Doctor Who Russell T Davies and Mark Gatiss - who should replace Steven Moffat on Doctor Who?

Published on August 2nd, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

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Who YOU Chose To Replace Steven Moffat [POLL RESULT]

Last month we asked you who you wanted to replace Steven Moffat as Doctor Who showrunner should rumours of his departure in the near future come to pass.

The result was interesting, with a clear split between two hugely popular names in Doctor Who

Russell T Davies and Mark Gatiss - who should replace Steven Moffat on Doctor Who?

In answer to the questionWho should replace Steven Moffat as Doctor Who showrunner?readers of Kasterborous answered:

  • Russell T Davies  34.32%  (543 votes)
  • Mark Gatiss  33.38%  (528 votes)
  • Toby Whithouse  14.03%  (222 votes)
  • Other:  10.87%  (172 votes)
  • Philip Hinchcliffe  6.38%  (101 votes)
  • Matthew Graham  1.01%  (16 votes)

While there is little to choose between the man who brought Doctor Who back, Russell T Davies and Mark Gatiss, it might also be classed as a damning indictment of the Steven Moffat era that so many would be happy for the show to take a retrograde step – perhaps to erase the memory of some unnecessarily convoluted plots?

On the other hand, Mark Gatiss’ stories haven’t been as widely loved as Moffat’s or Davies’, yet he remains popular among fans. On the other hand, The Unquiet Dead and The Crimson Horror are both excellent episodes.

Toby Whithouse, meanwhile, was previously Being Human‘s creator and main writer, and his Doctor Who stories such as School Reunion and The God Complex have proved enduring.

The “Other” option saw Neil Gaiman as the most popular option, with the writer of The Doctor’s Wife and Nightmare in Silver sitting alongside Nick Briggs and Dirk Gently‘s Howard Overman.

Our cheeky suggestion of Philip Hinchcliffe drew plenty of votes too. Remember that Hinchcliffe – unlike his predecessor Barry Letts – was not a writer. Yet his era of Doctor Who is one of the most loved and fondly remembered for episodes as wonderful as The Pyramid of Mars and The Robots of Death.

Finally, Matthew Graham’s name has been linked with the Doctor Who job for several years, and the writer – who co-created Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes – has had mixed success with the poorly executed Fear Her (not a bad script but an awful production) and the more interesting The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People.

So, Kasterborites, you have spoken – but what are the chances of Russell T Davies returning, really…?

I think commenter Lara put it best:

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.

Our considered opinion is that Steven Moffat’s successor is someone already known to us, but not, perhaps, a big name…

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About the Author

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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+.




48 Responses to Who YOU Chose To Replace Steven Moffat [POLL RESULT]

  1. avatar johnnybear says:

    Hinchcliffe may not have been a writer but he became one as he wrote three Target novels in the seventies! Two Tom Baker’s and one Hartnell!
    He was a great producer and makes moffat’s time on the show look like a cartoon!

  2. avatar Laz says:

    Well, I absolutely love Moffat and Moffat’s work. And I don’t find it convoluted at all!

    Still, when his time to leave will come (hopefully in the very far future), the only person I *know* would be able to be showrunner is Russell. I loved his Doctor Who too, so why not? It’s not a step back.

    When Russell was showrunner I knew that Moffat would be perfect after him (because I knew he was a great showrunner having watched all of his other series), now… I see no one.

    I love Mark Gatiss too, but showrunner? I’m not sure…

  3. avatar Jason Ward says:

    With a couple of exceptions I’ve found Moffat’s writing for Matt Smith to be a bit of a mess, I’d love RTD to come back but, assuming that doesn’t happen, has anyone mentioned Phil Ford? He’s successful, experienced and seems to have more an RTD style.

  4. avatar Lewis Seymour says:

    The past always looks better through the prism of nostalgia. It’s a fact of life. (Look at America, where Dubya is now enjoying record approval ratings!) I well remember moans and groans when RTD was in charge – it may have had many golden moments, but it was not a Golden Age.

