It has been a few days now since the dramatic news was announced that Steven Moffat would be standing down as Head Writer and Executive Producer of the BBC Wales produced Doctor Who. Firstly, a tribute.
Steven Moffat : The Legend
Many writers have contributed to the history of the programme. All have been entertaining and many have come up with some unique and original creations. However, there are a select few who have achieved that consistently. Robert Holmes and Terrance Dicks were joined by the man who successfully brought the show back after over 15 years, Russell T Davies. Now it is certain that Steven Moffat has earned his place on that list. His accomplishments are numerous. He created the Weeping Angels, the Silence and River Song, introduced the world to two different incarnations of the Doctor and managed to deliver a critically acclaimed 50th Anniversary special. Under his stewardship he has been responsible for the past five series of the show but his sixth will be his last.
Moffat’s skill at building a complex tale has come in for criticism a lot recently, particularly after the recent time-hopping special from another of his shows ‘Sherlock’. My own humble opinion concerning the conclusion of the latest series was one of disappointment due to the focus on a departing Clara Oswald. On that basis perhaps it is indeed time for some new ideas and Chris Chibnall was certainly the leading candidate.
Sadly for Chibnall he will frequently be reminded about his appearance on ‘Open Air’ discussing ‘The Trial of the Timelord’ season, see the image above. This does prove his long term consideration of what makes for good Doctor Who. He has contributed episodes to Doctor Who, Torchwood, Life on Mars and Law and Order: UK. Crucially his popular and BAFTA award winning creation ‘Broadchurch’ starring Tenth Doctor David Tennant, has demonstrated his skill being at the helm of a show. Doctor Who is certainly in safe hands.
What is far more troubling however is the news that there will only be one Christmas special in 2016 and series 10 will be broadcast in spring 2017. It feels like 1985 all over again. Doctor Who has been back on the air for over 10 years now and the apathy has set in. Now I am one such viewer who a few years ago would plan the weekend around the broadcast of new Doctor Who. Last year however the Rugby World Cup was on and catch up TV was required. But it is my belief that the BBC have themselves cultivated this viewer apathy. This is because Doctor Who is no longer at one consistent broadcast time but moved around the schedule because the priority is Strictly Come Dancing. If BBC One are not going to give it the respect and promotion with something as basic as allowing the public to know when it is going to be on each and every week then viewers might get excited about it once again. Frankly, Peter Capaldi deserves better.
All the more insulting is the ludicrous quote from BBC One Controller Charlotte Moore, claiming that “national moments” need to be rationed and so Doctor Who series 10 will be held back to 2017. Once again that elevates the European football championships and the Olympic Games above Doctor Who but both are summer events. Historically, new seasons of Doctor Who have debuted in January and frankly that is a far more sensible time of year than the spring which would see viewing figures drop as the weather improves and fewer people at home watching television. Similarly, the cluttered schedules of the autumn are equally unsuitable as has been proved over the last two years. Perhaps therefore Chris Chibnall’s first task is to get a stronger slot and consistent time for the programme to be broadcast.