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The Pilot

It’s time for a brand new series of Doctor Who! Let DWM be your guide to what’s ahead…


What’s the job of a title? Is it to sound pretty? Well, maybe. Is it to sum up the story beautifully? Perhaps.

Is it to get mentioned a lot? Definitely,” considers Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat. “If you do something as cheeky as call the first episode of a new series of a 54-year-old show The Pilot, then people will talk about it.

That’s the job of a title.” Up until a few weeks ago, The Pilot was called A Star in Her Eye. “But from the moment [fellow Doctor Who writer] Mark Gatiss said, ‘It just sounds like [ITV talent show] Stars in Their Eyes,’ I thought, ‘Oh. Oh, great. I don’t like it as much now.’ Also, I suppose The Pilot is a vague statement of intent…”

The Pilot – written by Steven – certainly feels like the most ‘Episode 1’ Episode 1 since 2010’s The Eleventh Hour. Maybe even since 2005’s Rose. We don’t want to call it a ‘reboot’, but…

“Well, I think Doctor Who probably should reboot itself every so often,” says Steven, “while maintaining its fragile continuity. Rose is definitely a reboot. The Eleventh Hour isn’t really; you sort of have to know that the Doctor used to be David Tennant for it to make any sense. It’s a fairly good jumping-on point, but you have to be aware that it’s not the first episode of all time.

But Rose behaves as if it is. Obviously An Unearthly Child [1963] does. And The Pilot does. All the information is there. Maybe tonally it isn’t quite. The fact that we subvert slightly Bill’s first visit to the TARDIS is sort of inevitable; there probably won’t be a single human being watching who doesn’t know that it’s bigger on the inside, so to play that would have been difficult. But yeah, it’s a very easy jumping-on point. In 2005, they rebooted an old show, and it’s harder, over time, to gain viewers than it is to lose them – that’s one of the absolute realities of television – so you want to give people another reason to start watching. So why not?

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About Doctor Who Magazine

New series preview issue! Contents include: an exclusive interview with Pearl Mackie who plays new companion Bill Potts; previews of the first three episodes of the 2017 season – The Pilot, Smile and Thin Ice, with exclusive interviews with writers Steven Moffat, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Sarah Dollard; Doctor Who's producers Nikki Wilson and Peter Bennett reveal the behind-the-scenes secrets of the making of the show; 1983's Terminus is put under the spotlight in The Fact of Fiction; The Time Team watch 2011's The Curse of the Black Spot; showrunner Steven Moffat introducers the writers of the 2017 series in his latest column; brand new comic strip action as the Doctor and Jess have a showdown with the Master in Doorway to Hell; plus previews, reviews, official news, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!