Fans have been expecting news regarding the future of Doctor Who for a while. After months of rumours it was announced that current star Jodie Whittaker and current show-runner Chris Chibnall would both be departing after the current series and three 2022 specials… but that left the question of who the next incarnation of the Doctor would be and who would be guiding their adventures.
There’s no news on who will be occupying the Tardis after 2022, but we now know who will be at the helm… and it’s the most obvious and unlikely name: Russell T Davies. Yes, the man who brought back the character and the series in 2005 will be re-boarding the show beginning with the sixtieth anniversary in 2023. The news, formally announced today, took fans by surprise. Many names had been offered amid speculation, but few people thought that Davies would be enticed to return, twelve years after his departure, despite his continued love for the show.
“I’m beyond excited to be back on my favourite show,” said Davies. “There’s a whole series of Jodie Whittaker’s brilliant Doctor for me to enjoy, with my friend and hero Chris Chibnall at the helm. I’m still a viewer for now.”
“Russell built the baton that is about to be handed back to him,” Chibnall said in a statement.
Davies’ era was not without its flourishes and themes that sometimes divided fans, but he’s largely regarded as the person responsible for making ‘Nu-Who’ the success it became. Whatever your views, Chibnall’s era has been largely considered far more controversial. So many changes occurred in tone and mythology during his tenure (to date) that a section of fans began to feel disenfranchised. The logo, the date of broadcast, the theme-music, the supporting cast, the set and the stories immediately had a different tone. Some – a small but loud number – bemoaned the Doctor being female for the first time (rather overlooking the idea that the character is a shape-changing alien who has been short, tall, blonde, brown-haired, old and young in no particular order) but their complaint was largely a fringe gripe. Rather more people had problems with the stories being geared towards a younger audience with more overt messaging and some vast changes to the mythology (the Doctor has had far more than the known incarnations, is actually from another universe and was once a shadowy operative for a rather iffy cosmic organisation). Viewing figures certainly went down to a noticeable degree, but that could also be blamed on viewing habits changing with the sudden burst of cable, streaming and more channels.
Davies previous work to date has included Second Coming, Casanova, It’s a Sin, Years and Years, A Very British Scandal and Doctor Who spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
His return – which will also see BBC Studios working with Davies’ previous partners on the show, Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner and their successful ‘Bad Wolf‘ productions (named after the Doctor Who episode of the same moniker) is likely to signal another shift in the show, but it’s far too early to tell what tweaks and changes he’ll make for the sixtieth anniversary (which he will write), or whom he will decide to cast for the main role going forward – a performer whose earliest appearance will be over a year from now at the end of the Whittaker/Chibnall era, or possibly even into 2023.
However, it will be a highly experienced team tracing the Doctor’s new adventures – definitely something the BBC will want… and which should reassure many that they’ll at least hit the ground running…