The Night of the Doctor – Steven Moffat on Paul McGann and The Sisterhood of Karn

Dr Who XI 50th 2013

Released as an introduction to the upcoming Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, The Night of the Doctor minisode has generated massive viewing figures in just a few days, with well over 2 million views on the BBC‘s YouTube page alone.

The success of the episode, and of Paul McGann‘s return in particular, has not only led to Big Finish offering a celebratory discount on all eighth Doctor audio adventures, but has also prompted some fans to start up a campaign for a Paul McGann-fronted Doctor Who web series, complete with an online petition and Facebook page.

In a BBC blogs interview, Doctor Who writer and showrunner Steven Moffat described the eighth Doctor and his appeal, as well as his own excitement at having the chance to bring him back:

Picture shows: PAUL McGANN as the Eighth Doctor.“The Eighth Doctor is perhaps the first of the sexy, romantic Doctors. I don’t mean he’s the first sexy Doctor – he’s not. But he’s the first one who kisses a lady, for example. He’s obviously dashing, terribly handsome and quite romantic. I always found it hard to imagine him fighting in the Time War. I’d always imagined the ‘Time War Doctor’ would be more grizzled, somehow, you know?

Paul only played the Doctor onscreen once before, in the TV Movie. He gives a wonderful performance in it. It’s a terrifically exuberant performance and it anticipates the later performances, particularly of Matt and David. He’s a dashing, romantic, very funny and very affecting Doctor! Of course, Paul is not only known for the telemovie but for all his wonderful audio adventures. I’m always telling the Doctors and companions, as they come through the show, that they’ll never be quite done with it – Big Finish is expecting them….”

“It was always frustrating that we never got to see more of him! The completist in me… the ‘box set man’ in me wants every box ticked and I wanted every regeneration scene! And we get to see the Paul McGann Doctor regenerate into the John Hurt Doctor! I love regeneration episodes – there’s nothing more exciting! And in the anniversary year we get to see two regenerations… That’s pretty cool!”

Of course, the eighth Doctor wasn’t the only character to make a surprise return in The Night of the Doctor. The episode also features the mysterious Sisterhood of Karn – an interesting choice, given that most younger fans will know little about Karn or The Brain of Morbius, the 1976, four-part story in which the Sisterhood first featured. Asked whether he was surprised by audiences’ positive responses to their return, Moffat replied:

“A little bit! I was terribly excited about having the Sisterhood of Karn coming back which is why I did it! But I should probably learn to have a little more faith in the fact that what gets me excited as a sad, old fan will get other people excited as well! And okay, the Sisterhood are unknown to the kids, but I was a kid when I first saw the Sisterhood and I thought they were great! So I’m hoping other people will like them!”

Finally, the writer also cleared up some confusion between the new character that features in The Night of the Doctor, and Ohica, another, connected character from The Brain of Morbius:

“If you look at the credits [of The Night of the Doctor] you’ll see I called her Ohila so it suggests she’s in some way connected to Ohica. Instead of having that confusion in having it the same person, I thought we’d just imply they were connected.”

Will we find out exactly what the connection between these two characters is? Only The Day of the Doctor will tell. Perhaps, after so many surprises already, even a tiny hope that Chris Eccleston might yet join his successors in the special is not completely unfounded…

To read the full interview with Steven Moffat, visit the BBC Doctor Who Blog.

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Sources: BBC Blogs | Big Finish | Comfy Chair

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