Hello Stuart, thank you for agreeing to the interview. First of all I’d like to ask you, what first inspired you to begin He Who Moans?
Long story short: Like many people, I was a Steven Moffat cheerleader for the longest time and then something changed. While loving season 5 (mostly), I’d been in denial about season 6 (again, mostly) and considered it a minor blip. But then the Narnia Christmas special happened and it really changed my general impression of our current showrunner. Then Asylum of the Daleks happened and everyone around me was saying how, while not amazing, it was still really good and I was supposed to think it was really clever. So I made a crude five minute video asking “reaaaaaally?” to my fellow whovians and shoved it on youtube. So He Who Moans basically started as a way of medicating my losing faith in someone who’d been one of my favourite writers for quite a while.
How do you feel about how He Who Moans becoming something of a hit? Was it something you expected?
It’s sorta hit me out of nowhere that people are actually watching it. I was shoving them online for about a year and half lucky to get more than single digit views and then…I don’t really know what happened.
I think I’m really lucky to get lots of viewers who say that while they largely disagree with my opinionating, they still enjoy my immature and cynical take on the show, its really encouraging. I used to consider myself more of a satirist than a critic prior to what I’ve done on youtube and I think my viewers appreciate me more on that level. I’m better enjoyed if people remember not to take me all that seriously.
Do you think that because some Doctor Who fans love the show without really appreciating its flaws that your videos provide a sense of to the Doctor Who community?
I have no beef with people who think its flawless, art is always subjective to how its experienced afterall. But ultimately: critical thinking is always important and encouraging that’s my deal. The show won’t get better if we only focus on giving it backslaps and not recognising the missteps it makes in the wider realm of television beyond the perspective of the fandom cause as should be obvious: we all want it survive in the cutthroat environment of modern entertainment.So we as fans should try encourage it to keep getting better by highlighting areas they can build on.
Why do you think that video series like He Who Moans and The Five Who Fans Youtube channel are so popular at the moment?
We who nerds are a dedicated bunch. I’d primarilly say its because it’s now been a decade since the reboot. People who were inspired to get deeper into doctor Who by the reboot are grownups now and are forming their own artistic or critical voices so the intensive discussion has tripled in volume. And given its had such a massive impact on people its become one of the biggest media related things to talk about on the internet, so people like 5WF have formed their own works around it. Hell, I was shocked my videos had any attention at all because of the sheer volume of content people are making about Doctor Who online.
Have you ever felt, whether prior to making the series or during the making of it, that you couldn’t be bothered to watch a new episode of Doctor Who because you were put off by the previous story?
Kill the moon is the obvious one. I was really looking forward to it and wow did that script not manage to convince me for a second. I guess since it looked and sounded like it was going to be my sort of thing that my expectations intensified my reaction to it, as can happen with lots of people, its one of the key reasons that Moffat’s Who has had such a backlash in recent years. Maybe I was overreacting with KTM but Doctor Who fans like me can get so frustrated and overzealous because we expect so much to begin with. Though, course I’m always gonna continue if anything because I find endless nitpicking fun.
What direction would you hope Doctor Who to go in post Moffat?
In three words: more newer names. Jamie Mathieson leapt at the opportunity to write two episodes with much more enthusiasm than I’ve seen in recent years. No disrespect to Gatiss or Thompson but I’ve seen all they have to offer by this point. You can’t make the show feel fresh and exciting by refusing to take risks and I think more new and upcoming names will treat the opportunity to write for Doctor Who as “the biggest moment of my career so far” and I want to see more of that. As much as I like Mark Gatiss, he’s written pretty much the same episodes since 2010, hence my enthusiasm for more has kind of waned.
Finally, what He Who Moans videos can we expect in the future?
I’m gonna do a 10-part review of the Paul McGann Big Finish audios from start to finish featuring my trademark MS paint doodles and usual snark.