While Doctor Who fans are currently gearing up to say goodbye to Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor this December, 2017 will also see the departure of series head writer Steven Moffat, who hands over showrunning duties to Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall after the Christmas special.
And now Moffat has taken the time to explain exactly how that sort of handover works, down to the final few minutes of the episode both men are involved in.
“Have you seen that scene in Women in Love when the two men wrestle?” Moffat joked when asked how the transfer of power worked. “No it’s not like that.
“What’s involved? Well, the incredibly exciting thing about Chris taking on the show, he’s actually the most experienced showrunner to come on to Doctor Who. I’d never run a show before really, [former head writer] Russell [T Davies] had done a bit but you know… Chris is coming on to the show with the experience of doing Broadchurch. He’s already done a major-league, much-fussed about show, so he’s got all that experience.
“So there’s not a lot to talk about there. We just keep each other up to date with what’s going on, and we’ve had various conversations about how the stories will work together. But it’s not massively difficult to do all of that. I did all that with Russell as well.”
Incoming Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall
Moffat went on to recall his experience taking over from Russell T Davies in 2009, which has formed the template for his own exchange with Chibnall.
“The best and most hilarious thing about it of course is that I stop several minutes before the end of my last episode and he takes over,” Moffat said, reiterating earlier comments he’d made about his final episode.
“Which is where I started – I started on Doctor Who the moment David Tennant disappeared and Matt Smith appeared. And I wrote that bit.
“It was a ridiculous day. On that day I actually came in, and there was [former executive producer Julie Gardner] and Russell watching the monitor, and we bring Matt in, and we get handed the headphones and we say ‘Goodbye, goodbye.’ And it’s ridiculous! It was just insane. But yeah. That’s what’s involved. It’s not immensely complicated.”
The screenwriter concluded: “I mean, it’s quite easy to hand something over, it’s harder to have something handed to you. So I was doing the difficult part last time, and I’m doing the easy part this time. Which is ‘There you go! Here’s some nurofen, off you pop.’”
And after a few months in the high-pressure world of Doctor Who production, we wouldn’t be surprised if Chibnall would rather face the wrestling…
Doctor Who returns to BBC1 on Saturday 15th April at 7:20pm