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SL: Some have said that the whole amnesia thing is pandering to anti-intellectualism. That American audiences were put off by the feeling that the Doctor was “too smart”. Is that the case here?
PS: Not at all. After the pilot, we went back and took a long look at the old series. This is probably going to upset the anoraks, but if you watch those early serials with an open mind, you get the impression that the Doctor hasn’t really been traveling that long. That maybe it’s something he’s wanted to do for a long time, but he’s only just now gotten the chance. Everything he encounters is completely new to him and he’s intensely curious about everything. It’s not until you get into the 1970s that he starts talking about all these places he’s been and people he’s met before. Early on, it’s all about him seeing things for the first time. We wanted to capture some of that, but obviously we still needed a very experienced Doctor because of the Time War element.
SL: So the amnesia plot was a way to have your cake and eat it too?
PS: Exactly. We have a Doctor who is very good at figuring things out, but he’s going into things blind, and the audience gets to learn about these new worlds along with him.
SL: There’s also lot of talk that this might be a distinctively American move, to give the Doctor an ongoing “quest” to restore his memory. Is that going to be an overarching storyline for this season?
PS: It isn’t something we plan to return to at the moment. Remember that this isn’t the kind of amnesia where he can’t remember his his childhood. All he’s lost is his knowledge of the universe. For someone like the Doctor, that’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity. Like getting the chance to read your favorite book again for the first time.
SL: Then the stories are going to be more stand-alone, rather than having an ongoing storyline?
PS: I wouldn’t say that. It’s something we want to build toward slowly, but one thing you will see as the season goes on is the Doctor having to deal with the consequences of his actions and stories that lead into each other. That’s another
budget was a remake of The Ark, where we could have the Doctor visit the same place at different times, and have to deal with problems that came up because of his actions in the past.
SL: This isn’t the first we’ve heard about remakes of original series episodes. Some people have been hoping the new series will be a continuation of the original. Are you saying now that it’s definitely a reboot?
PS: Heh. I don’t want to give away all my secrets just yet. The official rule we gave to the writers is that they aren’t to make any direct references to the original series. For the moment, we’re not saying whether Hugh is playing the first Doctor or the eighth or the eleventh. Right now, he’s just “The Doctor”.
SL: That’s the official policy, but what’s your personal opinion?
PS: My personal opinion is, “It’s complicated.” The Time War changed everything. Maybe when the war started, he was the eighth Doctor, but now history has changed so much that some or all of his past lives didn’t happen any more. Or maybe to end the Time War, the Doctor had to reboot the entire universe. I guess you could say that it’s a new universe, but we haven’t completely closed the door to the old one.
SL: The best of both universes?
PS: I’ve given that answer a lot, haven’t I? The point is that our goal is to produce the best possible Doctor Who for the nineteen-nineties and beyond, and we’re not going to let ourselves get hung up on those sorts of things. If there’s a good story to be had by revisiting the original series, we’ll do it.