Gareth Roberts has been giving the lowdown on his latest Doctor Who script, and reveals he had a brief for The Caretaker to put the Doctor back into an everyday situation as lived by we humans after the intergalactic wanderings of recent weeks:
“Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin wanted to show the new Doctor in everyday life in the present day. He’s been in the past and future a lot already this year so it was time to bring him to the here and now. I’d written The Lodger and Closing Time for Matt Smith’s Doctor and they wanted something along similar lines.”
As evidenced by the finished episode, Roberts clearly enjoyed exploring how the new Doctor reacted to his surroundings:
“Peter’s Doctor is still a fish out of water in our world but in a very different way to Matt. He doesn’t have any time for social niceties, or even trying to blend in. He thinks it’ll be easy. Also, Steven had carefully plotted out the story of the Doctor, Clara and Danny across the series, and this episode is a major turning point for them all.”
Elsewhere in the interview Roberts shows he has a long memory when it comes to the series (first Who memory? “a black blob” menacing the Doctor and Jo Grant in the trailer for The Three Doctors) and displays his eclectic tastes in cultural pleasures away from Doctor Who (“Marc Almond, Blake’s 7, Herodotus, John Dickson-Carr, The Good Wife, Van Der Graaf Generator, Nurse Jackie, Sparks, Locke & Key… I could go on.”).
Whether he sought the role or not, Gareth Roberts does seem to have become the go-to guy for Steven Moffat when he wants a relatively low-key, Earth-bound, humorous adventure which allows us to see how the Doctor copes when he’s plonked into a humdrum life and forced to get on with it – just like The Caretaker.
After three consecutive scripts with a similar premise it would be nice if he was allowed to kick back a little and indulge the comic inventiveness that created The Shakespeare Code and The Unicorn and the Wasp in earlier seasons. Long term fans of his work will be looking forward eagerly to next year’s Big Finish adaptations of The Romance of Crime, The English Way of Death and The Well-Mannered War, three of the most highly regarded Missing Adventure novels from the 1990s.
His answers in the interview even hint (probably unwittingly) at potential settings for future episodes which would surely see his vivid imagination set loose. Greatest fear? “The thing I’m most scared of would be society breaking down. I really like modern civilization. Except for rollercoasters.” Most interesting place visited? “Skara Brae. A perfectly preserved prehistoric village on the Orkney Islands. The Orkneys in general are so full of history. They make Stonehenge look like Hartlepool bus station.”
A Doctor Who story set in a post-apocalyptic future, filmed in location in the Orkneys? I’m excited already…
Read the full interview at Doctor Who TV.