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The Speculator’s Guide to… The Next Showrunner

Guest contributor Francis Milan takes a look at who could take over the reigns from Moffat.

As confirmed in an interview last month, Steven Moffat’s days left as showrunner are well and truly finite. He’s had a good, yet enormously divisive run, but despite claims of his tenure enduring for a thousand years, it seems we’re closer to the end than we are from the beginning. This begs the big question – who’ll be the next King (or Queen) of Who? For speculation purposes, I’ve shortlisted the likely (and some fairly unlikely) candidates, and considered their likely début, for all your speculating needs.

I will award each candidate a ‘Credibility’ rating – on a scale of one to ten – to evaluate how seriously we should take the proposition. (For example, whereas William Shakespeare would get a one, Moffat himself would achieve a ten.)

WHO?

god-complex-doctor-corridorToby Whithouse

A bookies’ favourite (that is, if bookies were into that sort of thing) is the fantastic Toby Whithouse. A writing regular on Doctor Who, his scripts are well-known for their exploration of the Doctor’s conscience and inner turmoil, as well as incorporating brilliant antagonists, dialogue, and a warm sense of humour. Most of the episodes rank among the best ever, such as The God Complex and School Reunion. His showrunning capabilities are well-known; among his television works are popular BBC Three comedy drama Being Human and upcoming BBC One spy thriller The Game.

Credibility: 8/10

mark-gatiss-hartnell-tardisMark Gatiss

A regular on the Doctor Who scene for over 20 years, and the most prolific non-showrunner to write for the modern show, Mark Gatiss is most certainly one of the most suitable men for the job. His experience writing multiple novels and episodes of Doctor Who and its spectacular spin-off docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time, as well as being one of the showrunners and masterminds behind Sherlock are more than enough reason to deem him worthy of the job. However, a common observation is his penchant for setting almost all his stories in the past, where his talents and passions are strongest. Hey, he could always pull a Season 7 and set the entire series in the 70s. Well, one can dream…

Credibility: 9/10

Chris Chibnall

chibnall-stories-2007-12The brainbox behind recent television phenomenon Broadchurch, Chris Chibnall is no stranger to running a very popular and demanding show. Nor is he a stranger to Doctor Who and Torchwood, for that matter – his repertoire of diverse episodes includes The Hungry Earth and Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, and he also has experience in writing minisodes, with 5-day serial Pond Life and moving epilogue P.S. under his belt. Broadchurch shouldn’t be detrimental to the prospect of running Doctor Who, though; Moffat has proven with Sherlock that two major shows is, for some writers, a manageable workload! Despite this, most of his stories have been very divisive among the fandom, and many may be disappointed by his appointment.

Credibility: 9/10

Doctor Who The Lodger PicsGareth Roberts

Since making his Doctor Who début in 2007 with The Shakespeare Code, after a long line of 1990s tie-in novels, writer and funnyman Gareth Roberts was something of a constant on the show for the five years following. Though we haven’t seen any of his televised work since 2011′s Closing Time, we’ve been promised his triumphant return in Capaldi’s first series. His broad skillset includes his versatility in terms of both format and story, and his previous work as head writer on Series 1 of The Sarah Jane Adventures. As he enjoys great literary success with recent novels such as the popular Shada and the hotly-anticipated novelisation of City Of Death, it could be said that his talents are best used elsewhere – but he’s certainly fit for the job!

Credibility: 6/10

watersofmars5Phil Ford

Though it would seem he is currently an ill-experienced candidate as far as the main show is concerned, Phil Ford’s sole script contribution came in the form of the undeniably spectacular The Waters of Mars five years ago; a co-write with Russell T Davies. On top of that, Moffat has invited him back to write Capaldi’s second adventure this year. Furthermore, looking in to the expanded universe of television sheds a little more light on why Ford would be such a popular choice – we can gather from his dominant stories in the likes of The Sarah Jane Adventures and Wizards Vs Aliens that he has a talent for producing a large quantity of high-standard scripts each year, which is a big part of the showrunner’s job.

