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Chris Chibnall: The New "Doctor Who" Showrunner

Updated on January 23, 2016

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who's head writer and producer since 2010, has announced that 2017's Season 10 will be his last. His replacement? Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall. It's a move that seems a bit odd, given the infrequency of Chibnall's Doctor Who writing until now (he's written 4 stories for the show in its 10 years of existence), but a look back on these scripts, as well as some of his other noteable accomplishments, might give us some insight as to Doctor Who's future with Chibnall at the helm.

Doctor Who

Like I said before, Chris Chibnall has written four stories for Doctor Who: "42" in Season 3, "The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood" in Season 5, "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" in Season 7, and "The Power of Three" in Season 7. While I enjoyed all of these stories, they were met with mostly lukewarm reception from fans and critics. I'll give you a brief review of each story, as well as my personal rating.

  • 42: Trapped on a dead spaceship that's drifting towards a sun, The Doctor and Martha must help the crew escape in 42 minutes. For me, this episode is the beginning of Doctor Who's Golden Age - I liked every single episode after it until Season 7. It's a high-action thriller that also delivers one of the 10th Doctor's more vulnerable moments (which is saying a lot, honestly). A bit of wonky science, but it's not enough to undo a very fun episode. 7/10
  • The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood: "The graves eat people." So cautions Elliot, a young boy whose family lives near the deepest drilling expedition in human history. This story displays one of Chibnall's most common writing techniques - it's an action-packed, high intensity thriller in the first part, and a very personal character study in the second. Chibnall's Doctor Who is about ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinary circumstances, and what they do with their opportunity. 8/10

The Doctor and his gang from "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"
The Doctor and his gang from "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"
  • Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: Yes, it is as zany as the name suggests. This is Doctor Who's Sharknado, taking two things that should be separate and throwing them together. And, surprisingly, it works. Like Chibnall's previous stories, this one is full of action, which it uses as a backdrop to develop its characters. While the idea is undeniably weird, the execution of it is perfect, making it one of my favorite episodes of Season 7. 8/10
  • The Power of Three: This is so unlike a Chibnall script that at first I didn't realize it was by him. There is a lot of buildup in the first 40 minutes of the story, with almost no payoff whatsoever in a rushed climax. This, like many stories in Season 7, should definitely have been part one of a two-part story. There are a lot of great moments, but the ridiculously rushed ending spoils it. 6/10.

Torchwood

Brought on to Torchwood by Russel T. Davies in 2005, Chibnall effectively became the head writer of the first two seasons. He wrote eight scripts for the show before leaving to work on Law and Order: UK. Season 1 and 2 of Torchwood are generally credited as the best ones, with most fans claiming that the show took a severe downward turn after Chibnall left it.

Broadchurch

This might be the most appealing aspect of Chibnall's career thus far. The award-winning masterpiece Broadchurch is his own creation. Winner of four BAFTA awards (Best Actress, Olivia Colman; Best Supporting Actor, David Bradley; Best Drama Series; Best Original Television Music), it was also nominated for three more: Best Director, Best Editing-Fiction, and Chibnall himself was nominated for Best Writer-Drama. Broadchurch has been a massive success under Chibnall's lead, which can only bring confidence to Doctor Who fans.

How will Doctor Who fare under Chris Chibnall? Only time will tell - but his past successes make this fan more excited than cautious. The Chibnall Era will begin with Season 11 in 2018.

What do you think of Steven Moffat's replacement? Post your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.

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