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SYFY WIRE Doctor Who

'Doctor Who' writer Russell T. Davies, architect of the show's revival, to return as showrunner

By Matthew Jackson
Russell T Davies

Russell T. Davies, the writer and producer who revitalized Doctor Who in 2005 and ushered in a new era of the classic sci-fi series as a global fandom phenomenon, is heading back to the TARDIS. The BBC confirmed that, after more than a decade away from the series he helped revive, Davies will return to Doctor Who in 2023, the 60th anniversary of the classic series, to once again serve as showrunner.

Davies replaces outgoing writer and producer Chris Chibnall, who joined the series alongside Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker in 2018. Both Chibnall and Whittaker announced earlier this year that they'd be departing the series after a string of specials in 2022 to finish out the Thirteenth Doctor's journey, clearing the way for a new creative team to move in.

There were, of course, a lot of possibilities in terms of who might step in for Chibnall, but fans probably didn't expect the man who co-created the Ninth and Tenth Doctors to be among them.

“I’m beyond excited to be back on my favourite show,” Davies said. “But we’re time-travelling too fast, there’s a whole series of Jodie Whittaker’s brilliant Doctor for me to enjoy, with my friend and hero Chris Chibnall at the helm – I’m still a viewer for now.”

Doctor Who relaunched after a 16-year BBC hiatus in 2005 with Davies at the helm as showrunner and Christopher Eccleston in the TARDIS as the Ninth Doctor. The first season was acclaimed as a welcome revival of beloved series, but Eccleston departed after just one round of episodes, clearing the way for David Tennant's Tenth Doctor and an even larger explosion of the Who phenomenon around the world. With that explosion came spinoff potential, and Davies also went on to create Doctor Who tie-in shows like Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

After a successful run with Tennant, Davies departed the show to make room for showrunner Steven Moffat and Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith. Moffat eventually handed the baton off to Chibnall and Whittaker after a substantial run with Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi, and now Chibnall is handing it back to Davies, who he previously worked with as a writer on both Doctor Who and Torchwood.

“It’s monumentally exciting and fitting that Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary will see one of Britain’s screenwriting diamonds return home,” Chibnall said. “Russell built the baton that is about to be handed back to him — Doctor Who, the BBC, the screen industry in Wales, and let’s be honest everyone in the whole world, have so many reasons to be Very Excited Indeed about what lies ahead.”

As Davies himself noted, we have a whole year of Chibnall/Whittaker adventures to look forward to before he takes the helm, but the delay in re-assuming the job also means something else: Davies will have a whole year to pick a new Doctor. So, who will it be this time?