    Personally, would much prefer if they abandoned the Showrunner idea and went back to a good strong Producer/Script Editor team and sincerely hope that the appointment of Brian Minchin might herald this once Moffat steps down.

    • avatar iLikeTheUDK says:

      Yes, that would be an awesome idea.

  5. avatar TonyS says:

    Essentially the two most popular candidates are the two most obvious. And one of them is the Moff’s predecessor. I think the BBC will need to be more imaginative. I have no particular beef with either RTD or Mark Gatiss. I just think, like Lewis, that we should get away from the whole “showrunner” style. I also think we need someone who likes the show but is not so bound up in the past of the show

  6. avatar Neu 75 says:

    We can’t have RTD again. All those puffed up w*nkers that spend all their time slagging of Moffat would be merely switch back to slating RTD as they did before, because somehow they think they know better.
    Cue the usual “I have a right to say what I like” wounded animal spiel…

  7. avatar Aleksandrovitch says:

    I agree with Neu 75. This web site continues to get extremely negative about Moffat who has taken Doctor Who to new levels of popularity globally. I found that that whilst RTD did wonderful things for Doctor Who, that by the end it had simply become a camp soap opera and it was time for him to go. Moffat has revived the show and given it back its original spirit of wonder, mystery and awe, whilst taking it in new directions. I hope he stays for a good deal longer. And people try be more positive. Remember the years 1989 to 2005? Honestly you don’t know how lucky you are. Stop the negativity and celebrate.


    • http://www.kasterborous.com/2013/05/sub-editorial-save-me-from-negativity/

    • avatar TonyS says:

      While there is a lot of negativity, there are also many regular particpants and news staff who give a balanced set of opinions. Stick with the site. We aren’t all Moffat-bashers. I find this a very well-mannered environment and well balanced site on the whole.

    • avatar Lewis Seymour says:

      I’d say this – two of the best DW stories ever (including the Classic Series) have been under Moffat. But “The Doctor’s Wife” and “Vincent and The Doctor” should not mean that we tolerate rubbish like “Dinosaurs on a Space” in silence. I don’t believe in the “Keep Calm and Carry On” and it’ll all be alright because they know better than us crap – I believe if people stand in the middle of the road, they get run over (Bevan). If you believe in something, even if others don’t like it and don’t want to hear it, you not only have a right to say it – you have a duty (if only to yourself). It doesn’t make you any less of a fan – it might even make you more of one, because you love the show and know what it can achieve and don’t want to let it forget it!

      (This is my “I have a right to say what I like” wounded animal spiel…”)

      • avatar TonyS says:

        Lewis, I am in complete agreement. Not about “The Doctor’s Wife” (or “Dinosaurs On A Spaceship” actually). But about not keeping silent if one disagrees with something. But reasoned, well argued debate is light years from Moffat-bashing. And the positive part of debate on this site allows for a difference of opinion and supports the right- possibly the duty even- to speak out. Long may this continue.

        • avatar TonyS says:

          And I most certainly DO want to read well-expressed opinions- even those with which I do not agree.

          • avatar Lewis Seymour says:

            I had a thought. Back in the 80s a group of fans were very, very, vocal in their complaints about the show. This was pre-internet, Twitter and FB of course, but they made their opinions so well known that they were invited onto a TV show to state their opinions about the series to JNT. I didn’t actually agree with much of what they said, if I remember correctly.

            But one of them was Chris Chibnall. Not only has he written for the show, he is now one of the major Producer/Writers in this country. He could easily end up as Showrunner of DW someday.

            There is no reason to believe that some of those who offer “negative” views today won’t, one day, in a similar position – either writing for the show or even Producing it.

          • avatar TonyS says:

            Yes he was- while a member of the Merseyside Local Group. The programme is somewhere on one of the dvds. Time & The Rani perhaps.

