Steven Moffat says making ‘Doctor Who’ Season 7 was ‘pretty miserable’

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has described his third year in the role as “a tough, time time.”

The year’s production was reportedly “fraught with difficulties” and featured the departure of Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill halfway through Season 7, the show’s 50th anniversary special and the departure of Matt Smith in 2013’s Christmas special.

Moffat told DWM in the magazine’s latest issue: “Well, there was a long time when I thought I’d only do three years. That was the absolute plan … But I didn’t enjoy my third year as much. It was a bit miserable.”

He admitted: “The workload was just insane. I wasn’t coping as well. No-one else’s fault, all mine. The 50th was looming, and I didn’t know if we could make it work. It was a tough, tough time. My darkest hour on Who was that.”

Doctor Who TARDIS Matt Smith Eleventh The Snowmen

Moffat added: “…Matt [Smith], who was a friend and ally, was leaving – I couldn’t get him to stay. It felt like everything was blowing up around me. I was staggering into the 50th, with no Doctors contracted to appear in it, battered with endless hate mail about how I hadn’t got William Hartnell back … and Sherlock Series Three at the same time.”

Explaining his decision to stay, he said: “I was pretty miserable by the end of it, and I coudn’t bear to let that be the end.”

It was announced earlier this year that Moffat will step down after a sixth season as showrunner, with Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall as his replacement in 2018.

Doctor Who A town called Mercy Matt Smith

Season 10 of Doctor Who began filming last week and will air on BBC One in spring 2017.

> Here’s everything we know so far about Season 10.

Steven Moffat also recently revealed his biggest Season 9 regret.

> Buy the complete Season 9 box set on DVD on Amazon.

> Buy the complete Season 9 box set on Blu-ray on Amazon.

What did you think of Season 7? Let us know below…

  • Daniel

    I hope Steven Moffat realises that most of us are just Who fans at the end of the day and really appreciate how much love, sweat and tears he has put into the show to make the best Who he can. The man has received so much bile and nastiness from ignorant cyber bullies since he took over the reins and as much as you hope he was able to ignore it, it must wear you down after a while. He really is much too hard on himself though but he only wants to give us the very best he can. At the end of the day series 7 and the 50th anniversary year was a huge success. We got the glorious Day of the Doctor and equally wonderful Night of the Doctor, truly beautiful farewells for Karen, Arthur and Matt and a full series 7. Hats off to Steven Moffat and I do hope BBC give him a proper retrospective next year and his colleagues shower him with the acclaim he so richly deserves.

    • CultBox

      Well said!

    • Wendy Clare

      Hear, hear!! 🙂 <

    • Pat

      Agreed!

    • Karen Janssen

      YES! Mr. Moffat please know that I LOVE what you have done with Who. I enjoy every minute!

    • RiverAlexandraSong

      He’s had to deal with things the fan’s really know nothing about. It’s a rough job and I think he’s done a spectacular job. I hope he’ll write an episode here and there when Chris Chibnail takes over. His have always been my favorite episodes.

  • Dr. Moo

    Series seven is Moffat’s weakest season for sure but it happens to contain Asylum of the Daleks, A Town Called Mercy, The Angels Take Manhattan, The Snowmen, The Bells of Saint John, The Rings of Akhaten, Hide and the ‘The _____ of the Doctor’ quartet. Any season that contains these things is sure to be excellent so this being Moffat’s weakest season speaks volumes about how high quality the show has been under his stewardship.

    • scarvesandcelery

      Not a huge “A Town Called Mercy” fan, but agreed that the other listed episodes are excellent, and stand up to a rewatch very well. Series seven is still packed with quality episodes, in spite of its reputation, and i enjoy it quite a bit.

      • zybch

        Surely you jest. Rings of Akhaten was unwatchable drek coupled with an RTD ‘and then something magical happens’ ending.

        • Hanaha

          It wasn’t great but it sure ain’t RTD style emo Twighlight dreck.

