Who will be Moffat’s Successor?

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Guest contributor David Selby takes a look at the candidates who might take over Doctor Who once Steven Moffat leaves.

One day, Steven Moffat is going to depart Doctor Who as the showrunner and lead writer. So who will be his successor? It’s a popular question stirring among fans. I have narrowed the list down to what I consider the six most likely candidates.

Why did Moffat get the job?

First, what you have to look at is how Moffat got the job in the first place. I believe there are three main reasons:

The first is the quantity of episodes. By the time Moffat took over, he had written two two-parters (2005’s The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances and 2008’s Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead), two single-parters (2006’s The Girl in the Fireplace and 2007’s Blink) and one mini episode (2007’s Time Crash).

The second (and arguably biggest) reason is the quality and critical response those episodes received. All of the above were generally loved by fans and praised by critics. Not to mention, they scooped up a number of prestigious awards.

The final reason is the variety of Moffat’s episodes. He had written stories in the past, present and future; on spaceships, on earth, on alien planets. He wrote romance, horror and pure sci-fi; he wrote single-parters and two-parters and even Doctor-lite stories. So when he was chosen by Russell T.Davies, he had covered a wide range of genres within the boundaries of Who.

So, now it’s time to look at our candidates…

Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss possibly seems the most likely option. He has written several episodes since the series was revived (2005’s The Unquiet Dead, 2006’s The Idiot’s Lantern, 2010’s Victory of the Daleks and 2011’s Night Terrors), however the majority of these have been set in the past and he hasn’t yet written any future episodes.

Unlike Moffat though, Gatiss’ episodes haven’t been too popular. The Unquiet Dead and The Idiot’s Lantern received a mixed response from fans and neither story won any awards. Victory of the Daleks was one of the most unpopular Dalek episodes to date, mostly due to the redesigned Daleks which have been hugely criticised. Night Terrors seems to have been largely ‘ignored’ by fans, and was ranked second lowest in a recent Doctor Who TV poll.

But on the other hand, Gatiss works with Moffat on BBC’s Sherlock and they are close friends, so it seems likely that he would be someone Moffat would trust to take over the show.

Toby Whithouse

Whithouse spoke at the 2011 Comic-Con Convention about becoming the new showrunner. He stated that he would like to, “take over from the person who takes over from Moffat”. However, this does not completely eliminate him from the running if offered. It is likely he would still be up for it and was just being modest at the time.

Despite this, Whithouse may be too involved in his series Being Human to want to take over. If that show is still going and schedules clashed, he would most likely stay faithful to his own creation.

Whithouse has written a three Doctor Who episodes since the show was revived (2006’s School Reunion, 2010’s The Vampires of Venice and 2011’s The God Complex) and the episodes have been reasonably successful.  School Reunion was popular, due to the revival of former companion Sarah Jane Smith (played by the late Elisabeth Sladen), and his last story, The God Complex was well received by most fans and critics. However, any chance of him taking over may depend on how well he does in the future. He will be writing an episode this year, so that may change our judgement either way.

Tom MacRae

Tom McRae semi-joked about being the next showrunner just recently. MacRae brought back the Cybermen in 2006’s The Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel, a villain which became hugely popular in later series. 2011’s The Girl Who Waited was also a huge success and was one of the most popular episodes of Doctor Who to date. When it comes to originality, MacRae’s definitely got it. All we need to see from him is a few more episodes and variety, especially with some set in the past.

Chris Chibnall

Chris Chibnall seems like another of the more likely candidates. By the end of the year, he will have written five episodes for the show (2007’s 42, 2010’s The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, 2012’s Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (TBC) and Cubed (TBC)). The fact that Moffat has given him two separate episodes in Series 7 shows that he trusts him, but does he trust him enough to be showrunner?

Chibnall’s episodes have all been decent enough quality so far and also very varied. He has made a huge contribution to Torchwood as the main writer for the first two series. He proved his ability as a lead writer in this, so he does seem to have experience and a very good chance of taking over from Moffat.

Gareth Roberts

Roberts has a long history with Doctor Who working on the Virgin novels in the 1990s and beyond. When it comes to the revived series, he written four full episodes: The Shakespeare Code in 2007, The Unicorn and the Wasp in 2008, The Lodger in 2010 and Closing Time in 2011. He also collaborated with Russell T Davies on Planet of the Dead and many stories of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Roberts’ episodes have been fairly varied, and his two most recent featuring Craig Owens (James Corden) were well received by most fans. Another potential.

Neil Gaiman

An outside chance. Despite the fact Gaiman has only written one episode for the revived series, The Doctor’s Wife has received near constant praise from fans, viewers and TV critics. Neil Gaiman is also a hugely popular sci-fi writer and carries many important traits. It is likely that he would be very capable of holding a complex plot together and tying up loose ends. His books have also been very popular. However, the biggest problem is the fact Gaiman has a busy schedule and currently lives in the United States.


So, after looking at all the candidates I would say the most likely contender is either Chris Chibnall or Mark Gatiss. Either way, it doesn’t look like Moffat has any plans on leaving yet, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens!

In the meantime, who would you like to see eventually take over?