Credibility: 7/10

neil-cross-matt-smith-2012Neil Cross

New kid on the block, Neil Cross, penned last year’s Hide before being called back to write another: The Rings of Akhaten. Also last year, his massively popular crime drama Luther drew to an end. He’s shown great potential as a Who scriptwriter, and is passionate enough to tackle the challenge of showrunner; he stated in DWM last year that though he is concerned about the high pressure involved, the child inside him would meet the question with an enthusiastic “Yes!”. So, all he needs now is for Steven Moffat to offer him the job. But the question is, will he be asked…?

Credibility: 7/10

gaiman-tardisNeil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is often cited as a high-flyer when the topic of the next showrunner is unearthed. After all, why not; a popular novelist and all-round bright spark in the storytelling industry, his two Doctor Who masterpieces are the The Doctor’s Wife and the not-as-perfect-but-still-pretty-great Nightmare in Silver. His writing is heavily theme-based: we could almost certainly expect wilder fantasy elements in the show’s ethos, while still remaining faithful the show’s history – he’s a lifelong fan. Be that as it may, Gaiman has often spoken out about the prospect of becoming showrunner being far too draining. While he is happy to spend up to six months on draft after draft of a single story, he simply doesn’t have enough time to run the show. But that’s probably not the last we’ve heard from him!

Credibility: 3/10

girl-who-waited-generic-promoTom MacRae

From looking at his two Doctor Who outings, Tom MacRae is a popular writer of Doctor Who with the fans – Rise of the Cybermen and The Girl Who Waited are two very notable stories in the modern series. However, his showrunning experience is somewhat narrow – he has created and is still currently running sitcom Threesome for Comedy Central, but nothing anywhere near as demanding as Who. He would be a very odd choice considering his lack of experience on this show, but it’s very obvious that he can write a corker of a script.

Credibility: 4/10

russell-t-davies-rtdRussell T Davies

The fanboy in me couldn’t resist including RTD as a likely candidate. Does it really need explaining why? He’s a crowd-pleaser, and adored among the majority of the fandom. However, the very essence of Doctor Who is change, and Russell’s re-appointment could be detrimental to the image of the show. (Nevertheless, he’d be my ideal choice, and that of many others!) Also, his reasons for stepping down as showrunner back in 2009 presumably still stand, and he is still experiencing success on CBBC’s Wizards Vs Aliens and is currently penning two upcoming dramas for Channel 4.

Credibility: 2/10

A Coalition

There’s one major option I haven’t covered – what if Doctor Who is primarily run by two, three or more writers/producers? The most likely prospect, if this were to happen, would be Moffat/Gatiss – a partnership already established on Sherlock, it would help ease Moffat’s current workload and potentially lengthen his time in the role. Seeing as there’s proof that the concept works in practice, the chance of a partnership forming at the top of the Who hierarchy isn’t all that slim. So, if a coalition were to happen, who would you have on the team?

WHEN?

Never mind who will take over – when might the changeover happen? There’s quite a range of possible exit points for Steven Moffat.

The End of Series 8

In the aforementioned interview, Moffat stated that he would leave when he “stopped enjoying” the job; a similar suggestion given by Matt Smith when asked about his departure – only a matter of months before the date was announced. Following this trend, this could mean Moffat’s already on his way out. But it’s unlikely.

Series 9, Episode 3

If maths serves me well, Russell T Davies departed his tenure as showrunner with a total of 60 episodes under his belt, while Moffat has, as of Christmas 2013, produced 44. If his competitive side gets the better of him, he may consider postponing his departure until he beats Davies’ tally. Assuming the 14-episode series format will remain in Capaldi’s run, Moffat will have reached a grand total of 61 episodes by Series 9, Episode 3, and he can depart with smug satisfaction…

Series 9

Steven recently confirmed that Series 9 will happen, and that it will continue the same format as Series 8. Does this suggest that Moffat will still be around to produce it in its entirety? Probably.