          • avatar TonyS says:

            Arguably, what kept the programme alive between 1989 and 2005 and what brought the programme back was people who were passionate about it. Without Big Finish (and others) the programme might have become a half-remembered curiosity. Without Russell Davies’ drive and enthusiasm we would have had no programme. As with Mr M, I do not agree with all that Russell Davies did and he was guilty of some of the worst dei ex machinae going. But he did bring the programme back and make it work. More than that- he made it cool.

  8. avatar Al says:

    I’m already tired of the incessant Moffat-bashing. It’ll be cranked up to 11 if they went back to Davies, and on top of that we’d have to put up with the whining from the Davies bashers (does anyone really want us to go back to things like the “gay agenda” conspiracy theory?). I’d go with Gatiss because the guy has paid his dues going back to the 1990s and was one of those, along with Nick Briggs, who kept DW alive during the 1990s with his work on the various independent spin-offs.

  9. avatar Aleksandrovitch says:

    Excellent points made by Al

  10. avatar Ranger says:

    I would like to see an attempt to drop the showrunner role (if we have to have it Gatiss gets my vote). This would allow more writers to get a chance to write for the show instead of the 4-5 episodes from the showrunner, leading to a better diversity of styles and ideas. I have to say at the moment the show is too much molded into one man’s view and that can’t be good. (This is not a dig at Moffatt, I think it is a bad idea whoever was in the role). I would get rid of story arcs as well. While I was a lover of them in Babylon 5, I don’t think they work that well in Doctor Who – which is, at its essence, about a run-away exploring the universe. It’s all become a bit soap-opera and touchy-feely.

  11. avatar rer says:

    Eoin Colfer

    • avatar TonyS says:

      Well he certainly has the imagination. Interesting choice. In a simialr vein what about Derek Landry, Joseph Delaney or Anthony Horowitz?

      • avatar Lewis Seymour says:

        Horowitz is the most obvious one, having the TV experience as well – but if we’re talking “proper” writers, what about Charlie Higson?

        • avatar TonyS says:

          I’d forgotten him. Good idea.

  12. avatar Koth says:

    I think the problem with Moff is that his focus has been on the US. Whether BBC America were the big payers for his series’ I dont know. The US have had it much better than us this year. Let the focus be on the adventure again and not the soapy wash of characters like the Ponds.
    I hear Eastenders are looking for a new Exec.

    • avatar Lewis Seymour says:

      The American Bias claim has been made since the 1980s – when they got to see the 20th Special before us,.and of course they revived the series first and had McGann succeeded, could have taken it off in whole new directions. I don’t believe the series is particularly biased towards the Yanks – it has more US filmed/set episodes now, but it makes sense to acknowledge that the Earth consists of more than just England!

      • avatar koth says:

        Dont get me wrong I am not anti US. I’m just sad at the difference in quality from the Moffs writing before he was showrunner, which was top notch, to less than average as show runner.
        I say Go Gatiss!

        • avatar Lewis Seymour says:

          The quality issue is probably because whereas before he was a jobbing writer, doing one or two eps a season, now he is juggling producing DW, producing Sherlock, and writing multiple eps, including the yearly Xmas specials (which have been almost uniformly awful) – it’s bound to have an affect on even the best writer. As Eastwood once said – “A man’s got to know his limitations”…

          • avatar rickjlundeen says:

            Moffat’s scripts are just a little more uneven than they used to be. I remember that, to me, the Library two parter, although really good, wasn’t exactly in the same category as his earlier scripts and that was when he was already mentally planning ahead for everything that was to come during his reign. I think he just redirected his energy and it kind of shows. His earlier stuff under RTD were all-in-one stories with the maximum impact but as showrunner, each script he writes is more of a puzzle piece of a much larger story. They contribute more to the story arc of that season, or at least the tentpoles of the season he’s writing. In series 6, I felt all the stories written by other writers were given second class status to serve his tentpole episodes. Maybe Gatiss *would* be a good choice. He might make a more successful showrunner than he does writer for the show.

