Doctor Who News Doctor Who chief writer Steven Moffat

Published on July 8th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

If Steven Moffat Leaves, Who Should Replace Him?

Doctor Who head honcho Steven has been running the series since the first Matt Smith episodes went into production 2009. That’s four years at the top – and that doesn’t count his previous four years as the brains behind some of the most popular stories of the revived show.

The Empty Child, Blink, The Girl in the Fireplace and Silence in the Library must have all been massive efforts to put together, never mind things like The Eleventh Hour, The Pandorica Opens, A Christmas Carol and other immensely timey-wimey adventures. Put simply, The Moff must be getting tired, and with his leading man on the way out of the door in November/December, there is surely a good chance that he too might move on.

But if Steven Moffat does decide to leave Doctor Who, what happens next? Who should take over as executive producer? To be honest, we can’t settle on a unanimous choice here at Kasterborous Towers, so thought that our esteemed readers might like to help out…

Voting concludes on Sunday, so get your votes and comments in and we’ll revisit them next week!

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About the Author

A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




38 Responses to If Steven Moffat Leaves, Who Should Replace Him?

  1. rickjlundeen says:

    I doubt Phillip and Russell would be inclined to jump in again at this level and I don’t have much faith in the rest of the list. I have no idea who’d be good. The Moff was the best and obvious choice from the last regime to take over but we really don’t have his equivalent in the current regime. That writer who always comes in and knocks a home run/best story in a season type writer.

  2. Sarah Puxley says:

    Mark Gatiss! He’s done a great job writing for both Doctor Who and Sherlock, and the creepiness of some of his work could easily assist with the ushering in of a potentially darker Doctor. Plus, he’s got a great sense of humour.

    • lewis seymour says:

      Gatiss is up to his eyes at the moment with an MR James drama and documentary, both of which he is writing/producing and presenting in the latter case. Unlikely he’d be taking over DW for season 8 as it’s already in the planning stages and is likely to be going into pre-production around August (starting with the Xmas special). Maybe season 9?

      • Sarah Puxley says:

        I’d be willing to wait for Gatiss as showrunner. IMAGINE the possibility.

        • Johnny 'Quiz says:

          He’s is definitely in the Creme Brulee of choices, though I would like a trip to Royston Vassey for the doctor if he does…

    • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

      I’m split about Gatiss. The Unquiet Dead and The Crimson Horror = Classics. The Idiot’s Lantern and Victory Of The Daleks = Travesties! He could go either way as show runner.

  3. joesiegler says:

    Neil Gaiman.

    • Bob James says:

      Not going to happen joesiegler. Gaiman has the imagination and the talent as a writer, but he doesn’t have the experience or know how to be a showrunner. He would also have to put his writing career on the shelf to a great extent, and I don’t think he would be in favor of doing that. He definitely needs to be kept in the creative circle though. It would be nice if he could make the time to do a least one or two stories a series. He can contribute to filling a void left by folks like Paul Cornell and Rob Shearman disappearing. He knows Doctor Who well enough to keep moving it forward while keeping it true to itself.

    • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

      Yes, The Doctor’s Wife was immense but look at the mess that is Nightmare In Silver! Forgetting the fact that he definitely wouldn’t take on the role of show runner, he’d have a hell of a lot to prove before he ever hypothetically did.


  4. Neil Gaiman of course, even if he’s already busy with other projects.
    His fairy tale-like writing is pure bliss.
    In alternative, Gatiss would be a good fit.


  5. It won’t happen, but I’d love to see Howard Overman get a chance on Doctor Who, I think he did great work with Misfits & Dirk Gently so he’s definitely got the chops to ‘run’ a show. I’m surprised he hasn’t been asked to at least write an episode.

    • iank says:

      I second this. Smartest comment so far.


  6. I’m for Neil Gaiman as well, if they could swing it. Please, no more RTD. Bring back Tennant in a regression, die off Rose, make Clara an incarnation of River Song – maybe her body regenerated with no memories after her data was placed in the library. And that’s all I have to say about that…

  7. Jim says:

    Nick Briggs. Whoever it is, they should be 100% focused on the Whoniverse.

    • Mark Lenton says:

      Sorry Jim but it won’t be. We should limit our discussions here to writers who have a proven TV record and have showrun another series previously. Briggs has no experience that the BBC will value – as much as the fanboys might like his big finish stuff

      • Bob James says:

        I would like to see Nicholas Briggs write for the television series though. That shouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility.

  8. NickKrit says:

    John Lloyd – Current producer of “QI” with Stephen Fry and Alan Davies; former producer of “Blackadder”, “Spitting Image”, “Not the Nine O’clock News” and “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

  9. Philip Bates says:

    Neil Cross. He did wonders with Spooks, Luther is incredible, and even though his Doctor Who eps have divided many, they do show diversity and an understanding and love of the show. What’s more, he’s a bloody good writer.

