back to article Steven Moffat fumes over Doctor Who plot leak

Steven Moffat is none too pleased that "crucial plot lines" of the opening two episodes of the new Doctor Who series were made public before the programmes aired last month. At the launch of the Time Lord's latest outing in early April, Moffat asked those present not to blow the lid on The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Oh good grief. Drama queen much?

    Frankly the first two episodes were pants when it came to plot and smacked of trying too hard. Big improvement in the third, but huge plot holes (and disappearing pirates) there. Stop trying to be clever with Doctor Who and having it only make sense when you watch the lot back to back on the DVDs.

    And as for "oh no the plot was revealed" Bless. People still watched it didn't they? maybe they stood a better chance of understanding what was bloody going on with all the crappy wibbly wobbly McGuffins you were putting in.


    1. James Hughes 1

      Surely the other way round

      I thought he first two were much better than the third. Ok, so a few plot holes/inconsistent bits, but still very good watching.

      As to the rant in question, I agree with Moffat. What a numbskull the poster must have been. You get invited to a preview, get specifically asked not to publish the details, then do so anyway. No more invites for him then. He just did it to look good and boast. Well done him. So big, so clever.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well at least...

      ...Moffat's episodes actually _have_ a plot. Sounds like you want to go back to the days of RTD making everyone run around to dramatic music followed by a random Deus ex Machina two minutes before the end.

    3. Code Monkey

      Series so far

      First two were far too complicated. I really couldn't be arsed. Far too much shouting in the 3rd. Well there are a few gaps I can fill in the Tom Baker collection. Much better!

  2. Anonymous Coward

    tit, le

    Hypocrit. If you want to maintain a surprise, don't go telling people the plot (regardless of whether you ask them not to reveal it further beyond)!

  3. IsJustabloke

    I refuse to enoble a simple forum post!

    "I just hope that guy never watches my show again, because that's a horrific thing to do."

    Hmmm.... ok, I can understand he may be a bit emotional and while I agree its not very nice to post spoilers (clues in the name after all) but "Horrific" ? Really?

    Is that really the correct word to use in this context?

    I'm traumatised because of the horrific way the poster refused touse spiler tags when they posted the show spoilers.... Oh yeah... I see what he means now.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      could be...

      maybe their planning another revolting ginger assistant - it's killed him 2wice already.

      tate and langford scared the sh1t out of me far more then cybermen or daleks.

      (RIP Sarah Jane - sadly missed)

  4. Just Thinking


    If a fan watches an episode of Dr Who, then travels back in time and gives Moffat the idea for the plot, well you never hear him complaining when that happens do you?

    Oh hang on, that *is* the idea of most of his plots.

  5. nichomach

    I'd suggest that...

    ...the fact that some nitwit didn't see anything wrong with posting that stuff mitigates any "department of the bleeding obvious" criticism somewhat; it patently wasn't obvious to that person. Friendless, inbred, mouthbreathing, goat-molesting offspring of a camel's crotch-tick that they may be. I'm with Moffat on this, and I'm not surprised he's fuming.

  6. Paul Read

    bloody spoilers

    Moffat is a genius and 100% right in this case. Having said that, the BBC itself trails upcoming episodes so heavily and explicitly these days, it's almost worse. At least you can avoid fan spoilers. Trailers for the next epi are on during the end credits of the previous.

  7. peredur

    Overreact? Moi?

    It's annoying, sure, when stuff like this happens, but it's hardly in the big league of disasters now, is it? How many people are likely to have seen the spoiler? Of that number, what proportion managed somehow to read it unintentionally? Twice. What percentage read the plot line and then decided not to watch the show? Two? Three? As many as twenty?

    So, "horrific"?

    Presumably for values of 'horrific' on a quantum scale. The guy should really get a grip. Using terms like 'hate' and 'horrific' in respect of a gnat bite like this debases the coinage. What words will we have left to describe the beating and shooting of innocents by armed troops and vigilantes if 'hate' and 'horror' are appropriate to describe spoilers?



  8. Eponymous Cowherd

    I can understand why he's pissed off......

    but its kind of naive to tell a bunch of Who nerds the plot and *not* expect this to happen.

  9. ThomH Silver badge

    On the other hand...

    ... some who use Doctor Who primarily as something to talk about in advance, with theories and leaked plot elements, seem to get many hours more enjoyment out of it than they would merely by watching the television programme. And they're probably still buying the merchandising, while those of us that prefer it just as a television programme still didn't know what was going to happen.

    1. Wkd

      In a parallel universe i dont need a title.