  13. avatar james says:

    do people really not like Victory of the Daleks? is it the redesign and the colors that bother you or the story? because the story, by Gatiss, is cracking good stuff. one of my favorites of the 11th doctor.

    • avatar TonyS says:

      I can only speak for myself (obviously). “Victory” came after a stonking great debut and a second episode that was also great. (Yes I know that’s not a universally held opinion- but I like “The Beast Below”) There is stuff to like about “Victory of the Daleks” but it just feels like a vehicle to introduce the new paradigm Smartie Tubes. On the plus side, at least it isn’t “Asylum”.

  14. avatar rickjlundeen says:

    No matter who’s in the big chair, they get praised and loved and hated and slammed, it never changes. As I say…

    “You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can never please an internet fan.”

  15. avatar Colin says:

    I wonder if the Gatiss votes were on the strength of Sherlock? After all, he and Moff co-created it, and I gather Gatiss has taken much of the showrunning burden of Sherlock while Moff’s been concentrating on Who. If I’m right, and Sherlock is an example of Gatiss’ showrunning ability, I think Who would be in good hands.

    That said, I’m with those who certainly expected more of Moff given his stellar episodes under RTD, but I’m not ready to throw him out. After all, his is not an easy job, and a love of Who, or being a good writer are hardly going to sustain you when you have to deal with all the other stuff that comes along with producing a flagship TV show. Also, I think this past season (7) has been the most consistently good season, which shows Moff can helm a good run. The trick is he needs to write less. It’s when his energies are dissipated that the quality of his work suffers. If you look at all his best work for Who, and outside Who, you don’t find his name in the “Producer” credits. I think he can be a great showrunner, and he can be a great writer. He just needs to weigh his priorities better.

    That’s what I think. :)

    • avatar Lewis Seymour says:

      Not sure about Gatiss’ involvement with Sherlock – he seems very busy for a “showrunner”, always writing, producing or acting in something. Apart from Sherlock, he’s got the DW special, an MR James documentary and adaptation, a series 8 episode, and a regular appearance in GoT coming up!

      Maybe he is just very good at multi-tasking?!

    • avatar TonyS says:

      As someone not involved in television production I speak as a novice. However I do think Steven Moffat is strecthing himself too thin. I would prefer that he concentrate on writing though. When he is on form he writes exceptionally well. On the evidence of “Press Gang” “Coupling” “The Empty Child/The Docotr Dances” “The Girl In The Fireplace” and “Blink” he could probably justify the label of “genius”. Since show-running I believe that his work has suffered in quality. And since “Sherlock”… Give the poor man a break. I think we have to accept that he is a mortal man and subject to limitations. Much of what he has done as show-runner is good. Some is even excellent. But, to use a word you use yourself, little of it is stellar. If we had not seen of what he is capable, we might perhaps have been more accepting. But we know that he “could do better”. And has done better.

      • avatar Colin says:

        I would also prefer to see Moff writing as opposed to showrunning. But I don’t know who else would be willing to take on the monster that Who has become!

  16. avatar matthewstott says:

    RTD back in charge? I mean really? He’s done his time, he made a great job of it, but to go back to him would be absurd. You move forward, new person, new point of view.

    • avatar TonyS says:

      Agreed, Matthewstott. Evolution (though I am a Creationist myself) not devolution. I am warming to the idea of Mark Gatiss doing it. He has a long connection with Dr Who. Just look at some of the novels he wrote for Virgin (Nightshade is excellent) or his Big Finish plays. And he cares about the programme. The documentary he did on horror films was excellent, mainly because he let his enthusiasm shine through.

  17. avatar lozzer says:

    It’s just crossed my mind that if Peter Capaldi is unveiled as the new Doctor, he might only have agreed to do it for a year – this would make sense as he’s old/ish for the intensive production schedule, and the new show runner then gets to pick their own Doctor. Yes I’d Love RTD back – I could sit and listen to him talk all day, but he had his time and I’d be grateful to just get the odd episode from him. Personally I’d like two showrunners – Mark Gattis and Nick Briggs might work well together and hark us back to the Dicks and Letts days.