Peter Capaldi’s Departure

Alas, the most logical prediction would be that Steven will leave with his Doctor in tow. This was the way Russell’s departure worked out, as he and David Tennant left the show at the same time, so it seems only sensible that the man who brought the Twelfth Doctor to life should see him through to his end. When the ‘end’ in question will be is a total mystery, however. But let’s not dwell on the end of the Twelfth Doctor – this party’s only just started!

So, will Mark Gatiss be taking over the reins at the dawn of the Thirteenth Doctor? Or can we expect a Gaiman/Roberts coalition taking control from Series 9, Episode 4? All we can be certain of is that time will tell. It always does…

Step back in time...

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204 comments
TheOncomingStorm
TheOncomingStorm

I really don't want it to be Gatiss, I just don't like many of the episodes he's written for the show at all. Toby Whithouse would probably be my first choice (excluding RTD), and then Gareth Roberts. I'm not so keen on Chibnall's episodes, and though I loved The Doctor's Wife, I think Gaiman is basically a novelist and he probably wouldn't suit the job of showrunner. And he'd be too busy.

Jamesss
Jamesss

>no mention of Paul Cornell


hankim912
hankim912

I wish Mark Gatiss to be in charge of :D

gingersnapgirl
gingersnapgirl

pleasebeWhithousepleasebeWhithousepleasebeWhithouse! 


In my opinion, the other candidates are either generally uninspiring (Gatiss in particular - I love him personally but his DW stories (aside from An Adventure in Time and Space!) never seem to grab me), not experienced enough (coughPhilFordcough), or just implausible (looking at you, Messrs. Gaiman and Davies). 

Wouldn't be averse to a Gatiss/someone else teamup though... oh man, that could be awesome!



no_tweeter
no_tweeter

Fine with anyone on that list except RTD or Chris Chibnall.

geronimon
geronimon

why nicholas briggs for showrunner







- man makes dalek voice 

- starter of the time war


rate: 10/10



kreehomel
kreehomel

I would like to see either Whithouse, Chibnall or Gatiss or some combination of them in the role. Part of me hopes that Gatiss won't get it so he and Moffat can concentrate on Sherlock, though. And I hope that, unlike RTD, when he leaves Moffat may still contribute the occasional script perhaps another standalone like Blink or The Girl in the Fireplace.

VortexDan
VortexDan

I feel like they need someone New to Who, like RTD was.  I'd love a woman to write the show, maybe clean up the rampant disgusting sexism all over Moffat's series

Christopher Brown
Christopher Brown

Roberts and Ford I could see - Sarah Jane proved that the two have creativity and craftsmanship to spare, and it would be nice if they could combine that and the no-nonsense approach from the SJA along with the more gritty/adult challenges of the Doctor's travels. I'd also like Neil Cross to take a crack at it, he showed a lot of creativity in his two Series 7 stories. Gatiss is a good writer as has been shown with An Adventure in Space and Time and Night Terrors, but his plotting is almost anti-watertight and he relies too much on nostalgia to inform much of his work for my liking. Chibnall has too much of a mixed track record, RTD had his time...and frankly, it's time for Moffat to go. On the whole Series 7 was really, very, shockingly crap, and while "The Day of the Doctor" and the surrounding specials turned out to be awesome the Christmas special afterward was such a mess that I really doubt Moffat's ability to continue whatever narrative threads he sets up in a satisfying manner. He seems to be sticking to his bizarro "45 minutes is perrrfecttt story length" philosophy which turned out to be utterly misjudged, and I'm afraid he might set the trend for seasons comprised of nothing but rushed, unsatisfying pantomimes. The lack of a delay between Series 8 and 9 suggests to me that he's leaving after this year, and to his credit I wish him a good run (and pray that his era doesn't continue its alarming downward spiral since Series 5, which I loved).

TheOncomingSnow
TheOncomingSnow

No Whithouse...please anyone but Whithouse or Roberts...

mczolly
mczolly

Let's just not get all started on Season 7 and whether those episodes were set in the 70s or the 80s. :)


DW_girl
DW_girl

Whithouse and Gattis, for me.

