BRIAN MINCHIN: OK, love the plans for Episode One. Great start to our season planning conference, Steven. See, not as hard as all that, is it? Steven? Steven, get away from the window.
STEVEN MOFFAT: Is this locked? Why is it locked? I just need a breath of fresh air. Just a short walk to the shops!
MINCHIN: Now Steven we’ve been through all this. All the exits are locked until we get the season mapped out.
MOFFAT: This is ridiculous! We’ve got plenty of time. I don’t know what everyone’s worried about.
MINCHIN: We start shooting tomorrow.
MOFFAT: Exactly! That leaves all of today and tonight and a bit of the morning! Plus I can keep writing while they’re shooting!
MINCHIN: Look, you know the deal. Give us one more season – just one – and we’ll release you from your contract. That door’s also locked, put the crowbar away.
MOFFAT: Just one more season? Then I’m free?
MINCHIN: And won’t it be nice to have all the scripts ready ahead of time?
MOFFAT: Nice for you, maybe. Look, there’s Benedict Cumberbatch!
MINCHIN: I’m not falling for that, Steven. Now sit down, relax and tell me about Episode Two.
MOFFAT: All right. OK then. So it’s set on this planet, a future human colony, where you have to smile or you get killed.
MOFFAT: What’s wrong with that?
MINCHIN: Nothing. It’s great. Keep going.
MOFFAT: No, what’s wrong with it? That’s genuine 100% Moffat genius, that is!
MINCHIN: It’s just… that’s The Happiness Patrol, isn’t it?
MOFFAT: No it’s not! It’s completely different.
MINCHIN: How is it different?
MOFFAT: Well there’s no Happiness Patrol, for a start. No Helen A or Fifi. And certainly no Kandyman!
MINCHIN: I’m certainly glad to hear that! Can you imagine? A novelty robot with some cutesy, gimmicky design quirk. What is the monster, by the way?
MOFFAT: I think I see a trap door over there…
MINCHIN: Louder, Steven.
MINCHIN: Robots which communicate via emojis?
MOFFAT: But they’re not like the Kandyman, OK? For a start, there are heaps of them and they’re white, silent and featureless.
MINCHIN: So they’re more like the Handbots then?
MOFFAT: No Brian, they’re a completely new idea!
MINCHIN: OK, fine.
MOFFAT: And anyway, they’re not even the monster. The emojibots are just the interface for thousand of microscopic robots which make up the buildings of this colony.
MINCHIN: So they’re like the nanogenes in The Empty Child?
MOFFAT: No, Brian. These ones strip the flesh from people’s bones leaving only their skeletons behind!
MINCHIN: Like the Vashta Nerada.
MOFFAT: Look, do you want 12 episodes this year or will we have to make another series of Class?
MINCHIN: No, no! All fine, let’s keep going. What else happens in it?
MOFFAT: Right, so you have to keep smiling, right? Or the bots kill you. So imagine smiling all the time, even when those around you are dying. The physical strain of having to smile through all that… the tension will be palpable! And look, Capaldi will have to actually smile, that alone will be worth the cost of admission.
MINCHIN: It’s just that…
MOFFAT: Oh, here we go!
MINCHIN: Well, that’s Blink, isn’t it? Not being able to perform an involuntary physical action on pain of death. And you did it again in Deep Breath. And kind of in Last Christmas too, where people couldn’t think about the dream crab things.
MOFFAT: Yeah, but it’s still good!
MINCHIN: Hey, that’s a thought: there are no dream states or people trapped in virtual worlds or anything again?
MOFFAT: No, of course not. Not until Episode Six.
MINCHIN: I hope I remembered to bring the Panadol before I locked that door. Ok, what happens next?
MOFFAT: So the Doctor and Bill meet this young kid…
MINCHIN: Of course they do.
MOFFAT: who leads them to a buried spaceship…
MINCHIN: a LINK to Closing Time…
MOFFAT: where cryogenically frozen humans, who have fled from a global catastrophe are all waking up…
MINCHIN: Hello, The Ark in Space…
MOFFAT: and fighting breaks out between the humans and their former, and now self-aware servants…
MINCHIN: via The Rebel Flesh…
MOFFAT: before the Doctor works out that it’s all due to…
MINCHIN: Malfunctioning technology?
MOFFAT: Great! Yes! And then the Doctor…
MINCHIN: Reboots the system?
MOFFAT: How did you know?
MINCHIN: Lucky guess. I can see you trying to get that ventilation shaft open, Steven.
MOFFAT: (acidly) Just checking for new, un-cliched ideas.
MINCHIN: Seriously? In a ventilation shaft?
MOFFAT: Anyway, that’s Episode Two.
MINCHIN: What will we call it? The Happiness Robots? The Nanobot Patrol?
MOFFAT: I was thinking just Smile.
MINCHIN: Sure, again like Blink and Deep Breath and Listen and so on. Well, we can make it look a bit exotic, emphasise the differences…
MOFFAT: Look, give me a break, Minchin! I’ve been on this show since 2005. I’ve written more Doctor Who than anyone ever. Every year there’s another dozen episodes to fill. So yes, I’m going to, occasionally, repeat myself. It’s gonna happen.
MINCHIN: Fair enough. Let’s get someone else in to write it then. Who do you want?
MOFFAT: I was thinking FCB.
MINCHIN: FC Barcelona?
MOFFAT: No, but ooh… we should shoot it in Spain! But I meant Frank Cottrell Boyce.
MINCHIN: You’re right, I’m sure everyone’s forgiven him by now. OK, so Episode Three?
MOFFAT: Right, so, set at the last great frost fair.
MINCHIN: Oh, good, so like you mentioned in A Good Man Goes to War.
MOFFAT: And beneath the Thames, there’s a giant marine creature being tortured…
MINCHIN: So, like The Beast Below?
MOFFAT: I swear, I will erase you from Doctor Who, Brian!
MINCHIN: The Happiness Patrol, eh?
MOFFAT: Count yourself lucky it wasn’t Silver Nemesis.
FLUNKIE: Steven, can you sign off on this? Someone wants to complete Shada again, this time using woollen puppets and dioramas.
MOFFAT: Yes, of course. *bolts through the door*
MINCHIN: *sighs* Get Chibnall on the phone. See if he can start early.
NEXT TIME… and I was having such a nice day. We take a trip down to Boom Town.