Contemplating Moffat’s Successor
Guest contributor Connor Hamilton shares his candidates for the future showrunner.
Steven Moffat has been Head Writer of Doctor Who since Matt Smith’s debut on the show in 2010, and while Moffat has brought us two incredibly well cast Doctors, some brilliant companions like Amy, Rory and Clara, and some fantastic story arcs like the cracks in time, River Song and Gallifrey, it’s sadly looking likely (according to rumours) that his time is drawing to a close. However with one door closing, another must open. In this article I want to take a look at some possible successors to Steven Moffat, and explaining why I feel their previous work on and off of the show leads me to suspect they’d be a good Head Writer.
The Un-Official Next Head Writer
Mark Gatiss is quite possibly one of the best writers on the show. Along with the other writers on this list he’s penned some of my favourite episodes to this day and despite only writing 7 episodes over the past 10 years, not including his Series 9 episode, he holds third place with the most aired stories since 2005’s return, with the first and second places going to RTD and Moffat. In my books that almost makes him the unofficial next head writer, and quite possibly the most likely candidate to be Moffat’s successor, as he has experience with writing for the show, having done it over half a dozen times.
Taking a look back into Mark’s previous work on the show though, I find his work is viewed as very hit and miss. I for one adore some of his episodes, for example ‘Cold War’ and ‘The Unquiet Dead’, however one or two of his stories have in the past been labelled by many as some of the worst episodes, one being his more recent ‘Robot Of Sherwood’, a story which I personally enjoyed, but I did find slightly tedious compared to the rest of the series. Gatiss’s hit and miss writing causes a debate on whether he is the right choice to take over, with some people saying he should, and others begging he sticks to casual writing instead of taking on the lead position. I personally would not be bothered either way, however Gatiss’s preferences to stories set in the past could mean he may not feel up to taking on the job, as it may mean he has to explore other time periods he perhaps isn’t comfortable writing about.
The Heavily Rumoured Candidate
Toby Whithouse is one of the most rumoured candidates to take up the role of Head Writer. However when asked about the job recently, he claimed it had not been discussed with him. But in the same interview he also discussed his love for writing for the show and how he’ll always come back to write. Toby has had the chance to write for three Doctors now and has had some successful and unsuccessful stories. One great story being the return of Sarah Jane in ‘School Reunion’ and some of his lesser appreciated work being ‘A Town Called Mercy’, a story which despite my love for Whithouse’s work, was a huge disappointment.
Toby’s work outside of Doctor Who is just as successful, with one of his most popular pieces of work on ‘Being Human’, which he created and ran for five years, and personally I found to be one of the best pieces of television I’ve watched besides Doctor Who. Toby’s excitement towards the show and his fan-like approach to writing, as well as his showrunning experience with other shows (including The Game) and other episodes are all major reasons why I personally hope he is offered the job. However if the role was not given to Toby, I’d still hope the magic of Doctor Who entices him for years to come, as his writing is phenomenal and I can’t wait to see what he’s got in store for us next, especially since his two-parter in Series 9 is my most anticipated.
The New Kid On The Block
Jamie Mathieson’s previous two episodes were two of the most popular of Series 8, and to some people, he already should get the offer, without even seeing what he’s got in store for us in Series 9. Rather a bold claim in my opinion. However I do like the man and I’m hoping his stories, like Toby’s, keep on coming. Whether I’d be happy with him being Head Writer all really depends on his Series 9 episode, as for all we know, his two episodes were just a stroke of luck and his following stories could be a flop. However I doubt this is likely.
Flatline and Mummy on the Orient Express were two incredible stories and two of my favourite Capaldi episodes to date, and while Jamie is responsible for such fantastic episodes, I’m wondering if his co-written story with Moffat will benefit from sharing the position of writing. If this is the case then perhaps, due to Jamie being ever so new to writing for Doctor Who, for the time being he should either wait and stick around as a possibility for a future Head Writer or he could be offered the role as a coalition with another writer. The question of who that other writer should be depends entirely upon the BBC, however Mathieson and Whithouse for me would be the perfect writing team. Jamie stunned us all in just his first two aired episodes, and like my next candidate, perhaps two episodes is all you need to win over an audience like us, especially if the episodes were as perfect as his were.
The Writer That Time Forgot
Neil is, to me, is now one of the most underrated writers of Doctor Who. Most likely for the sheer fact that he’s only ever written two episodes of the show. To me, those two episodes are actually two of my favourite ever on the show. It may be shocking to many but I genuinely enjoyed Nightmare In Silver and the theme of the episode. I also loved The Doctor’s Wife and felt that House was such an incredible villain, one that Neil should definitely be proud of creating. Here’s hoping if he was offered the role, that many incredible villains just like House will come from his time on the show.
I’m hugely saddened he wasn’t given a slot for an episode in Series 9, but I’m hopeful that despite his experience on the show merely being two episodes, he is shortlisted for the job. My love for Neil comes from the fact that he may lack episodes, but he has a wide range of experience in writing stories outside the Whoniverse, with one of my favourite books ever (The Graveyard Book) being written by the man himself. Neil is a great possibility for a coalition writing team however he’d also be good for the job as an individual, I’d love to see more of Neil one way or another, and if that way is as a Head Writer, then you definitely won’t hear me complaining.
These are just a few writers I feel really fit the bill for the inevitable position of the new Head Writer. However I’m still in no hurry to see Moffat leave. If a year of specials or Series 10 is Moffat’s swan song stories then I’ll be most thankful for all the writing we’ve received from him so far, and I’ll look forward to the future of the show in hope that at least one of the people listed in this article are shortlisted for the job. Let me know down in the comments who you most want to see take on the job, and whether you’d be open for the possibility of a coalition writing team?