RichardDannenberg
RichardDannenberg

I think it would be interesting if a new head writer were to take charge in the middle of Capaldi's era, so we could have some interesting and different type of changes

KingOfTheInterWebs has Kidneys
KingOfTheInterWebs has Kidneys

It seems a bit pointless going on about this now, in the interview with the Moff he stated he'll leave if doesn't enjoy it anymore, he runs out of ideas and wants to give someone else a shot or it swamps his schedule, since he's implied it won't happen yet and the spirit is obviously still in him it seems premature.

dalek WHOnews
dalek WHOnews

i think simon nye should be the new head writer


HisNameIsTheDoctor
HisNameIsTheDoctor

I din't particularly like any of Chibnall's stories 42 - 4/10, Cold Blood - 6/10, Dinos - 4/10 and TPo3 - 6/10

Petrolheaded Wholockian
Petrolheaded Wholockian

I really wish people would stop going on about Moffat leaving who will take over. He hasn't left, so shut up and deal with it

AlexWong1
AlexWong1

NO! Mark Gatiss would be a horrible choice. So far anything he has written for Doctor Who has been absolutely appalling (with the possible exception of AAITAS)! Having him would be a definite turn for the worse. P.S. I am sorry to anyone who likes his work

No More
No More

Why nobody suggested Peter Davison? 

parrot999
parrot999

Hmmm... I'm up for Gatiss... Though TBH, any of the current writes except Chibnall and Cross would be alright to me...

As for when Moffat will leave, I'm guessing (but kind of hoping to the contrary) at the end of this series. I think he wants to set up the new Doctor before moving on... The main reason I think this, is it was unintentional for Davies and Tennant to leave at the same time. If I'm not mistaken, when Davies decided to leave, it was planned that Moffat would have the last season (or couple) of Tennant's run, so as to ease current fans into the new writing style... Unfortunately, Tennant decided to leave that year, resulting in the New Showrunner, New Doctor combo. Fact is, we are still seeing complaints about this very sudden shift to this very day... Try doing that again, and see what happens to the fanbase...

DrWhoGoesThere
DrWhoGoesThere

There are three reasons I don't want Moffat to leave anytime soon:

1) I really like his writing and what he has done for Doctor Who.

2) Probably, not necessarily but probably, he will leave when Peter Capaldi leaves, and I don't foresee wanting that to happen anytime soon.

3) None of the current batch of writers are fit for the job.  They're OK, but not really showrunner material.   Hopefully soon we will get a new batch of inspired and inspiring writers who are fit to take the reins of our favorite show.

ClaraOswald
ClaraOswald

I would really like Chris Chibnall to take over when Moffat leaves.

AlfredOazard
AlfredOazard

Chibnall can be a good showrunner (with Broadchurch), but also a lame one (Torchwood). And I really don't like his work on Doctor Who, especially his last episodes. I think he's good to depict human relationships, as in Broadchurch, but he's not that good on science-fiction. Gatiss is a bit the same for me, he's a good showrunner on Sherlock, but his episodes are a bit "meh" ... He needs a co-writer to deliver a full good episode. My choices would be for Whithouse and Neil Cross, the 2 who can deliver clever episodes, thematically rich, and with a real work on the Doctor's psychology.


Gallifrey Falls
Gallifrey Falls

I'd live to see a Moffat/Gatiss coalition. Gatiss would bring a whole lot of needed humour to the show

DawnTime
DawnTime

Gareth Roberts for me. I have quite a few of his books which are really good. I generally really enjoy his episodes as well.  I think we could have Moffat for a couple of more years so I am not worrying at the moment.

DalekSupreme1
DalekSupreme1

I don't really understand why Toby Whithouse has only got 8/10 when he's the bookies' favourite... Also I personally would love to see MacRae as showrunner, regardless of experience - I don't remember Moffat having masses of experience when he joined the team, and now he's running the two most successful dramas on TV today! (Actually all he'd done was a teen drama series and two sitcoms)!

flyingcatman7131
flyingcatman7131

@VortexDan  Yeah, shame on Moffat for writing a female character that sacrifices herself to save the Doctor, at every moment in his life, and the entire universe.

