Our readers once voted them their favourite monsters ever and, for many, they’re certainly the scariest.
But although the Weeping Angels are almost as old as the universe itself and appear in the Doctor’s adventures all across space and time, Steven Moffat has revealed that the inspiration for them came from a holiday in Dorset.
Speaking to the Oxford Union last week, Moffat said that he “walked past this graveyard and it was chained up, with a sign that said ‘unsafe structure within’”.
“I thought, ‘ha! I’m going to go and have a look at it’. Inside was a weeping angel, and that’s where I got the idea from”, he told students.
That explains the creepy, Victorian graveyard feel but what about their ability to move quickly when not being observed by humans?
Well, several years later, Moffat returned with his son to find that the angel had gone.
“There was the sign, that said ‘unsafe structure within’, but no weeping angel,” he recalled.
“There are two possible explanations. One is that weeping angels are real. The other is that I somehow made up the weeping angel and it was never there. And here’s the thing that bothers me to the day: I don’t think I envisaged that.
“I think I clearly saw a weeping angel. But I can’t find it anywhere, I can’t find it in the records.”
Weeping Angels were introduced in the 2007 episode Blink and are the villain that left fans too terrified to hide behind the sofa, for fear of being sent back in time for not keeping their eyes open.
They proved so popular that they’ve since made comebacks in 2010’s The Time of Angels and 2012’s The Angels Take Manhattan with their most recent appearance in season nine finale Hell Bent.
Moffat says his search for the truth about the angel in Dorset has only been made worse by the fame of his own creation…
“The trouble with trying to find it is if I enter into Google ‘weeping angel’, I get nothing but weeping angels from Doctor Who!
“If anyone ever comes across an original weeping angel, where I got the idea from, I’d love to hear from you.”
At the same Q&A, Moffat also revealed that he was excited about the Doctor Who Christmas Special, and that it was “one of the ones where everything just seemed to click into place”.
The episode, airing on Christmas Day, will feature the Doctor in New York, with a deadly alien, investigative journalist and a superhero. As David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor once told fans: “whatever you do, don’t blink”.