Last Monday’s interview of Dr. Who script editor Andrew Cartmel by SCIFI.radio talk show Legend of the Traveling TARDIS host Christian Basel has turned out to be quite the bombshell in Doctor Who fandom. A veteran of the Classic era of Doctor Who television production, Cartmel, has criticised The Timeless Children canon changes, arguing he believes it “depletes the mystery” of Doctor Who.
Cartmel said: “I think as soon as we delve into the minutiae, into the fine detail, of what Chibnall’s done… Chibnall’s obviously done a reset on it, which is great, but as soon as you start to specify that reset you’re back in the same old problem that you’re explaining too much. You just want to say ‘what you thought you knew was going on you didn’t, it’s much more than that’, and leave it there.”
Fans of the classic series will recall that Cartmel himself planned to implement a backstory for the Doctor during his time on the show, known today as the “Cartmel Masterplan”. However, Cartmel had wanted to only tease the Doctor’s background, retaining the mystery. He thinks The Timeless Children damages the franchise by blowing the mists away and laying all the cards on the table.
He elaborated: “All I wanted to do [with the “Cartmel Masterplan”] is throw the Doctor back into shadow again and just give hints of what was going on. And [with “The Timeless Children”] there’s a lot of detail in specifics, which is the last thing you want. Number one: it depletes the mystery, and number two: that was the chief failing of the Moffat era.
“Moffat’s an incredibly good writer, in some ways the great Doctor Who writer, but he would always get hung up on all these tiny little details of the mythos, of the mythology. You just didn’t know what the hell was going on.”
Cartmel concludes: “So when you get too hooked on detailing the mythology the snake is kind of swallowing its tail, and it sounds like Chris is somewhat making the same mistake that Steve did.”
Cartmel isn’t happy with some of the other plot devices used on the show either: “If I was to return to the show, with any autonomy as a writer, the first thing I would do is get rid of that ****ing sonic screwdriver, I gotta tell you!”
The controversy is already beginning to light up discussion threads on Facebook and Reddit, especially given that the events of The Timeless Children apparently retconned the whole of the history of Gallifrey.
SCIFI.radio is listener supported sci-fi geek culture radio, and operates almost exclusively via the generous contributions of our fans via our Patreon campaign. If you like, you can also use our tip jar and send us a little something to help support the many fine creatives that make this station possible.