Polyphase
Polyphase

@VortexDan I think the sexism is disgusting as well. All the men seem to be portrayed as dumb one dimensional characters and all the women are smart and selfish

KingOfTheInterWebs has Kidneys
KingOfTheInterWebs has Kidneys

@dalek WHOnews As much as I love Amy's Choice to bits, that's been his only Doctor Who story so far and has shown no signs of coming back to write another episode as of yet. It would not only be highly unlikely but heavily confusing for some fans.

DalekSupreme1
DalekSupreme1

@Petrolheaded Wholockian  I think this is a nice way of seeing what people think of different writers - it doesn't necessarily have to be completely relevant to what's going on backstage in the Whoniverse

KingOfTheInterWebs has Kidneys
KingOfTheInterWebs has Kidneys

@AlexWong1 I'm know not everyone likes his work. (In fact a lot of people hate his work. I personally have never figured out why myself which is why I'm one for his writing) but it's a bit much to state it firmly as opposed to simply giving your opinion. For all we know he could be a great showrunner.

Moxx
Moxx

You seem to misunderstand that I used the word 'a' - the indefinite article - so whereas he is a bookies' favourite, he is by no means the bookies' favourite. I just wanted a little variation as the article went on. You have a fair point about MacRae - though I feel there are many more likely candidates in the running.

VortexDan
VortexDan

@flyingcatman7131 @VortexDanToo bad that's her whole character, and making the woman's character revolve entirely around that of a man. Women aren't people, they're puzzles

AlexWong1
AlexWong1

Yeah I know sorry about that. But ever since part one of series 7 the stories have been falling pretty flat and I have since been dreaming that Moffat would finally step down (not that everything he has done is bad, I really enjoyed the Doctor trilogy) and when he finally anounced that he is I was quite pleased. But if anyone is taking over I thoroughly believe that it shouldnt be Gatiss because he is simply a bad writer (in my opinion!). Sorry if I upset anyone.

KingOfTheInterWebs has Kidneys
KingOfTheInterWebs has Kidneys

@FMOB11 @parrot999 I personally felt it was very Moffatesque. It on the surface seemed a bit RTD like in some places but it was definitely and quite clearly Moffat I feel. Series 6 and 7 didn't feel as Moffatesque, I always felt he was good at a perfect balance of quirky and morbid and all the bits inbetween hence series 5 seeming fairytale like. I enjoyed series 6 and 7 a lot as well but they didn't feel as Moffatesque as series 5. 

DalekSupreme1
DalekSupreme1

@Moxx  Oh yeah, sorry, missed the 'a'! I can see why you put MacRae where you did on the probability balance, I just personally quite like his stuff. Actually thinking about it, I'm a bit surprised you didn't mention Steven Thompson as well (not that I'd think he should be the next showrunner, but just that he seems like he's here to stay as far as writing goes :)

DalekSupreme1
DalekSupreme1

@VortexDan @flyingcatman7131  Seriously??? OK Clara was a plotpoint for series 7B - but not because she was a woman, but because she was a COMPANION!!!! Rory was pretty much just a plotpoint in series five, does that mean that he was the victim of sexist scripting? No! It means Moffat decided to write a companion that didn't just decide to travel with the Doctor for no reason, but instead to keep an eye on his feyoncé. Moffat likes to experiment with ideas and come out with new situations for Doctor Who. He's. Not. Sexist.

Galactic Yo Yo
Galactic Yo Yo

@KingOfTheInterWebs has Kidneys @FMOB11 @parrot999  I always thought that series 6 was the most Moffat-y of them all. It's certainly the twistiest and most-plot heavy series. It's also the one most dominated by his own creations (River and the Silence), while simultaneously being the only series that doesn't reintroduce a Classic monster into the new series.