        • James Jeans

          This sort of reaction is the reason I ended up leaving Gallifrey Base.

          I absolutely loved The Rings of Akhaten, I was real excited to go talk about it among fellow fans, but all I saw on the forums was insane hyperbole about how awful it was.

          I mean, I can understand not liking it. But “unwatchable drek”? Jesus.

          This sort of thing was enough to finally drive me out of fandom pretty much for good (I really only engage in discussions about the music now). It’s a joyless, vitriolic wasteland of hate.

    • JC

      Moffatt has given us some fantastic episodes over the years. However, Series 7 was clearly one of the weaker ones. I love Series 4 but I think Series 9 (Moffat) was also fantastic! I think A Town Called Mercy is overrated, the Bells of St John was a weak series (albeit a mid-series) opener and Rings of Akhaten was just… well, certainly not one of my favourites… However, as you say, there are some great episodes and each series has some good and some bad, just to different proportions. I do feel like Series 9 was a real lift up and I have high hopes for Series 10. 🙂

  • ASH565

    One of the remarkable things about Steven Moffat is his resilience. He juggled it all well in series 7 including Sherlock and then BAM he started working with Peter Capaldi and all the old energy and brilliance was back and then some. Missy, a new and improved Clara, new Tardis, the return of Gallifrey, River’s gorgeous last hurrah. Series 5 blew away all the tired old stale dust left by RTD who had well and truly run out of ideas, series 9 took the show by the throat and rattled off fantastic ideas, super performances and mini masterpieces week after week and made Who unmissable high quality television easily rubbing shoulders with the likes of Wolf Hall, Doctor Foster and Happy Valley. I feel Moffat, with Capaldi, still has so much to give us and I am looking forward to series 10 immensely.

  • timmy

    This isn’t news, Cultbox. This was in last month’s DWM.

    • Eter Puralis

      Not everyone has DWM

    • CultBox

      That’s recent for us 😉

  • russell

    I’M against the grain on some of this. OF course we are lucky, in that a season tends to be 12 episodes plus ( the amount for a NUWHO year on average ), but the reality is: season 7 was effectively one year ( season ), broken in half and spread ACROSS TWO YEARS. If the standard rate had continued, Matt would have completed a fourth series. All that was extra,if you like, in the anniversary year, was The Day of the Doctor “special”. An extended episode. I’m happy for The Moff -and for fans – that the special was so very well received, but myself, I was a little disappointed. Disappointed in that, “more WHO than ever”, was promised by the Moff in the 50th year….Nope! We got in essence : a left over half from the year before- and one new programme, instead of around 12…( I was so happy with the return of The Web of Fear, etc . hoorayyyy ).
    What I’m trying to say is, I respect Steven Moffat’s candour at this point. He now acknowledges he was struggling with the work load back then…I’d assumed as much (my comments above). 12 stories a year, breaks down to one a month…that’s a heck of a schedule. So the programme always needs to be in motion- flux… ahead of itself.12 stories = 12 good ideas; that’s hard. Understanding this, makes sense why season 11 has been commissioned already.And whether I too, was not so happy as a viewer with 7- I have no problem with that. Rumours of a so called Chibnall ” Writer’s Room “, show he is aware of some of the show’s problems, and is trying to address them

  • Ian McArdell

    The temptation to say it wasn’t much fun to watch either is there, talk about an open goal, but it’s simply not true. All series have their ups and downs, but the addition of Neil Cross to the writing team was a masterstroke. A shame he’s not been back for more.

  • Timelover

    Was better than 6.

  • James Jeans

    I thought series 7 was a massive improvement on series 6 — which was probably my least favorite after series 2 — so at least the strife didn’t seem to show on screen. I’m glad he stayed on, though, as I still greatly enjoy his work even when it’s at its lowest creatively.

  • Meister Fhyl

    I can assure you, *watching* it was even more so.