Steven Moffat has now been in charge for three full seasons of ‘Doctor Who’, which have been amazing/the worst ever, depending on who you let scream at you over the internet until they froth at the mouth, twitch and fall over. Capaldi’s debut year will therefore be his fourth full season in charge, and you have to assume he’ll soon be handing over the TARDIS key to some other writer. But who? Well, you can bet that whoever it is will have written for the show before, I can’t see them handing such an important show over to someone who hasn’t proven their affinity for Who scribbling. This means that, more likely than not, we’ve already enjoyed an episode or two from the next person to shoulder the white hot ire of fan-hate. Let’s take a look at a few of the most likely suspects.
A lifelong Who fan, he’s been with the shows revival from the start and written numerous episodes. He seems like the obvious candidate; he’s a fan, he’s written for the show extensively, and is also Moffat’s partner on that other BBC mega-hit, ‘Sherlock’. So it’s a done deal, right? I’m not so sure. Running a show like Who is a huge undertaking, and Gatiss likes to have his fingers in numerous pies, both as a writer and actor; will he really be willing to dramatically scale back his work to take on the heavy load? He’s already an established writer for the show, he could continue to write an episode here or there for the show he loves, and then carry on with all his other interests. But, as I just mentioned, this is a show he LOVES. He’s a lifelong fan; back in the 90’s, before he found fame with ‘The League of Gentlemen’, Gatiss was writing Who novels for the Virgin New Adventures series. Who is in his very DNA, perhaps sacrificing his other work to take on the show he’s been obsessed with since a child for three or four years is worth it? It’s possible, but I think he’s more than happy with the way things are now, and would probably not be willing to take the Who behemoth solely onto his own distinguished shoulders.
A lot of people would love this idea; I myself am a big Gaiman fan, so certainly the idea intrigues; but let’s get real, this one is not going to happen. Nope. On you go.
Written for ‘Doctor Who’? Oh yes; ‘School Reunion’ and ‘The God Complex’ in particular are looked upon rather fondly. Has he ran his own successful shows? Yup, he created ‘Being Human’, a big hit and highly regarded. With that show now having ended, it would seem that Whithouse could be potentially available to take the reins. I think Whithouse is a definite possibility, he seems like the cap fits and I would not be at all surprised to hear his name announced; but at the same time, something stops me making him the clear favourite.
He’s written several Who and ‘Torchwood‘ stories, and has emerged as a major showrunner in his own right with the surprise success of his ITV Detective series, ‘Broadchurch’ (which co-starred David Tennant, who some readers may remember played The Doctor some years ago). I would imagine he seems an attractive proposition to many at the BBC now, everyone wants to be associated with someone producing hits, but is it really likely? I don’t think so. Chibnall not only has more ‘Broadchurch’ to focus on, but there’s also the forthcoming American version, ‘Gracepoint’. I think Chibnall is too embroiled in his own self-created shows right now to be willing to put things on hold to take over Who.
Gareth Roberts has enjoyed a long history with ‘Doctor Who’, which continues with the announcement that, after giving Douglas Adams ‘Shada’ the novelisation treatment, he’s now doing the same for Adams classic Tom Baker story ‘City of Death’. Like Gatiss, he wrote several novels in the 90s for the Virgin New Adventure range, and has penned several episodes of the modern series. Between Who assignments, he’s also been heavily involved in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ and ‘Wizards Vs Aliens’. I think Roberts must be an option that’s been discussed, everything about him seems to make sense as a potential showrunner; everything except the fact he has yet to actually run a show himself. So, a distinct possibility, but does his lack of show running experience count against him?
Overman is a name I’ve heard bandied about a fair bit in relation to the Who showrunner role, and on the face of it, it certainly seems to make a lot of sense. He’s a high-profile showrunner in his own right, and has both written for and created shows with fantasy and sci-fi elements. His most acclaimed show is the now defunct ‘Misfits’, and his most recent creation, ‘Atlantis’, was broadcast last year in the traditional ‘Doctor Who’ slot on BBC 1. So, a good bet? Nah. He has yet to write an episode for Who, and until that happens I don’t see him as a serious contender. If his name is suddenly announced for season eight, however, then that changes everything and he would immediately be flagged as a front-runner.
Now then, Phil Ford; this is an interesting one… It was the announcement of Ford’s return to the show, writing an episode for Capaldi’s first year, that really put his name in my thoughts again. He’s previously only written one Who episode, the highly regarded ‘The Waters of Mars’, and was not involved at all in the Matt Smith era. Instead he’s been writing for, and co-producing, two big hits for Children’s TV; ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’, and ‘Wizards Vs Aliens’. Both of these he ran with one Russell T Davies. So, he’s a highly regarded writer with a lot of Sci-fi/fantasy writing experience, and he’s a proven showrunner; is his return to the fold, this late in Moffat’s era, evidence that he’s being re-versed in Who in preparation for taking control in season ten..? I think he just may be. Currently he doesn’t seem to have been mentioned as a possibility, but if I were you, I’d keep an eye on him, he just may be the man steering ‘Doctor Who’ in the not too distant future…
So what do YOU think, hm? Have I picked the right person? Have I missed someone obvious?