Fri
Feb 8 2013 11:00am

Could the Next Doctor Who Showrunner Already Be Chosen?

Could the Next Doctor Who Showrunner Already Be Chosen?

There are a lot of big bangs (if you’ll beg my pardon) coming up in the Whoniverse lately to keep fans excited. We’ve got a brand new companion, the Doctor’s wearing waistcoats now, and the 50th anniversary special is coming. Still, as each year comes and goes, we’re forced to keep track of our leading man and our showrunner—we’ve had the team of Moffat and Smith since 2010, which begs the question of when the inevitable change-up is coming. It’s probably not too far off now.

No announcements have been made, so of course it’s too early to properly speculate on anything. But a bit of news grabbed my attention, and I couldn’t help but wonder….

Fans of BBC’s Being Human series have probably already heard: the current season will be the show’s last. It’s disheartening, especially after the show’s impressive comeback in the last season. But it seems an interesting bit of timing when we consider this—

Toby Whithouse is no longer running a BBC show.

For those who may not be familiar, Toby Whithouse has written episodes for Doctor Who’s second, fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons. And his scripts have been consistently lovely; “School Reunion” brought back Sarah Jane Smith with all reverence due to her, “Vampires of Venice” was sheer fun, and “The God Complex” and “A Town Called Mercy” had some incredible emotional weight to them. He may not have shocked and awed the audience the way Moffat did back during Davies’ tenure, but he is incredibly good. What’s more, he excels at the sort of writing that Doctor Who demands—he’s fantastic with comedy, with meticulous character development, with outrageous plots and scary monsters.

And unlike many of the current writers on Doctor Who, he just helmed a successful BBC series.

Being Human is a wonderful blend of horror, drama and absurdity. It also went through a massive shift at the end of its third season, when two of its main cast members decided to leave the show—Being Human not only recovered from the blow but managed to do a soft reboot with a new cast, which can’t help but remind us of exactly what’s it’s like handling a regenerating main character with friends who come and go. While heading that show, Whithouse proved he was a master at meshing the real-life subtleties with the extraordinary, which is particularly important where Who is concerned. His writing staff for Being Human included more than a few female screenwriters, which he would hopefully bring along with him. In short, he’s a logical candidate for succession when Moffat decides he wants out.

If this isn’t already being considered, Whithouse surely has my vote. I would love to see what he’d bring to Who as a showrunner. There must be other picks out there—share them! (Howard Overman, anyone?)


Emily Asher-Perrin will be over here, looking very sad about Being Human’s end date. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

13 comments
Lisa Grabenstetter
1. magneticcrow
This wouldn't sadden me. Moffat's terrific at stand-alone or two-part episodes, but his season-long story arcs are extremely weak. Though I wasn't personally a huge fan of where Being Human went from season 4 and forward, Whithouse still generally shows a lot of strength in that area.
Dr. Cox
2. Dr. Cox
I remember Toby Whithouse from his acting work on
"The House of Elliott."
He'd do well as showrunner for "Doctor Who," but why need we lose
Matt Smith just because of a change of showrunner?
Christopher Bennett
3. ChristopherLBennett
I'm generally skeptical of such advance speculation, but then, people were equally convinced that Moffat was the inevitable heir apparent to Russell T. Davies, and they were right. Of course that doesn't guarantee it will happen again, but it makes these speculations plausible.

@2: Historically, a change in producers hasn't usually aligned with a change in Doctors. The First Doctor went through three different producers: Verity Lambert, John Wiles, and Innes Lloyd. The Second Doctor had essentially two, Lloyd and Peter Bryant. Derrick Sherwin produced the final Second Doctor serial and the first Third Doctor serial, essentially an interim producer overseeing the transition to a new Doctor and a new era (filmed in color and confined to Earth). The Third Doctor's tenure aligned almost entirely with Barry Letts's tenure as producer (Letts began with his second serial and concluded with the Fourth Doctor's debut serial). The Fourth Doctor had three main producers, Philip Hinchcliffe, Graham Williams, and John Nathan-Turner; and JNT stayed on as producer throughout the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Doctors' tenures.
Erik Harrison
4. ErikHarrison
I always assumed that Mark Gatiss was being groomed for the role - he's been involved in nearly every season of the new show, his relationship with Moffat is similar to Moffat's relationship with Davies, and he was one of the writers who made a proposal for a new series at the same time Davies did. He's written officially licensed books, audio dramas, and (like the Moff) an infamous Doctor Who spoof. Plus he's the cocreator of Sherlock which makes him kinda Hot Shit.

