Departing Doctor Who lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat has been discussing this year’s Christmas special, Twice Upon a Time.
The festive special – Moffat’s final story for the show – will see Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor regenerate into a new incarnation, played by Jodie Whittaker.
On how the regeneration fits into the special as a whole, Moffat said:
“This episode is somewhere between a coda and drumroll. It’s a coda to the time of the Twelfth Doctor played by Peter Capaldi, and a drumroll to usher in the Thirteenth Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker.
“Approaching it, one issue I had was that The Doctor Falls (this year’s series finale) was the end of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. That episode saw the Twelfth Doctor stating what he stands for and standing on the hill on which he was prepared to die.
“That was the end of his story. But – as often happens in stories and real life – it didn’t end there. He kept going, he started to regenerate, so at Christmas what we’re going to see is a man weary and tired and, having made his point and having made his stand and given his life for something that matters, he has to learn just how to carry on after that.”
“But of course this being Doctor Who and Christmas it’s much warmer and hopeful than that, so in perfect timing walking towards him out of the snow he meets earliest incarnation. The William Hartnell version of the Doctor – played now by David Bradley in an astonishing performance – and the two of them are about to regenerate.
“Tonally it’s about saying “to hell with dying, let’s get on with living”. And what’s more Christmassy that that? It’s the turn of the year, a time for new beginnings, it’s the time when we start climbing back towards the light.”
Moffat – who has contributed at least one script to every series since the show’s return in 2005 – also reflected on writing his final script for the show:
“The truth about writing anything is that it’s always difficult. You can change the reason why it’s difficult, but the fact is it’s just always difficult!
“Throughout writing this I wanted to feel more about the fact it’s the last one I’ll ever write, and I wanted to feel more about it’s the last one Peter will ever play, but the truth is that the technicality and the difficulty and the demands on your creativity – all that overwhelms you to the point where you’re just trying to write a great Doctor Who story!
“That’s enough to contend with – you can’t have the real life drama of two old Scotsmen making their way to the door.”
He also observed that, due to the collaborative process he enjoyed with Capaldi during the filming of the regeneration, the pair ended up being ‘probably the least emotional on set’ as all their emotions went into the show:
“Once we got into shooting it, however, and especially when we approached filming Peter’s last moments as the Doctor which were done at the end of the shoot, we did talk more about how exactly he should meet his end.
“We were both very pleased with that final section of the script already, but as we went through piece by piece we thought there were ways to improve it so I’d be banging out new pages each night for us to discuss on set each day.
“That was so enjoyable and exciting to do – to really feel that we were getting his send off right – that in a way it took whatever emotions we were both having about leaving and put them on screen where they belong.”
Twice Upon a Time airs on Christmas Day at 5:30pm on BBC One.