Yesterday Doctor Who fans were rocked by the news that showrunner Steven Moffat is departing the show after six series in charge, with former Doctor Who writer and Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall set to take his place.
Bringing with him a wealth of showrunner experience and genuine fanboy credentials, Chibnall is a smart choice; coming as he does off the back of Broadchurch, his biggest success to date. Featuring nearly every actor to have appeared in Doctor Who, the hit ITV drama isn’t the only experience he has of being in charge of a big TV project.
He was previously involved as the de facto showrunner for Russell T Davies Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, which he ran for two series and, crucially for Doctor Who, penned finales for both series and the series 2 opener.
Along with Doctor Who – Chibnall penned 42, The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and The Power of Three – his time wrangling Captain Jack has given him experience of managing various tones and settings; a must for anyone looking to shape the world the Doctor inhabits.
If we were looking for themes to build a series upon, family and domesticity play an important part in most of Chibnall’s episodes – it was Chibnall who introduced Brian, Rory’s father, and took him on an adventure with the Doctor – along with a focus on celebrity historical guest stars like Egyptian Queen Nefertiti in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.
Could this attention towards family and domesticity mean we’re heading back to Russell T Davies era home-life? And, what with the Torchwood connection, will this all be tempered with a darker, watershed baiting edge that’s become familiar under Moffat?
Outside the Doctor Who connection, he also served as a showrunner on ITV crime drama Law and Order: UK, Arthurian drama Camelot for Channel 4; was a producer or writer for BBC 1’s Born and Bred, helped develop Merlin and was the only guest writer to work on both series of Life on Mars.
Then there’s the acclaimed one-off dramas including The Great Train Robbery and United – about the Manchester United Munich air disaster staring the Tenth Doctor himself David Tennant (it’s great, a personal favourite of mine)
And, let’s face it, if nothing else comes from all this experience, Broadchurch has taught him to be discreet.
Without wanted to draw too many conclusions from his past, whatever happens in the future, Chibnall will almost certainly give us something unexpected, something familiar and hopefully, something that builds on past successes.
So what do you think of Chibnall’s appointment? What changes do you want to see under his tenure? What don’t you want to see? What’s your favourite Chibnall episode/drama?