Russell T. Davies has formally announced that he will be stepping down as producer of the new Doctor Who once production finishes on the 2009 specials. (Hat tip to One Old Green Bus)
Doctor Who fans have been wondering when this will happen, and have been anticipating this news with a bit of dread. After all, it was Russell who single-handedly pulled the show back from the grave, gave it new life, and made it cool, not just in the United Kingdom, but in North America as well. He leaves the program at the height of its game, with ratings high, and David Tennant firmly ensconced in the popular imagination of the people of Britain.
Although, I think if most fans were honest with themselves, they’d have been wondering when Russell would move on to his next big project. He has been at the helm for four years, and will cover the show for one more. He has had a devil of a time trying to top himself again and again, and some of the strain of this is starting to show in some tone-deaf storytelling, with more Messianic images than you can shake a cross at. Perhaps it is time for somebody else to take over, bring in some fresh ideas, shake up the show again, and give it another of those periodic burst of new creative juices that allowed the original program to thrive for an unprecedented twenty-six seasons.
But there’s the rub. Although we give credit to Russell for knowing when to move on, who could fill Russell’s shoes? Who?
The fifth series, with Moffat at the helm, is scheduled to be broadcast on BBC One in Spring 2010.
Moffat has already written some of the most memorable Doctor Who episodes of recent times, including The Girl in the Fireplace and The Empty Child.
Earlier this month, he picked up the best writer Bafta for the Blink episode of series three which featured terrifying weeping angels.
Moffat said: “I applied before but I got knocked back ‘cos the BBC wanted someone else. Also I was seven.
“Anyway, I’m glad the BBC has finally seen the light and it’s a huge honour to be following Russell into the best - and the toughest - job in television.
Moffat is a brilliant writer, but he is also an experienced showrunner in his own right, having managed such programs as Coupling and Joking Apart, not to mention such mini-series as Jekyll. In many fans’ eyes, Moffat was seen as Russell’s dream replacement, and it looks like a dream has come true.
Fans are now left to speculate whether David Tennant will carry on as the Doctor, or if he will depart at the end of the 2009 specials along with Davies, giving Moffat a completely clean slate on which to sketch his vision of the program.
Saying thank you to Russell Davies doesn’t even begin to cover the gratitude millions of Doctor Who fans have for these past four seasons. His achievement is simply remarkable. The program will always be remembered as a highlight of his career, and Davies will always be remembered as a highlight of the program’s history.
But in the end, it’s all I can say. Thank you, Russell. And good job!