    However, I don’t want Moffat to leave any time soon. :)

  10. Johnny 'Quiz says:

    Just promise me they won’t let JJ Abrams anywhere near it

  11. rickjlundeen says:

    Gatiss runs hot and cold at best with his scripts though. If he does a Victorian London episode, Unquiet Dead or Crimson Horror, he does a great job. the rest? Eh. Idiot’s Lantern? Victory of the Daleks? Night Terrors? I wouldn’t feel good with him charge of all the scripts. Gaiman’s batting .500 at best.

  12. Neu 75 says:

    Toby Whithouse or Joe Aherne…

  13. Chris says:

    Definitely Philip Hinchcliffe although I doubt he’d do it. But hey I can dream can’t I?
    Realistically speaking, Mark Gatiss. Personally I think Gatiss who work best as showrunner than head writer. Although who knows, his scripts might actually be better without Moffat around.
    I think the most important to do when Moffat eventually leaves is that the roles of showrunner, head writer and script editor should be separate like it was in the Classic era. I really think a problem that was present in the RTD era and in the Moffat era is that because both men had the top three jobs in the creative department there wasn’t anyone in power to keep them in check. Therefore RTD or Moff can edit anyone’s script while not letting anyone else check their own scripts. It’s waaay too much power. There needs to be checks and balances.

  14. Lara Harris says:

    I’d love for RTD to come back, but he won’t and has said repeatedly that he won’t. Hell Moffat can’t even get him to write a single episode for him. He’s invited him back to write every season since he took over and he’s refused. I think we just have to accept the man knows how to leave while on top.

  15. Geoff says:

    I hope Mr Moffat stays on for a while yet but I think he’s struggled a bit in the last couple of years. Maybe if he casts a powerful (as in status) actor as the next Doctor with big ideas of his own it will help cement the new direction for the show, a bit like RTD and Chris Eccleston who used his position as an actor to really stamp a feel to the show (although personally I find his portrayal a bit too gritty). I know Matt has really made it his own but when he started out he obviously couldn’t command the direction of the show in a way like Chris probably did. Assuming the relationship is healthy I think it could help the producer out.

    I voted for Toby Whitehouse. I look at Being Human and I see a blend of real life and fantasy similar in style to RTD but not the same. Obviously Doctor Who is a different show but I think he’d bring some of that real-ness back. I’ve really enjoyed the more fantastical almost fairy tale feel to the last few years as a contrast to the RTD era but I think the show is due a change, maybe Mr Moffat will make the changes though. I wouldn’t underestimate him and he’s hardly short on ideas and ambition.

    I wouldn’t be keen on Mark Gatiss. I’ve been very surprised by his contributions because I really like him and respect his credentials. I also really enjoyed his history of horror series even though I don’t like the genre much because he was so infectious and likeable. However his Who writing just hasn’t struck a chord with me.

  16. Matt Smith says:

    I think Nicholas Briggs would be the perfect show-runner for the series and it’s a shame he’s relegated into a ‘recurring voice artist’ for the monsters on the show. As an executive producer at Big Finish he has that level of experience, and he’s an incredibly competent writer, especially as audio is a more challenging medium to write for. ‘Creatures of Beauty’ is magnificent, and his work for the Eighth Doctor Adventures is perfect. He really is a jack of all trades.

    Other favourites would be other notable successful writers such as:

    Robert Shearman who has wrote some incredible stories such as ‘Dalek’ but also the wonderful Jubilee which it was inspired from etc.

    Marc Platt who influenced Tom McRae with the incredible ‘Spare Parts’ & I still think Ghost Light is brilliant.

  17. Ian Gettings says:

    Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, Joe Ahearne, .. etc ;)


  18. Kit Marlowe

  19. STLShawn says:

    Richard Ayoade

  20. TonyS says:

    Paul Cornell

  21. Caity says:

    Mark Gatiss. I know that there have been a few rough stories from him (The Idiot’s Lantern) but there have also been some great stories (The Unquiet Dead to name but one). Moffat had a better reputation coming in, but he has certainly delivered some howlers during his tenure. We need someone au fait with the history of Doctor Who, so they can deliver new stories, but also incorporate enough backstory to please us old series fans.

    • Howard Railton says:

      after ruining the Ice Warriors, never!

  22. Andrew G. Dick says:

    I picked other but couldn’t name anyone, hence my answer being it should be someone who isn’t necessarily a Doctor Who fan but knows how to produce good TV drama. Like Phillip Hinchcliffe, who was a flourishing young TV producer who just knew what worked and created the show from the perspective of the casual viewer.

  23. Joel Mellor says:

    I think the suggestions of Whithouse, Overman and Ahearne (hell yeah!) would be brilliant. I also think Chris Chibnall would be excellent. His stories may divide opinion (I personally have loved all of them), but he can clearly run a show. But now Broadchurch is so huge, it ain’t going to happen. A shame.

