They say you should never go back.
Whether it’s sports, politics or popular culture, history is littered with people who once called him to the top of their profession but struggled to find the old magic when they did. were tempted to return to what made their name.
In most cases, then, news of Russell T Davies returning as Doctor Whos’ showrunner in 2023 would sound the alarm bells and whistles. But for a series that recently felt its best years were behind it, the prospect of Davies returning to the series he spectacularly regenerated 16 years ago feels like a match in heaven.
During his first conquering stint on Doctor Who, Davies turned a drama that had been unceremoniously ditched by the BBC in 1989 into date viewing. It was suddenly a mainstream series seen by millions of viewers, a show that became a Christmas Day staple that wasn’t confined to science fiction fans. Genre TV had its prime time, and Doctor Who with Davies at the helm was the driving force.
As a longtime fan of the series, Davies has always respected the decades-old mythology. At the same time, however, he realized that many onlookers wouldn’t know a Cyberman from a Sontaran. So, throughout the four seasons of his run, he gradually told the story of a two-hearted alien, who ventured through space and time in a blue phone booth.
But, most importantly, the human drama was now just as important as the alien threats, as companions Martha Jones, Donna Noble and especially Rose Tyler, and their lives outside of the TARDIS, became part of the story. All fans of the classic Who loved the reinvention, but for many viewers, its run was contagious, propulsive, and inescapable.
A writer at the top of his art
And that’s what characterizes Daviess’s work. His scripts are bursting with energy and emotion that few other TV writers can match, with exposure, comedy and tragedy often seamlessly combining in the same scene. He’s also brilliant on the producer side of the showrunning gig, a master at pulling together a disparate set of episodes into a cohesive whole and making the most of the talent at his disposal. After all, it was under Daviess that David Tennant and Billie Piper became TV stars, and future showrunner Steven Moffat wrote some of the greatest episodes in the series’ history.
Has everything Davies done on Who been successful? Not at all, but he’s never been afraid to try new things. One episode even featured an alien designed for a contest on the longtime children’s show Blue Peter, and the show has arguably never reached the same heights so steadily since leaving.
In recent years, Davies has confirmed his status as one of the best writers in the business, with A Very English Scandal, Years and Years, and Its a Sin, in particular, proving Doctor Who is once again welcoming a screenwriter while top of his game. He also spent his decade away from the series at a safe but respectful distance, without even being tempted to go back and write an episode.
He took the opportunity to return to the status of a fan of the Who, as he pointed out in a press release accompanying the announcement of his return. [via the BBC]: “I’m more than happy to be back on my favorite show. But I was traveling too fast through time, there is a whole slew of brilliant Doctors Jodie Whittaker that I can enjoy, along with my friend and hero [lead writer] Chris Chibnall at the helm, I’m still a spectator for now.
This mix of separation, whimsical respect, and knowledge of the inner workings of the series is what makes Davies the perfect candidate for the Doctor Who gig. Indeed, just like he did the first time around, he finds himself taking the helm of a much-loved show with decades of history, which would need an infusion of good, magic, to make it happen. to feel essential in the television landscape of his time. .
There couldn’t be a better place to start than the 60th anniversary of 2023 if Davies follows tradition and brings together several doctors for a celebratory episode, it could be one of the televised events of the year. It will also be intriguing to see how he deals with the new aspects of the canon established by his successors, Moffat and Chibnall, and especially anyone he chooses to replace Jodie Whittaker as the next Doctor Who.
And why stop at a show in the universe of Doctor Who? During the glory days of the late ’00s, spinoff shows Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures meant Who was making shared universes while the MCU was still in its infancy. Davies certainly seems open to the prospect of expanding beyond the parent show. “I was running an empire,” Davies recalled in January 2021 (via RadioTimes.com). “And my god, I did this 10 years too early, didn’t I?”
“There should be a Doctor Who channel now. You watch all these new Star Wars and Marvel shows, you think we should be sitting here announcing The Adventures of Nyssa or The Return of Donna Noble, and you should have the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors together in a 10-part series. Truly.”
As Doctor Who nears its seventh decade, a milestone so epic that even Star Trek is catching up, it couldn’t be better hands especially as Second Era Davies will be a co-production with Bad Wolf, the company founded by Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter, key players in the comeback of Whos 2005.
Now a show that looked like it needed a new Russell T Davies has got its hands on the Russell T Davies and the future of a 58-year-old institution look really bright.
Doctor Who returns to BBC America and BBC One later this year. The second edition of the Russell T Davies show is scheduled to begin in 2023.