AfterElton: The first two episodes of this season with the Canton Delaware character were terrific. I love what you did with the character, and I wonder if you could talk about where the idea came from and sort of the genesis of it.
Steven Moffat: I wanted a sort of kick-ass American agent, but he’d have to be someone off-centered because he’d have to be good with the Doctor. Someone who would trust the Doctor more than the President, which is a weird thing. Well, two things. One, I wanted to find ways that he wasn’t your typical agent, and I wanted to really annoy Nixon. [laughs] And I thought that would do it.
But also someone pointed out to me [that] in the previous Doctor Who, the first one I had run, there were no gay or bisexual characters and I was sort of slightly appalled. I was thinking, I’m not like that at all. I would never have done that. So I was thinking, “Dammit, it’s the one criticism I’ve ever listened to. Good point, Doctor Who should always be…” It’s not because it’s politically and morally correct. It’s right forDoctor Who, isn’t it? It’s cheeky and off-centered. And fun.
AE: I’ve think you’ve done such a good job with all the different characters and representing the world the way it is. At some point, not having a gay character is like not having a black character.
SM: Yeah. But you can’t be driven by that. I just think you should be open to it. It makes Canton more fun. The moment you hear that a whole other life just unfolds in your head.
It seems to me that Moff is kind of missing the most salient point: one should have minority people somewhere in your stories because minority people are in the world, make up the world, hold up half the sky, etc. We’re here, we’re always here, we’ve always been here. To not include us is simply inaccurate (as well as ultimately contributing to invisiblizing and othering minority people).
But he is right in that making Canton gay does put him at serious odds to the mainstream, the establishment. It makes him an outsider, even though he’s functioning as an insider to the FBI and the President. But I must admit to being a bit turned off by him saying being gay is “cheeky.” Yes, I do see his point, and I’m not just nit-picking. And he is right in saying, essentially, that gay/lesbian characters fit in with Doctor Who because we’re “off-centered.” At least, I’m taking “off-centered” to mean outside of the mainstream. Doctor Who is, I think, at its best when it’s anti-establishment, anti-authority, subversive. Off-centered? To the outside? The Doctor is always an outsider, so it fits to have other outsiders travel or work with him.
And, despite my little wincing at “cheeky,” I do appreciate that he’s trying to be an ally here, and took that critique to heart.