In advance of the premiere of season 6 (which debuts stateside on BBC America on April 23, 2011), head writer Steven Moffat and stars Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), and Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams) talked about how the show has developed going int its second year with a new writing team and cast.
How has this season evolved from last year?
Steven Moffat: Well we've moved through the funfair a bit -- we've done the rollercoaster, now we're on the ghost train. Last year, in a way, was all about saying, don't worry, it's still him, it's still the same show, nothing's really been lost. Losing a leading man like David Tennant is seismic -- unless you gain a leading man like Matt Smith. It's been the biggest joy to see him stride in and just claim that TARDIS for his own. But now he's really here, and the part is his, and the bow tie is cool, he's ready to lead us places we didn't know existed. Last year we reassured you -- this year, to hell with that, we're going to worry the hell out of you. How well do we really know that man, or what he's capable of? We're putting the Who? back in the Doctor.
Is there a major story arc to look out for?
Steven Moffat: Oh, there's a big story being told this year, and major mysteries from the very off. As ever, in this show, the stories all stand alone, and every episode is a perfect jumping-on point for a new viewer. But at the same time the over-arching plot will be a bigger player this year. More than hints and whispers -- we're barely ten minutes into episode one before our heroes face a dilemma that they'll be staring at months from now. And there will be no easy answers.
Matt Smith: Steven has a grand plan and some of the seeds he planted in the last season start coming to fruition and affecting the characters in drastic ways. Every character is faced with the most seismic and high-stakes choices we've seen so far.
Karen Gillan: There were clues planted in the last season that are going to become major storylines in this one. There's a really interesting arc in this season that involves all of the major characters and it's evident from the first episode that everyone on the TARDIS is withholding secrets from one another. It makes for a fascinating dynamic between the characters and it's incredibly important to the overall season.
What about new monsters?
Steven Moffat: They're … scary. Very scary. And, ohh, I don't want to say more -- there's the Silence in 1 & 2, the Siren, in episode 3, the Gangers in 5 & 6, all these are more than just freaky costumes and masks; there are SCARY ideas here. And just wait till you meet Idris in episode 4.
Matt Smith: I think The Silence are one of the greatest monsters of recent years and certainly one of the scariest. They're also very clever and I love the fact they've been silently working since the dawn of time to make The Doctor come unstuck.
Karen Gillan: Ooh in particular I think The Silence, which are the new monsters in the opening two episodes, actually rival the Weeping Angels in terms of scariness and they look disgusting! The concept behind them is ingenious because it feels like they are undefeatable, and this season also sees the return of some of the Doctor's oldest foes, but with an interesting twist.
Arthur Darvill: The ambition of the show has grown, there are a lot of surprises this year. It's not necessarily a big monster on the screen, but ideas that are presented in episodes one and two that keep building throughout the season. I think The Silence are really going to blow people's socks off. They're terrifying.
How have the characters evolved?
Steven Moffat: The big difference, I suppose, is how long the Doctor is hanging around in the lives of his Companions. His normal MO is get them while they're young, and leave them while they're young too. He's careful to put them back where he found them, before he screws up their lives. But here he is, married couple on board -- and much as he loves them both, he does wonder if it isn't time he got out of the way. Before something really BAD happens.
Was it always the plan for Amy and Rory to get married?
Steven Moffat: Oh, always. Married couple on the TARDIS, that was the plan from the off.
How has the marriage changed things?
Matt Smith: I think with Rory, Arthur has perfectly judged the humor and he's got some fantastic storylines with Karen. I do think that Amy and Rory now being married has changed the dynamic in the TARDIS and in many ways it's the Doctor who is perhaps the odd one out. However, Karen and Arthur are hilarious and together we are always mucking around between takes and telling silly jokes to annoy each other!
Karen Gillan: I think Rory has perhaps developed the most out of all the characters. By the end of last season he became a Roman Centurion hero and he had changed a lot; it felt like he had earned his place in the TARDIS. In fact, it's hard for me to imagine the TARDIS without him now! If anything [Amy] is even more Amy Pondish! I don't think it would work for Amy to completely change now that she's a married woman and I certainly don't think she should become a subdued version of herself. However, I do think being married has helped to define the Doctor and Amy's relationship and I can reveal that something takes place this season which makes Amy see Rory in a new light.
Arthur Darvill: Last season I think Rory felt like he was on the outside looking into this world he was desperately trying to save Amy from. But he's very much inside that world now and married life has stopped him feeling so unworthy. He feels that he's proved himself. His sense of adventure has awoken. But he hasn't become arrogant in any way, he's just more comfortable. I think Amy will always wear the trousers in the relationship. As much as Rory has proved himself, it's Amy after all, and I dare any man to be in charge of that relationship. She's a firecracker.