Tonight Doctor Who fans were rocked by the news that longtime head writer and showrunner Steven Moffat is leaving the sci-fi series, with fellow Who writer Chris Chibnall taking his place at the centre of the BBC drama.
The new showrunner is probably best known as the man behind ITV smash hit Broadchurch – but if you delve a little deeper into his career you can see that he has exactly the right sort of experience to take on the demanding mantle of running Doctor Who.
Beginning with the fact that…
He’s (sort of) run a Whoniverse show before
While Torchwood was created by Russell T Davies, Chibnall was the co-producer and de facto head writer of the Doctor Who spin-off for the first two series, writing eight episodes in total before departing for pastures new. Notably, he also wrote the finales for both series one and two, and the opener for series two.
He has plenty of actual Doctor Who experience
Chibnall has written several episodes of Doctor Who, including monster-on-a-spaceship thriller 42, Silurian two-parter The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, and family-friendly romps Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and The Power of Three.
Between those episodes and his Torchwood work, he can clearly handle a lot of different styles and tones, so there's no telling exactly how his new Doctor Who will work.
And a LOT of showrunner experience
You’ll probably know Chibnall best for his hit ITV drama Broadchurch (which stars more or less every Doctor Who actor ever), which he created and manages, but that’s far from the only time he's been in charge of a big TV project.
As noted, he worked pretty heavily on spin-off Torchwood, and was also a showrunner for ITV crime drama Law and Order: UK (starring Doctor Who’s Freema Agyeman), and Channel 4 Arthurian fantasy Camelot.
Prior to that, Chibnall served as producer and head writer for BBC drama Born and Bred, helped develop Saturday-night drama Merlin for the screen, and was the only guest writer on time-travel police procedural Life on Mars to pen episodes for both series.
Managing Broadchurch, he's also learned to be very good at keeping secrets. Here he is being very 'discreet' at the Radio Times Covers Party when quizzed about series two.
In short, Chibnall is a safe pair of hands for the flagship BBC series.
His other work is pretty great too
Outside of his series work, Chibnall has written acclaimed one-off dramas including The Great Train Robbery and United (about the Munich air disaster, the aeroplane crash that killed eight members of Manchester United football team, starring Broadchurch and Doctor Who lead David Tennant).
Most importantly of all, he’s a massive Doctor Who fan
Chibnall has been a fan of the series for years, even appearing on TV as a young man to represent the Doctor Who Appreciation Society in 1986 (see above, about 2 minutes in). Among Doctor Who writers and producers this makes him unique, as he’s the only one to be on TV talking about both the original and modern series while they were broadcasting.
In other words, Chibnall has been spreading the good news about Doctor Who for 30 years – here’s hoping his time in charge of the series will continue the trend.