      I couldn't agree more. The first 30 minutes on a Monday morning in the office consist of what happened in Dr Who on Saturday and future plot discussion/direction, and who was the closest and who was way off. Now of course this means that guys are off reading Dr Who spoiler blogs, leaked photos of the sets etc, to better arm themselves ready for presentation of there new theory as to why "Amy has a small scar on the left of her nose" on Monday morning.

      Does that mean i am the "Worst Fan" because i have such an interest in the show that i am willing to commit the horrific crime of being excited as to what will happen next.

      Now this might sound really sad and geekish to some, but hey we all got to get our kicks somehow.

    2. Tom 13

      And a truly talented and entrepenurial author

      would work with that insight to create even more demand for his shows. Sort of like JMS did with B5.

      1. Dave Bell

        Do you remember Z'ha'dum?

        That was the climax episode for the third season of Babylon 5, and JMS went to some lengths to keep the episode title secret, not that it ever can be a secret right up to the time the episode is broadcast. There are TV listings published.

        So, as the name appeared, all the fans knew that there was a prediction, to the effect that going to Z'ha'dum would lead to death.

        JMS could have chosen a different title if he really didn't want to publish that stonking big clue.

        The fans on the newsgroups decided that nobody could ever mention an episode name again, lest they spoil the show for other viewers. This wasn't quite crazy: those of us in the UK saw the episode a month before the Americans, but there was a huge dose of "we know better than the author".

        I think the River Song character is playing with this real-world history, when she says "spoilers".

        I reckon Steven Moffatt is right to take offence. He gave these people a preview, asked them not to talk, and one of the guys blabbed. And, while he's not perfect, I think he plays fair with the audience. There's so much happening that you can miss a clue, and he doesn't explain everything, but I think he has things worked out.

        Anyway, you may have heard of the unreliable narrator as a device in fiction. The Pandorica two-parter makes everything that went before an unreliable narration. Everything, all the way back to Totter's Lane. RTD was closing off options like there was no tomorrow, and the way he kept pumping the climax-scale make "Doc" Smith look restrained. Steven Moffett has re-booted the universe, and gives a very personal threat to the Doctor.

    3. Glyn 2

      back to the future

      Fan's don't need to travel back in time, most of the plots and design (ships and creatures) have been nicked from other sources and mashed together very crudely. That's where the gaping plot holes come in.

      "Stories depend on shocking people. Stories are the moments that you didn't see coming, that are what live in you and burn in you forever. If you are denied those, it's vandalism."

      Nope, stories don't depend on shocking people, they depend on a cohesive narrative and actors who can...well..act.

    4. Graham Marsden

      Re: bloody spoilers

      As soon as the credits start to roll I hit the Mute button (or Fast Forward if I've recorded it) and pay no attention until they've ended because of the blatant spoilers that the BBC often stick in.

      Now I just have to figure out how to avoid them in articles in the Radio Times...

  10. jake Silver badge

    Who cares?

    Doctor Who died with Baker. The first one.

    In my not even close to humble opinion, anyway.

  11. David Evans


    ...don't reveal plot details in advance of the broadcast? Just a thought.

    He's pissing in the wind frankly; if you want to maintain the element of surprise in the internet era, you need a kind of anti-PR media lockdown and you need to schedule the show's release simultaneously in major markets (which also the best way to stop TV piracy btw), or you may as well not worry about it.

  12. Paratrooping Parrot

    I agree with Moffat

    It is really annoying with newspapers and Internet forums constantly trying to tell you what is happening in the next episode. Also, what is REALLY annoying is the fact they have what is coming up next before the credits. I have to be really quick with the off button. If you want to tell us what is coming up next, then do it after the credits, so those of us who do not want to be told, we can change channels in time, otherwise switch the telly off.

  13. Joe Harrison

    Free tip from a security professional

    Whenever I want to keep something confidential I always find "not announcing to a big crowd of people" works well.

    1. chr0m4t1c

      You make it sound so easy

      I bet you advocate other impractical security solutions, such as not broadcasting it on national television every half hour.

      I wish you guys could learn to live in the real world :*)

  14. Conrad Longmore

    So perhaps..

    So perhaps the BBC should stop giving half the plot away of the NEXT episode in the trailers during the end titles?

  15. Christoph Silver badge

    All fans?

    He hates all fans of the show because of one idiot? I would expect that the great majority of fans are *not* amused by that prat posting spoilers. Fan discussion boards usually specifically ban the posting of spoilers before everyone has had a chance to see the show.

    As he says, it ruins the drama of the show. So why on earth would fans of the show *want* the drama ruined? They are probably his best allies to stop it.

  16. EddieD

    If it's well written, and well played...

