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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 500 > Steven Moffat

Steven Moffat

As he prepares for his final series of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat tells us about the Doctor’s new companion, and why he’s leaving the show...

BILL. We like Bill. It’s quite an unusual name for a lady, Bill.

Is Bill short for Billie? We’ll find out soon enough...

“Yeah, but I’ve known more than one Bill – one was a Belinda, I think – so I thought it was quite fun,” says 54-year-old Steven Moffat, who, as Doctor Who’s showrunner and head writer, has named the Doctor’s next companion Bill. Introducing… Bill.


What’s Bill – to be played by newcomer Pearl Mackie – short for?

“Billie, I’m thinking. Unless I change my mind. There’s something quite interesting about how people choose what name they’re called, isn’t there? Most people, like me, just choose to be called whatever name they’re given –”

‘Old Tom Bake’ pops up at the end of The Day of the Doctor

“This is it. I’m going to push the button. When I do, there’s no going back. I’m about to end what will be the best job I’ll ever have...”

He’s never toyed with ‘Steve’, then?

“I never really felt like a Steve. I thought ‘Steve’ would be cooler than me, and I think I was embarrassed that anyone might think that I thought I was cool, so I went for the very formal Steven.”

Steve is quite a blokey name, too.

“See, it really wouldn’t suit me. Only Mark Gatiss [Doctor Who writer and – with Steven – co-showrunner of BBC One’s Sherlock] calls me Steve, I assume because he knows another Steven. Of course, Russell [T Davies, Steven’s predecessor as Doctor Who showrunner] was called Stephen – which would have been confusing, wouldn’t it? Thank God he thought ahead! Russell is actually his middle name, and the ‘T’ doesn’t stand for anything. And my mum is called Mary, but she always preferred her second name, so she’s Noreen.”

And Steven’s father is called Bill. Is this a coincidence? Yes. Or has Steven named the new companion after his dad? No.

“I didn’t consciously go that way at all,” chuckles Steven. “I don’t think I’d inflict that on a young girl – being called after my dad! Maybe subconsciously I did, but I don’t know what that would say about me. That would be too twisted and strange. Bill is just the name that sort of came into my brain.”

It’s 6.30pm on Wednesday 27 April, and we’re sitting in the spacious, smartly decorated living room of the south-west London home that Steven shares with his wife Sue, their sons Joshua (16) and Louis (14), two Norwegian Forest cats (one’s called Arthur; the other’s Ebony, despite the fact that she’s in no way black), and a two-year-old black labrador named Albie, who’s sitting in on this interview. “He’s a failed gun dog,” explains Steven, “because he’s too much of a wimp. We got him trained, because we’re rubbish, so he was quite a well-behaved dog for a while, but he’s not now. We’ve unwound all his training. He’s very sweet.”

Albie looks quizzically at Steven, but declines to comment.

Outside, the evening sunshine is casting a golden glow across Steven’s garden… for now. We’ll talk for two-and-a-half hours, by which time we’ll have witnessed torrential rain, hail, thunder, and lightning. “This is where you put in a line about ‘freak weather’,” prompts Steven. Maybe the Master has opened the Eye of Harmony, or someone has started digging up there on Devil’s Hump. Either way, it seems that the end of the world has come, so we crack open a bottle of Tom Baker’s Spanish red. I hotfooted it here from Tom’s house in East Sussex [see page 20 – Ed]. As I was leaving, ‘old Tom Baker’ – for that’s how he signs off emails these days – presented me with a bottle of Viña del Cura Rioja Reserva; it’s described on the label as ‘smooth’, ‘plummy’, ‘matured’, and ‘complex’. And so is the wine.

What, I ask Steven, was Tom like to work with on 2013’s The Day of the Doctor? The 50th anniversary episode saw the Fourth Doctor actor return to TV Who – playing ‘the Curator’, or possibly the Doctor – for the first time in decades.

“On set is where, I think, Tom creates his own legend,” says Steven. “Well, he’s an older gent these days, but he was totally on it, he was spot on, he took direction… Very, very good. And he’s so funny. Off camera, he’ll say the most outrageous things. Matt Smith was doubled over for most of it. Then Jenna Coleman [who played Clara] walks in, and Tom lasers in on her. We all flash into dust and drift to the floor. He sits down next to Jenna and just anecdotes at her! I think Jenna Coleman goes through life with men doing that to her, but she was charmed by Tom.”

Last night, Steven was watching Tom in 1979 curate’s egg Nightmare of Eden, which first aired on BBC1, in four weekly parts, between Doctor Who Weekly Issues 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 hitting the newsstands. Steven is as full of enthusiasm for old Tom Baker as he is for old Tom Baker: “Contrary to the things he always says of himself – that he only reads his bits – he clearly knows the story really well, the shape of it, where the rise and the fall of it is, knows ‘This is where I’m going to have to start behaving like it’s a crisis’, which manifestly nobody else in Nightmare of Eden does. Tom knows exactly what’s going on in the whole story. I’m pretty good at spotting an actor who’s only learned that day’s lines – there’s an appalling amount of bluff and vagueness – and no way is Tom doing that. It’s a terrific script, too. It’s a hugely well-put-together story. I’d make it.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

The biggest issue ever to celebrate 500 editions of DWM! Contents include: Interviews with Tom Baker, Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat; a message to readers from new companion Pearl Mackie; a letter from the Doctor; a 20-page celebratory comic strip, The Stockbridge Showdown by Scott Gray, drawn by a host of guest artists; an exclusive look at Mark Gatiss' 2001 pitch for Doctor Who; Peter Capaldi answers questions once put to William Hartnell; Fact of Fiction on The Day of the Doctor; competitions to win HUGE prizes; a bonus 116-page section looking back at the history of DWM, featuring every single cover and commentary from the editors; plus News, Reviews, Coming Soon, Wotcha... and LOTS of surprises!

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