Keith Topping and other Doctor Who fans get to puff their chests out this week. They correctly predicted that current Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat would be leaving after the end of the tenth season. More importantly, they correctly predicted that his replacement would be Chris Chibnall.
I have mixed feelings about this. While I remain a big fan of Doctor Who and have generally enjoyed Steven Moffat’s run as showrunner, I do agree that it’s time for him to move on. In general, I think the adage of “always leave them wanting more” applies. I also think that Moffat has, in general, done a good job. Sure, there have been miscues and missed opportunities, but what show doesn’t have these, especially one with a 53-year history behind it?
Besides, as I said eight years ago when news of Russell T. Davies’ departure and Moffat’s arrival broke, it would have been a mistake to assume that the writer of some of the best Doctor Who ever (The Empty Child, The Girl in the Fireplace, Blink, Silence in the Library) would match that quality with every episode he produced. Writing one or two episodes in a season is an entirely different kettle of fish to writing and overseeing thirteen, plus a Christmas special.
And, as producer, he’s given us some truly memorable stuff. He cast Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi in the roles. He wrote The Day of the Doctor and resolved the Time War arc in ways that we didn’t expect but joyously delighted in. Sometimes his companions — especially the female ones — were less characters in their own right but mysteries to be explored, but we had good acting, good stories, good scripts, and ratings remain in realms that fans of the original television series would never have dreamed possible.
I look forward to watching Moffat’s final season of Doctor Who, but I’m glad that it is his final season, and I wish him all the best on his new projects.
I will confess to being a bit nervous at having Chris Chibnall being named Moffat’s successor. Unlike Davies and Moffat, his record when it comes to writing for the series has been mixed. he gave us the decent 42 and Torchwood’s laughable Cyberwoman. I’ve felt that his tone in his stories has been slightly out-of-place in the series he wrote for.
But I am willing to give him a chance. After all, remember when I said that producing a series is an entirely different kettle of fish compared to writing one or two episodes within it. Chibnall has proven his production chops by overseeing series like Broadchurch. Perhaps he will know a way to shake things up a little on Doctor Who. Maybe he’ll hire some great new writers, and step back a little, to let them do their thing.
Time, as always, will tell.