Last night saw the BBC's official launch of the new series of Doctor Who to an invited audience that included the world's press and invited members of the public.
The evening was held at the Doctor Who Experience and included the premiere of the opening story – a two-part tale scripted by Steven Moffat, the show's lead writer and executive producer – and a Q&A session with Moffat and Doctor Who stars Matt Smith (the Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams) and Alex Kingston (River Song).
The story – The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon – sees Smith return after his debut series last year and follows on from the 2010 Christmas Special, A Christmas Carol and the mini-two-part story Space/Time, which were also written by Moffat.
Publicising the new series, Moffat said: "There's a big story being told this year, and major mysteries from the very off. As ever, in this show, the stories all stand alone, and every episode is a perfect jumping-on point for a new viewer. But at the same time the over-arching plot will be a bigger player this year. More than hints and whispers – we're barely 10 minutes into episode one before our heroes face a dilemma that they'll be staring at months from now. And there will be no easy answers."
Comparing the story to Moffat's 2005 chiller The Empty Child, the Guardian said: "By the end of the first episode it had drawn gasps and applause in almost equal measure [. . .] this was scary stuff."
Indeed, Moffat, agrees and warns of more scares to come: "Very scary. There's the Silence in episodes one and two, the Siren, in episode three, the Gangers in five and six, all these are more than just freaky costumes and masks; there are SCARY ideas here. And just wait till you meet Idris in episode four."
Elsewhere, Den of Geek reports: "Moffat has not only laid down a fascinating, intriguing path for the show to follow over the coming months [. . .], he’s also put together an opening adventure that’s quite brilliantly funny, narratively intricate, contains genuine jumps (it's exceptionally creepy at times), and sets a very, very high bar for what’s to follow."
Metro warns: "Make no mistake, this isn’t easy, switch-your-faculties-off entertainment – it’s big, dark, impressively ambitious, dazzlingly executed entertainment that demands and repays your full attention."
SFX agrees, adding: "[We] can’t tell you what happens in them. Not because of any non-disclosure agreement. Not even because we were asked not to reveal one specific bit of information. No. [We] can’t tell you, because they are so brilliant, so awesome, so downright epic that to do so would be a crime."
Series 6 of Doctor Who is due to launch in the UK, US and Canada on 23 April, with The Impossible Astronaut. The story also stars Stuart Milligan (Jonathan Creek) as President Richard Nixon and Mark Sheppard (The X-Files) as Delaware.
It will run for seven episodes and end on a cliff-hanger, of which Moffat had this to say: "Normally our cliff-hangers are lives being threatened; with this one, three live are changed FOREVER."
Doctor Who will then return in the autumn/fall for a further six episodes, followed by a special episode at Christmas.