"The Unquiet Dead" was what sold me on the return of the show, though none of his episodes have hit me as hard. Still if we're speculating (wildly!) about what will happen...
Dr. Cox
5. DN10
I think you're right about the imminent change-up. In fact, I think Eleven's regeneration is likely to happen at the end of the fiftieth. Remember Dorium's speech at the end of WoRS? "At the Fields of Trenzalore, on the Fall of the Eleventh, a question will be asked." So yeah, I think the fiftieth is going to be about all of the Doctors trying to prevent his real identity from being revealed on the Fields lf Trenzalore. And that Eleven is going to die at the end of it.

I don't think Whithouse is being groomed to be the next show runner, though. I think it's split between Chibnall and Gatiss. Look at this season's structure--two eps by each in each half of the season. It's like a trial run to see which does better. Personally, I hope Chibnall wins, since I've hated all of Gatiss' recent episodes. Night Terrors is probably my all-time least favorite DW ep. Although I'd prefer Whithouse to either of them. Love Being Human! Maybe now that it's officially ending, Whithouse will be considered too!
Dr. Cox
6. ChrisG
I have it on good authority that J.J. Abrams will be taking over.

Resistance is futile. You don't know the power....
Dr. Cox
7. Gemini71
I would like Tom McRae to take over as the showrunner and head writer, but only if Toby Whitehouse wasn't interested (he probably would be, though). If I were the showrunner (which I'm unlikely ever to be), I would start afresh like Barry Letts did with Pertwee and Steven Moffatt did with Smith, and would cast Robert Webb as the Twelfth Doctor. As for the companion, I would go for an actress from the Manchester area: my three choices being Rachel Shenton, Katie McGlynn and Ciara Baxendale.
alastair chadwin
8. a-j
Whitehouse does have another series as showrunner, as I understand it, a '70s based spy series called The Game.
Whoever (see what I did there) is running Dr Who, I just want them or the BBC to stop splitting the series into two. I dislike this intensely.
Dr. Cox
9. jonathan inge
Mark Gatiss, Chris Chibnall, and Toby Whithouse are safe bets.

My list of potential showrunners includes Phil Ford, Howard Overman, Neil Cross, Charlie Brooker, and Jesse Armstrong/Sam Bain.
Dr. Cox
10. Not Luke
Oh, yes please! I am hoping for Whithouse since A Town Called Mercy rather unexpectedly turned out to be the best instalment of 2012. It's only then that I realised he'd had an excellent track record. I confess I found Vampires in Venice poor, but all the rest were fantastic indeed. That's three out of four, which easily makes him, to me, the most consistent multi-episode author since relaunch, and beaten only by Moffatt in his pre-showrunning days.

Failing that, I propose Rob Shearman. (A week ago I would deem it unbelievable, seeing how he had cut any ties with the TV show, but since then, out of the left field, Moffatt name-checked two of his audio dramas among his favourite DW stories in the official Doctor Who Magazine. Makes you wonder...)

Chibnall? No. Just no.

But laying aside personal preference, as other commenters pointed out, it's hard to imagine Gatiss is not the one with the "right of first refusal" at the moment. And I'd feel pretty ambivalent if he was announced as a new chief. I really, really dislike his Who work, but rather enjoyed what little of his other projects I've seen and heard so far. Perhaps he'd be okay as long as he stays an overseer who lets other people hand in the screenplays (which actually was the norm for the script editor in the show's past)?

But yeah, Whithouse would be my top choice of the realistic ones.

(The non-realistic ones being Marc Platt, Neil Gaiman and Chistopher Nolan.)
Dr. Cox
11. Roserje
The minute A Town Called Mercy finished, I turned to my sister and said "Toby Whithouse, next showrunner?"

She agreed.

He's written some of the most consistent and morally interesting episodes of Doctor Who, to my mind, and he has a proven ability to be able to run a show. Greeks Bearing Gifts is one of my favourite Torchwood episodes, as well.

I don't want the Moff to leave just yet, but when he does, Toby Whithouse would be a great replacement.
Dr. Cox
12. Jarrrp
After, in my opinion, Moffat's poor run on Doctor Who; I would very much like to see Toby Whitehouse become the next Doctor Who show runner. He has proven so many times with Being Human that he is a capable writer when it comes to this format of drama. He's written so many brilliant episodes for Doctor Who which prove even more of his worthiness of a Moffat replacement. Can't wait for the 50th anniversary special and a WHO reboot! (Although I'm not sure on how pleased I am that a writer as poor, in my opinion, as Moffat should be allowed to write such an iconic piece of drama as the Doctor Who 50th anniversary.)
Dr. Cox
13. neroden
Can we please keep Matt Smith across a producer change?

The First, Second, and Fourth Doctors all benefit massively from having had multiple producers with different styles. Sadly, this opportunity has been denied to subsquent actors.

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