    • Ah, the old “intensive production schedule” chestnut. Didn’t do Jon Pertwee any harm, did it, forty years ago with multi camera setups and more personal appearances?

      Other than that, it’s a good point.

      • avatar Lewis Seymour says:

        Quite. He’s 55. He’s not a geriatric case (he’s 7 years older than me, so I hope not!) and the same age as Hartnell was when the show started (another omen there). This is a really dreadful ageist attitude.

        • avatar Lozzer says:

          I’m not being ageist, I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t do it for three years, it’s interviews from the production team that have suggested it’s a younger mans game. I would like to see an older actor in the role for a good stint – if actors can do it in long running American shows, I’m sure they can do it here. I just wouldn’t be surprised though if a one year deal was struck to see out Moffat’s era. We’ll see what happens.

          • avatar Lewis Seymour says:

            I disagree. I think whoever it is, and however old they are, they will sign them up for three years from day one. If they are a smash hit they won’t want to risk losing them or being held to ransom by them in contract negotiations.

            The comments from the Production Office you refer to come from the RTD era, when he is reputed to have said no one over 45 could play the role. Moffat – who you can choose to believe or not as you wish – has maintained that there is no age limit and that he was originally looking for an older Doctor in 2009. Patterson Joseph, who was a strong contender, was 44, for example.

            (While he has cast the youngest Doctor ever, he has, if Hurt is indeed the Doctor, also cast the oldest actor ever in the role)

    • avatar TonyS says:

      Whoever is cast, I really hope they are committed to more than just one season. The programme can really do without all the questions (that will probably start on Monday morning) as to when he will leave. Yes I said ‘he’. I know I have advocated casting Amanda Abbington. But I believe that the role should be played by a man.

  18. avatar TonyS says:

    Ben Aaronovitch?

    • avatar iLikeTheUDK says:

      No idea how I haven’t thought of it until now!

  19. avatar Lewis Seymour says:

    We should remember that we are operating within a fandom bubble here. We might spend hours speculating and arguing (and in some cases insulting each other) about who the next Doctor will be, their race, sex, sexual orientation, height… and about the merits of RTD, Moffat, Gatiss and the rest – but by and large the general public aren’t like this. And they are the ones that really matter.

    I know a lot of people who watch DW regularly – but wouldn’t describe themselves as “fans” – they don’t buy DWM or go to conventions or visit websites like this for news and information and to take part in forums.

    But they are the people who the BBC has to get to sit in front of the TV screens. I am afraid that all of those people I know have felt the series has been below standard and have felt this way for a couple of years. They may like Vastra and Strax, they may enjoy individual episodes, but they don’t enjoy the series as a whole as much as they used to.

    And viewers aren’t tuning in as they once did – the combined figures are down (Nightmare in Silver fell out of the top 20, something that hasn’t happened in years, Crimson Horror only just made it – and these were hyped episodes) – I know “TV has changed” and people will catch up with DW via iPlayer or repeats – but lots of shows still get big ratings and provide “water cooler” moments the next day – DW needs to get back to that, it needs to be the show that people watch when it’s on, that they don’t want to miss, don’t want to turn over from. It has to be “Must Watch” TV – it proved it can be this, it needs to be this again.

    Whoever we get tomorrow night, I sincerely hope they are the Doctor who will lead the Renaissance of the Show. Good luck to whoever he (or she) is. We who are about to watch, salute you!

    • avatar TonyS says:

      This is just the kind of comment we were talking about, Lewis. Well argued and constructed. Makes this site worth sticking with. This and others.

  20. avatar Kazu says:

    I’m from the US and, incidentally my ancestors were from London. That being said, I would like to see the Doctor and companions travel the planet more. Maybe have one episode in Japan, another in Australia, maybe a little fling in South America, hacking through the jungles. There also should be a male companion, but probably I’m a bit biased as I loved the interplay between Jamie and the Second Doctor.

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