On the one hand, one of Britain's most interesting television writers has at last been liberated from the task of thinking up silly nonsense for a teatime audience and could be welcomed back to the real world. On the other hand, this had only been achieved by the cultural equivalent of a hostage swap. There are writers one would be quite happy to see chained below decks in the Doctor Who galley, so that their energies are entirely consumed in a broadly harmless manner, but Moffat – who can write for grown-ups – is not one of them. He didn't see it this way himself, of course, announcing that it was the "best and toughest job in television".Sutcliffe thinks Moffat is wrong on that score, expounding further that what the world needs is more realistic drama about the world around us. Well, there's a place for that too and with plenty of metaphor I'm not sure that isn't what a lot of fantasy and science fiction do anyway. BGS anyone, let alone Doctor Who?
One reader (Smith) wrote in the comments:
Do you not think, perhaps, that you should let the writers themselves decide what will be a tough job that will stretch them and is worth doing? I'm pretty sure that neither Russell T Davies nor Steven Moffat really need a newspaper columnist, with an apparent prejudice against any drama that isn't fixed firmly in the 'real' world (that's Verne, Clarke, Dick and others dealt with then), to patronise them and explain what they should be writing.Quite so, quite so. Moreover, isn't there space for fun as well as seriousness? For silly as well as nightmare-ish scares? (On which point I'm not sure what planet they were on but to the commentator on one site - I think The Stage: TV Today - who declared themselves unmoved by either 'The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances' and 'Blink', can I just say were you watching a different programme?! Not scary for adults? HUH?!!!!!!!!!! But I digress...)
That pinging sound you may hear will be the email you'll almost certainly be getting from Davies thanking you for your concern but explaining, bluntly I imagine, that he really doesn't see his time with Doctor Who as something he needed liberating from.
Really, seeing family aimed fantasy drama as automatically bad, and adult kitchen sink reality drama as the only thing 'decent drama' writers should be involved with, in this day and age? That's a prejudice so old, and so lacking in critical worth or validity, it's almost quaint.
Whilst I share the 'amazement' at a week where DW isn't mentioned or pictured on the cover of the Radio Times, part of me goes 'grrr' at the almost childish tantrum Sutcliffe seems to throw at Doctor Who. I'd love to know what it's like in his house when his kids are watching the programme...