The tenth season of Doctor Who will be the last for Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi, the first for Pearl Mackie as companion Bill Potts and will somehow feature both The Master (John Simm) and Missy (Michelle Gomez). We have quasi-companion Nardole (Matt Lucas) and a whole range of villains including Mondasian Cybermen to contend with starting tomorrow on BBC1 and BBC America. Bleeding Cool sat with Moffat, Capaldi and Mackie at New York Comic Con.
How difficult will it be departing the show, knowing it will most likely take a different direction in the future? Note: Capaldi's exit had not been announced at time of the interview.
Moffat: "I've still got another year so I haven't given it much thought. I will be very sad but it's not like I am not used to the idea of Doctor Who going on without me? It will be a little bit odd for a moment but I imagine like most things in life it will become kind of ordinary. I'll like watching it again, I haven't watched it as a fan for years so that will be nice."
The new companion Bill looks like she might be a challenge for The Doctor. How does her introduction change things and how does he handle it?
Capaldi: "It's coming from a perspective that we haven't seen for awhile, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the Doctor Who universe at all, so everything on the show is brand new to her. I think that is very invigorating for us and for the show. We have to re-tell, or tell afresh the whole story of the show, in bits and pieces and she (Bill) never quite reacts to it in the way the Doctor expects which is great fun."
Mackie: "It's a challenge, because she is not predictable and is very sharp. He is interested in the way she reacts to new information. She is as well, she's never met anyone whose mind works that way; there is a mutual respect and admiration. I think both of them stick to their guns, they know what they want from a situation and they do present a challenge to each other in a very positive way."
Approaching the part of the Doctor, do you enjoy the freedom to change things up a bit with the introduction of a new companion?
Capaldi: "It is always a challenge as any new character actually creates a new version of the other character because The Doctor responds differently than say he would to Clara so it's always exciting for me. The one thing you don't want to do in a long-running show (even if I've only done it for three years) is you don't want to get to a place where you say "I know how to do this". So luckily, I don't know how to do it. Having someone like Pearl (Mackie) around certainly helps."
Your Doctor has an association with music how did this play into the show and how did it come about?
Moffat: "Peter said after the first series, wouldn't it be fun if the Doctor played the electric guitar? I don't think it was a deep process I was looking for a big entrance for his second series."
Capaldi: "I said I can't come in on a tank playing the electric guitar! I was desperate not to do it but in fact people say to me, "wow, it's fantastic you arrived on a tank playing a guitar" so what do I know? I play a little bit myself but when I see it on the show sometimes it's me and sometimes there's some shredding that's not quite right."
Will we ever hear from the Doctor's Daughter again, or learn more about other children he has?
Moffat: "You mean Jenny? Oh, it's too confusing! It wasn't a plan; I know I accidentally kept her alive. Is that the most interesting reunion we could do? I don't know. He's presumably actually got normally formed biological children out there, cause you can't get a grandchild by any other means so there is always that possibility."
We have heard of the secretive audition process you had to go through, Pearl. Can you tell us a little what it was like reading with Peter Capaldi the first time?
Mackie: "When we first read together I was really nervous, I walked in with my baggy t-shirt, Jeans and yellow trainers to this really nice place! Reading with Peter was really great…we had a real nice bounce and played off each other really nicely, he's a wonderful actor. We were going to sit down and he asked do you want to stand up? And I was like alright let's do it. It was the scene where Bill first goes into the TARDIS, he (Peter) was going around pressing imaginary buttons, running around I was sitting there like oh my god this is the maddest thing that has ever happened to me in my life what am I doing here? I can't believe it! Luckily that's what Bill is supposed to be thinking of otherwise I don't know how it would have gone."
You've said you did not grow up a fan of Doctor Who as a child. Have you watched past episodes and become a fan now?
Mackie: "I didn't want to watch too much having the job because when I see the characters of Clara and Bill…they are very different but whenever you see acting you, like, in a context you recognize it's difficult not to emulate it. I thought it would be a good idea to stay away from that. I've seen some episodes and seen some bits and bobs over the years but I don't know it as much as Clara did for example. I think this is useful to keep that for Bill, and helpful in the character."
Looking towards the future are there any specific projects you would like to pursue? What path might your careers take from this point.
Moffat: "Failure, despair, depression, a deep sense of regret and remorse probably ending in a drunken gun siege is what I am thinking. I have done nothing except Sherlock and Doctor Who since late 2008! I am in no way wanting to get rid of Doctor Who but it will be interesting to see if I can still write something other than those two shows. I'm going to be known as the exiting showrunner until the end of time it seems, I've been loitering at the door for a painfully long time …like the person who just doesn't know when to leave."
Capaldi: "I love Doctor Who and playing The Doctor but clearly when that time comes there are lots of other roles I'd like to have a crack at. I'd love to go back to the stage for awhile, but we are very lucky with the people who make Doctor Who because we love it. It's always very difficult to think of not being part of it so I try not to."
Luckily we all have an entire season and next year's Christmas special to enjoy until that time comes. Doctor Who airs April 15th with an episode entitled "The Pilot" written by Steven Moffat.