    It shouldn't matter if the plot is known. If it did, I'd never go to see Shakespear again. Or Pinter, Orton..well, you get the idea... Well written, well played and well directed drama can't be spoiled.

    Ah. I see a problem.

    The plots of Dr Who are very formulaic - (spoiler alert - the Dr saves the day in the nick of time...) - so little is ruined.

    There seems to be more drama in the bluster of this writer than the whole series.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Just Thinking

    > Oh hang on, that *is* the idea of most of his plots

    Used to be ... I have to admit that in the first couple of series I thought the way the handled the potential paradoxes of time travel were very good ... e.g. when Queen Elizabeth I called the Doctor "my biggest enemy" (or something like that) and when Rose asked the Doctor why he replied "I don't know - I haven't met her yet". At that stage it was on a par with the most excellent handling of time travel in "Bill & Ted most excellent adventure" (e.g. the bit where they are trapped in a police cell and one suddenly says "if we did manage to get out we could use the phone booth to travel back in time and hide the key behinf here ... look, here's the key") but since then the increasingly excessive use of "timey-wimey" features is getting tedious. In the first new series they introduced the "repears" to show what happens if you use time travel to affect history ... doesn't seem to be much mention of them recently.

    Anyway, Moffat seems to have moved on from "timey-wimey" and is now usintg "spacey-wavey" ... as in "we're stuck with no way to escape from this room - except I've put my invisible tardis in the corner lets open the door, go in and escape"

  18. Mark Greenwood

    The first two episodes had a plot?

    Must've missed that.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You missed the best quote

    "It's just like that annoying bloke down the pub when you're telling a joke who sits there and waits until you're almost finished then jumps in with the punchline and gets it wrong."

    1. Nick G


      You obviously did...

      1. Dave Bell


        You're forgetting something.

      2. adrianww

        No, I think he's probably right...'s just that the Dr Who writers are confusing "load of over-played, hokey, self-referential bollocks" with "plot".

        Based on those first two episodes, the current series of Dr Who looks likely to join dear old Babble-On 5 and Star Trek: Cheap Skate 9 in the hallowed halls of science fiction TV series that should have been killed off before they took themselves too damned seriously and rapidly disappeared up their own bums.

        Stop. 'Cos they probably should. Soon.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Super injunction?

    Everyone else seems to be raising them - Alledgedly

  21. Maxson

    Storytelling isn't JUST surprises, Steven

    Don't get me wrong, I can kind of see how he's upset, but if his storytelling's key element is surprises then he must be a fairly poor writer, good quality writing can engross you even without a surprise, I've seen the godfather a good half a dozen times, and I'm not so forgetful that I forget


    They shot sonny on the causeway


    Setting the scene and writing first class dialogue are important too, though I suppose everyone just assumes this is the work of the director.

    1. Glyn 2


      I've seen Star Wars a few times (ahem) but each time can't help but thinking that one day Biggs will make it out of the trench

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Steven Muppet

    Well, don't tell anyone beforehand then, you camp mallet head

  23. Stephen Hunt

    So don't tell the press the plot

    Like most people I don't like spoilers, but an easy solution is to not tell the press the plot in the launch parties.

    And get rid of all the spoilers for next weeks episode that are tacked in before the credits while you are at it - these just give to whole plot away.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    I remember an episode by a certain Steven Moffat

    where the BBC showed the Dr Who Confidential (which revealed the final scene with the secret of the story) just before the programme started on BBC3, so that I saw the end scene while waiting for the then-spoiled episode to start. Bloody genius, that was.

    (it was The Girl in the Fireplace, if you're wondering)

  25. R J Tysoe


    Simple solution - don't have previews. It's a TV program, not some Hollywood blockbuster. Send out review copies on DVD to critics just like every other TV program does.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    You're all missing the point

    Just shut up and be glad Russel T Davies has left.

    Our man Moffat has *years* of damage to undo.

    Mines the one with the running shoes and the 100 greatest dramatic themes CD.

    1. ColinP

      A bit harsh

      Russel T Davies did something that nobody else had been able to do since the 80s, and that was to at least bring Dr Who back to our screens in a format that works for a modern audience, to grown ups and kids alike.

      So what if some of his scripts sucked? There were still some cracking episodes in the RTD years, and now Moffat can take it to the next level.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        He did a good resuscitation job no doubt- and he should be praised highly for that. But his scripts were often very shallow and disappointing. Yes, there were some cracking episodes in the RTD years: The Empty Child, Silence in the Library, The Girl in the Fireplace, Blink... and guess what those episodes have in common.

