I went to see Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue tonight. I made notes like the good little researcher I am, and I’ve picked out a few things that might interest my fellow writers:

– They originally wanted 6-12 episodes of 60 minutes. The ninety minute format gave them the opportunity to write longer scenes – there were scenes of nine to eleven pages, which is very different from the short, sharp scenes of Doctor Who.

– They had small living room focus groups for the early pilot drafts. Moffat said that you need to treat such things with circumspection and care – people try to be interesting when asked for their opinion.

– The problem with adapting some of the short stories with the Granada version was that there were only really twenty minutes of plot. How did they solve it – “walking very slowly”. Moffat said ACD would’ve just stuck in another bit of plot to make it work – their problem was that they were too faithful to the original. ACD’s famous line for adaptations: “You may marry, murder or do what you like with him”

– On adaptations in general: “You have to write it like you own it” (also for spec, maybe?)

– Asked how long it would take to write a ninety minute episode, Moffat said “from the moment starting it to the absolute last moment before all TV crumbles”. It’s good that procrastination never goes away!

– Asked if Sherlock was the most challenging thing he’d written, Moffat said that writing Sherlock was joyous. He finds the most challenging script the one he is writing right now – and thinks they were really easy afterwards: “I never remember the pain or I wouldn’t do it again”.

– He then went on to say that people always use words like “challenging”. Moffat much prefers to look for “certainty” – “You wouldn’t want a pilot to walk on the plan saying ‘This will be a challenging flight and I’m going to take some interesting risks’. You’d be off that plane so fast!”

Yeah, I still love this man.

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