Doctor Who, Jenna Coleman

BBC Worldwide Limited

Doctor Who is back and better than ever…seriously!

The long-running series returns to BBC America tonight with pep in its step and a gleam in its eye, making for an incredibly fun two-part premiere.

The danger is still ever-present, of course, but it's almost as if the Doctor and Clara have never been happier, according to showrunner Steven Moffat.

"Their version of joy, remember, is when they're in real danger, where people are dying," Moffat tells E! News.

Last season was hard on the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman), with their relationship nearly torn apart by lies and the death of Clara's boyfriend, Danny, but don't expect to see Clara in mourning. In fact, she's headed in the opposite direction.

"What she doesn't do in this series is she's not looking for a replacement," Moffat explains. "It's almost like she shut down from that. She's just not doing that. … Obviously we can't have a show about a girl moping around, and also people don't do that. They just change. So there is a sort of new recklessness about her, whereas before, when we first met her, quite cautious. Now, not cautious at all. Now, a bit mad, like she doesn't really mind what happens."

That new sort of recklessness is clear in the premiere, as are Clara and the Doctor's newfound trust after so many lies and betrayals last season.

"The lies have stopped in a way," Moffat tells us of their relationship. "She lied to him about all sorts of things, he lied to her in the sense of pretending he's been aloof from her… It all comes crashing to a halt when he says, "Did you think I cared for you so little betraying me would make a difference?" Just about as big a declaration of love as you can get. We're not pretending anymore. And when he just begs her to come back on the Tardis last Christmas, that's where they are. He's grabbing her hand and they're running in the Tardis and they're having the time of their lives."

At the same time, the Doctor is still walking the line between seeing Clara as an equal and a human he has to protect.

"There's a moment where he's like, it's enough that there's one of me, you don't have to be me as well," Moffat says. "You're getting too me, you're getting too reckless, I'm too addicted to all of this. But you know her addiction was very evident last year. That's the thing she could not give up. It has its dangers, but they're having the time of their lives, and the Doctor's occasionally remembering that she's much more fragile than he is, and then forgetting again, which is what he's always done."

Doctor Who, Jenna Coleman

BBC Worldwide Limited

In true Who fashion, the premiere delves right into some old familiar characters, balancing new and old. One new/old face you might see again is that of Missy (Michelle Gomez), the current face of the Doctor's BFF/worst enemy, the Master.

"She reappears in a role that will probably quite surprise you, but if you know the history of the Master, it wouldn't completely astonish you," Moffat explains. "We use her slightly differently. I've always been conscious of the fact that they are best buds. I think that's quite fun. In a line I stupidly cut, it's a friendship between a hunter and a vegetarian. She swats human beings like flies, he says that's terrible, and she says they're just flies, they're practically dead already, and what's in that bacon sandwich you're eating, Doctor? That's essentially the conversation."

As for this season's big, non-Alex Kingston guest star, Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams, she doesn't appear until a few episodes in, and Moffat would tell us absolutely nothing about her appearance.

"She comes on in episode five, and then you're on your own," he says. "Because—and you'll see why—it would spoil everything if I said how that character comes in."

Fortunately, there are plenty of things happening on Doctor Who to keep us happy until her arrival, from classic monster takedowns to clever jokes to possibly our favorite Doctor entrance in recent memory. In the end, however, it's all about the friendship between the Doctor and an impossible girl named Clara...until Jenna Coleman leaves later this season. 

"That's the story we're telling," Moffat says. "They're having the time of their lives running into danger, what could possibly go wrong?"

Doctor Who season nine kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 9 p.m. on BBC America.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share