  27. Subliteratus
    Thumb Up

    I know his pain

    Folk may bitch and moan about the plots being too dependent on twists, surprises, and the obligatory sudden reversals but I still think it's a dick move to have the privilege of an early screening then blab about it. For instance, I'm *still* pissed off with Zoe Ball blowing the ending to Buffy Season 5 on her morning show on Radio 1 10 years ago. I swear to God that gobby moo timed it so everyone whose alarm went off at 7am wouldn't be awake enough to get to the snooze button in time.

    Tell people it's great or it's crap all you want but don't give away the ending without fair warning.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about

    It you don't want spoilers, don't read them? They don't magically invade your browser when you start the PC, you do actually have to go and seek them out. Sheesh.

  29. R J Tysoe


    "He hates all fans of the show because of one idiot?" No, try reading the article. If that doesn't make it clear, try reading the original on the BBC site.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    His actual complaint

    His complaint, while he acknowledges not wanting spoilers to be let out, has more to do with someone writing up the plot in a very bad way rather than someone revealing the plot at all.

  31. heyrick Silver badge


    Footage of the tsunami wiping out entire towns, beamed across the world, live, in real time.

    That is my definition of horrific.

    If Moffat wanted surprises, he should have kept a few things back.

  32. A. Lewis

    Calm down...

    I agree that the fan was wrong to reveal details prior to the show's airing. But surely he should've had to sign an NDA so that at least they could administer a wrist slapping and deter others in future?

    Personally, though, I've never understood the big problem with 'spoilers'. A good story can be something you enjoy again and again. Be it in book form, or film, or TV. Why is it that fans go to see films numerous times. Surely in the world according to Mr Moffat they shouldn't bother because the suspense is lost. For me the artistry is in the telling. I am happy to enjoy and to become immersed in a well told story, whether or not I knoe what's going to happen.

    Also, (and I almost didn't mention this on the grounds that it's rather petty) this is Doctor Who, not Shakespeare. I doubt hearing confirmation that it's a child-friendly ride through wonder and fantasy culminating in the doctor realising something clever and beating the bad guy is going to spoil it for anyone.

  33. Code Monkey

    "I just hope that guy never watches my show again"

    Don't tempt me.

    Make no mistake the leaker's a complete tool but, IMO, this series has been a bit bobbins so far.

  34. Eponymous Cowherd

    The Silence scared the shit out of Little Miss Cowherd

    Mind you, I imagine sneaking into her room and drawing some of those counting marks on her while she slept didn't help much........

  35. Steven Knox
    Thumb Down

    It's heartbreaking..

    because you're trying to hear stories, and stories depend on surprise. So to have some twit who set up a press launch give away his own story ahead of time just to get advance publicity for a show which, let's face it, doesn't even need it and then blame someone else for his own leak. It's just sad, that's all.

  36. J 7

    it was all crap anyway

    if Moffat's plots were worth watching then I'd have more sympathy. But the truth is, since he took over the program has gone down the pan

    Bring back Christopher Eccleston

  37. Jacqui

    The good programmes

    are watched again and again. If the programme is only worth watching once, it is not worth buying on DVD - grow up mr muppet.



    Bring back ecclestone! Oh I forgot, he left because of the utter crap actors with a northern accent suffer at certain parts of the BBC. AT least he had the guts to walk and eventually say why he walked.

  38. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    @ J 7

    Christopher Eccleston is a plot writer? Wow! I never knew that!

  39. bio toxicens
    Paris Hilton

    Bad Wolf

    I know its written on the wall somewhere. Well, I mean, we DO know the end of the series already. It does kinda suck to have to stop the show before the end credits as to not ruin the next episode you have to wait another 7 days to see.

    Paris because well, some spoilers need to be kept out of reach.

  40. TelePom


    If that's the way he talks, no wonder his characters are always so overwrought. I don't mind his plots, but does every character have to be such a massive drama queen in DW?

  41. Andy
    Dead Vulture


    the "new" dr who is boring.. bring back tom baker

    1. Criminny Rickets


      Tom Baker used to be my favourite as well. That has since changed. I would now actually prefer to see David Tennant back as the Doc, though I doubt that would ever happen.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So . . .

    . . . he was embarrassed early.

  43. gronkle


    The first two episodes of this series are the first time since the show 'came back' that I've been even mildly interested in what happens next, It's something I grew up with and loved, but it's a kids show for the most part. (to me)

    Having said that, Moffat does appear to be a bit publicity obsessed (or is having to be in order to keep the brass happy), and although I can see why the spoilers could have cheesed him off, I suspect he's more likely just taking an opportunity to stir up a bit more interest for the show.

    Here we are talking about it, after all. He's not daft, press conferences with invited fans... that run fan sites etc. Come on.

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