  24. STLShawn says:

    I think the new showrunner should be less “writer of most episodes” and more script editor as needed. They should be able to concentrate at least a portion of their time to selling the show to BBC executives as something that needs to be 14 annual episodes. The show makes money, but no episodes, no money. Fandom will waiver (not us hard cores, but the casual fans) as the amount of DW and related programs become rare.

    Sherlock will probably see this with the “worldwide” fans if they only do a few every few years. Treating every episode or small piece of a season as an event is not how to grow a dedicated fan base.


  25. Anyone but Gatiss. Combing through the episodes, he’s shown up consistently as the author behind either barely par episodes or bad episodes. Credit goes to him for writing the two worst Doctor Who episodes (Cold War and Night Terrors). He hasn’t proven to be a reliable or even a good screenwriter for Doctor Who.

    I’d like to see more of Chris Chibnall. He’s done some good work for the show, and while I doubt he’s considered for the job, I’d like to see more episodes written by him. “42″ was an excellent piece.


    • Nothing wrong with Cold War OR Night Terrors.

      The Idiot’s Lantern and Victory of the Daleks are no lookers, but then The Unquiet Dead and The Crimson Horror are great.

      42 was good. The Hungry Earth, on the other hand… dire. Bad acting, hokey storyline, Karen’s worst moment as Amy… knuckle-gnawingly bad.

      You see? Gatiss and Chiball are equally good or bad choices. But don’t be surprised if we see the end of “the showrunner” post Moffat.


      • Cold War was a boring episode that took a big bite out of a whole lot of nothing. Night Terrors had the most obnoxious little kid ever, and while the concept was interesting it had a poor follow-through. And, most of all, both were episodes solved with the power of flipping friendship, an over-used way of skirting around during Matt Smith’s reign that really dissolved a lot of what made his episodes good.

        Good, we agree on 42, and I won’t try to argue for Hungry Earth. I thought it was a decent episode, but decent is all. The Unquiet Dead and The Crimson horror I will disagree on, as I thought they were only decent. The Unquiet Dead (forgive me, it’s been quite a long while since I’ve seen it) just wasn’t a gripping episode, whereas The Crimson Horror had the three alien musketeers in it (an awful by-product of Moffat’s lead), and thus the quality took a drop in the episode. It was an above par episode, overall, but great would be stretching it.

        Dinosaurs on a Spaceship wasn’t a half-bad episode, it was fairly enjoyable. Not to say one of the best, no, but I wouldn’t dare knock it. As for the Power of Three, well, none of the Pond Centric episodes are my favorite at all, but it was cool to see a different side of their relationship and of the Doctor. It was an interesting episode, but the ending was way too sudden (and a bit of hokey with the power of three tagline).

        I should add that I don’t think Chibnall will be considered, nor do I think that he really should as of yet. He needs a better face with the show, as well as a few strongly good episodes under his belt. I wouldn’t put his candidacy in, certainly not.

        Even with the grim selection from which to choose from, I don’t think the Head Writer/showrunner position is in any place to leave. It’s customary for them to write the pilots, direct the primary flow of the story-arc, and to finish out with the season ender. To my knowledge, it’s been a position always kept with Doctor Who (and British television in general? Unsure). There needs to be someone at the head of the ship to steer it.

  26. David F says:

    Moffat clerkly worries about doing anything the same way it’s been done before, and is always subverting conventions. He does it brilliantly. Gatiss, however, loves the conventions and likes reproducing them without irony. He’s a very safe, traditionalist Who writer. And for me, one of his episodes in a season is enough. Too safe, too comfortable.

    He has severe problems with pacing, and his dialogue is filled with hackneyed sayings. In Cold War, for example, the flow of dialogue is broken by corny lines such as “I think he wants to speak to the organ grinder, not the monkey” and “It never rains, but it pours”. It’s as if Gatiss is saying, “Hey, listen, everyone. Here’s a phrase that everyone says. Have you noticed how everyone says this? Look. Here’s a reference to something old you’re probably familiar with.”

    On the other hand, Toby Whithouse has been growing in confidence. The God Complex aside, his storylines have been a little formulaic (Vampires in Venice is uncannily similar to School Reunion) but he touches on interesting points of moral ambiguity, and the dialogue (assuming it wasn’t the result of Moffat’s polishing) is tight and entertaining.

    Neil Cross might be the most interesting prospect. He seems to be a writer who has strong ideas on how a show might look and feel. Rings of Akhaten didn’t quite work, but there was something lovely at its heart, and Hide had moments of observation about life and time-travel that felt original. He also seemed keen to push atheistic arguments through his stories, which is fine by me. I have a feeling that he would impose his own vision on the show, and that’s crucial for its health.

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