‘Doctor Who’ writer Moffat answers: Does the Doctor remember ALL of ‘Heaven Sent’?

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Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has cleared up a few things regarding the first part of last year’s season finale.

Written by Moffat, ‘Heaven Sent’ was the show’s first ‘one-hander’ episode and featured (almost) only Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.

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

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

A fan wrote in to Doctor Who Magazine and asked: “After ‘Heaven Sent’, does the Doctor have 4.5 billion years’ worth of memories? He says he can remember ‘it all’ at the end of every cycle, which leads me to believe he can remember every second of it, but some people think that he only has memories of the last iteration.”

Doctor Who Heaven Sent Peter Capaldi Twelfth

Moffat answered: “Well technically, it shouldn’t be possible that he remembers. Each time he burns himself up to power the teleport, he prints a new version of the man he was, with only the memories he had on arrival. So what does he mean, when he says he remembers, when he clearly can’t?

“Well first, memory is a funny thing – we manufacture memories all the time. Memories become stories, the Doctor tells us. But I think stories become memories, too. So in that moment when the Doctor figures out the only way to break through the wall is to keep making new versions of himself, and puts it together with the fact that seven thousands years have passed without time travel, and realises that – oh dear God – he’s been doing that very thing for a long time, it feels like he remembers.

“In that plunging moment, he feels the weight of the centuries behind, and the horror of the millennia ahead. In other words, he makes a memory where one can’t exist.”

Doctor Who Heaven Sent Peter Capaldi Twelfth

He continued: “That’s one explanation. Personally, I think there’s more to it. Remember, he’s trapped inside his own confession dial. The castle chambers, and the monster slouching towards him, are composed of his own worst nightmares, and his nightmares are composed of his worst memories.

“In a world designed to suck your bad dreams from your mind and feed them back to you, isn’t it possible that his worst day – the one he’s living right now, again and again – is hanging in the air around him? He’s trapped in the Wi-Fi of his bad dreams, and he can’t shut them out.

“So, yes, I suppose he has 4.5 billion years’ worth of memories in his head.”

Doctor Who Heaven Sent Peter Capaldi Twelfth

The fan also asked: “How long did each cycle last, from the Doctor’s perspective?”

Moffat replied: “…in my head the Doctor is in the castle for several weeks. I assume it varies, depending on how the rooms rearrange, but it’s probably about three weeks.”

Read his full response in Issue 495 of Doctor Who Magazine.

Season 10 will begin filming in July, with Pearl Mackie joining Peter Capaldi’s Doctor as new companion Bill.

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

What was your favourite moment in ‘Heaven Sent’? Let us know below…