Warning: minor spoilers for the 50th Anniversary and Christmas episodes of Doctor Who
Steven Moffat has spoken to Entertainment Weekly about the emotional turmoil that both David Tennant and Matt Smith went through when stepping down from the role of the Doctor. He said,
"It’s a difficult thing for any departing Doctor. Curiously enough, it was really to me that David Tennant resigned. Because he was considering whether to continue now that I was taking over. And both of them went through he same experience. It’s not like leaving any other part, it really isn’t. It’s sort of like abdicating [the throne] and it’s genuinely emotional, it’s upsetting. It’s an upheaval in your life. It’s something you really have to contemplate. And I remember what both of them said during their period of anguish — when they were contemplating letting somebody else into the TARDIS — they both said, “There’s part of me, I would just stay doing it forever. So, if I don’t leave now, maybe I’ll just carry on forever. And that wouldn’t be right for me or the show.” It was a difficult, emotional experience for both of them."
The search for the Twelfth Doctor is continuing, but Moffat would give no hints about any actors he might be interested in. All he would say was that they would announce the role within days of finding the right actor. "It’s very very hard to keep any kind of a secret." he explained
Moffat also put paid to rumours and theories that Matt, due to his recent radical haircut for How To Catch A Monster, would regenerate either at the climax of the Anniversary episode or the beginning of the Christmas episode and had already filmed his scenes. His plan is that the new Doctor will appear in the Christmas show. "It’ll be the traditional regeneration. You know, the eleventh will fall and the twelfth shall rise. And you’ll see that in the closing moments of the show. I mean, you sometimes sit and think, “Are there better ways of doing it? Is there a different way of doing it?” But quite honestly what could be better than that? It’s just too exciting. However, we effect it, the Doctor will turn up in his trademark quiff. We can’t have Matt’s last stand in the TARDIS without his proper look."
He also spoke a little about the 50th Anniversary special which filmed this spring for broadcast on Saturday 23rd November on BBC One and BBC America. On the length of the episode he intimated that the special could be movie length, "It’s a special episode. I think you could call it movie-length, yeah. I mean, I’m saying that with a slight hint of vagueness because I don’t know the finished running time. It’s certainly well over an hour."
The highlight for many fans will be to see Matt and David sharing the screen as the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors. Moffat was happy to confirm that the pair got on well off-screen, "They really loved each other and had a huge laugh together. And of course they've been through this experience that only the two of them can talk about, really, in the modern world. They are the two people that have played that part at a time when the series is this big. They spent the entire time just sitting together talking animatedly."
And as for the on-screen relationship, how do the two versions of the Doctor relate to one another?
"They’re quite a fun pairing, I would say," he said, "There’s a bit of the normal joshing of each other but they’re both such enthusiastic Doctors. While they might be sort of competing slightly, they’re both standing there saying, “Oh god, it’s so cool, there’s two of me!” So, it’s very different. I think the other one that worked brilliantly was Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton. They were incredibly funny together. This is very different from that but it’s a sublime double act."
As usual, Moffat was less forthcoming about the plot of the episode, and was only willing to confirm what had been seen when the production filmed outside, the presence of the Zygons, for instance.
"But the rest of it…" he teased, "You’re just going to have to wait until November to find out about."
Steven Moffat will form part of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary panel along with Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman, An Adventure in Space and Time star David Bradley, and award-winning writer/executive producer Mark Gatiss at San Diego Comic Con on Sunday 21st July.