forever. It is now, and always has been, a game for the civilised and kind. Lone exceptions don’t change that.
In a very human manner, Moffat does concede he has felt some hurt by the more extreme forms of criticism:
I suppose, being honest – because we’re all human and fragile – some of the blows do land. You know, when you’re tired, in the dark watches of the night, when that hand is grasping for your ankle from under the bed. I guess it must have been hard for JN-T, sometimes, back in the day. I remember, not long ago, feeling a bit grim myself, about some vicious remarks. Stupidly and childishly, I’d let them get to me (ranters rejoice, your aim was true).
Moffat explains how he was offered some comforting words from fellow sci-fi author Neil Gaiman:
Neil Gaiman dropped me a gentle note. He said (something like), “They love your shows so much, they think they own them.” I think the point – and the kindly admonishment – was that it’s a privilege to be making shows about which people care so much, and that honour should take care of everything else.