In pretty-sure-I’m-asleep-and-still-dreaming news, the BBC woke up today and chose to ring the TARDIS Cloister Bell, signalling the return of Russell T Davies to his showrunner duties on Doctor Who for the show’s upcoming 60th anniversary… and beyond.
Davies was responsible for reviving Doctor Who in 2005 after a sixteen year hiatus, and served as showrunner up through David Tennant’s run all the way to 2010. While certain aspects of his tenure have aged less-than-sunnily, Davies was renowned for the sense of play and camp he brought to Whovian adventures, and for his ability to infuse everything he touched with the highest levels of drama and emotion. (The Doctor and Rose, on opposite sides of the same wall, in different universes, trapped forever, it’s fine, we’re fine, we’ve all totally recovered from that, it’s been fifteen years, you know?)
Following Davies’s departure, Steven Moffat took over showrunning duties, then to be followed by the current showrunner Chris Chibnall in 2018. With Chibnall and Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker on their way out, the show needed someone new in the driver’s seat, and it looks like the BBC wants some of that old fizzle back that only Davies can provide.
According to The Hollwood Reporter, Davies comes back with his old producing team of Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner, and there’s now word on how Whittaker’s final specials will air in 2022:
Chibnall and Whittaker revealed in July that they would leave Doctor Who after three seasons following a trio of specials, culminating in what the BBC is describing as an “epic blockbuster special” that will air in Fall 2022 as part of the broadcaster’s centenary celebrations.
The real questions now turn on who Davies will bring to the TARDIS as the new Doctor. Fingers crossed that they keep a woman in the lead following Whittaker’s turn, and that they finally cast a person of color in the role for more than a couple of episodes—Jo Martin was spectacular last season, but we didn’t get nearly enough of her. Whoopi Goldberg recently said that she’s wanted the role for ages, so, you know, if Davies really wanted to make my decade…
It will be fascinating to see what Davies brings to the table twelve years on, which of his sensibilities have shifted and which ones have stayed the same. Doctor Who has a lot more resources to pull on now than it did when he was last in charge, which means he can really go all-out on season arcs, set pieces, and special effects. For my part, if there’s camp, ridiculous aliens, and a lot of queer confusion, I’ll be one happy Whovian.