Doctor Who: Russell T Davies returns as programme showrunner

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Russell T DaviesImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Davies said he was "still a viewer" for the time being

Screenwriter Russell T Davies is to take charge again of Doctor Who, the sci-fi show he helped revive in 2005.

Davies, who was the fantasy drama's showrunner until 2009, will take over when Chris Chibnall departs next year.

"I'm beyond excited to be back on my favourite show," said Davies, who resumes his role as the show prepares to mark its 60th anniversary in 2023.

One of his first responsibilities will be to decide who takes over the Tardis following Jodie Whittaker's exit.

The actress is set to hang up her Sonic Screwdriver after one more six-part series and three 2022 specials.

In a statement, however, Davies said it would be "time-travelling too fast" to speculate on what will happen when he returns.

"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," he continued. "I'm still a viewer for now."

Image caption,
Jodie Whittaker will star in a new series and three specials next year, before she exits the series

Chibnall said it was "monumentally exciting and fitting" that Davies would be back in charge for the series' 60th birthday.

"Russell built the baton that is about to be handed back to him," the writer and producer continued.

Davies revived Doctor Who in its current incarnation with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and remained for David Tennant's time as the Doctor.

Steven Moffat took over when Matt Smith took on the role, staying to supervise Peter Capaldi's stint as TV's indefatigable Time Lord.

The success of Doctor Who's relaunch led Davies to create two spin-off shows, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Analysis by BBC entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba

It's nearly 18 years to the day since the BBC announced that Doctor Who was returning, more than a decade after it was axed. No Doctor or companion had yet been cast, but it was confirmed that Russell T Davies would be in charge of the show. At the time, the lifelong Doctor Who fan was best known as the writer of Queer As Folk (he even managed to briefly squeeze robot dog K9 into the series).

Few predicted how huge it would become upon its return, and Davies is the man credited with much of that success. As showrunner he oversaw every creative aspect of the science fiction drama, wrote many of its scripts, and was an exceptionally hands-on executive producer - the book The Writer's Tale, a diary of daily emails and text messages between Davies and journalist Benjamin Cook. details the attention to detail he gave to almost every part of the show, from approving merchandise designs to overseeing the plans for media events.

His unexpected return to the show has delighted many, because if there is a recent golden era of Doctor Who, it's arguably when Davies was in charge, with the programme attracting huge viewing figures and racking up awards and critical acclaim.

With the exception of the Doctor Who TV movie with Paul McGann, Doctor Who has always been produced purely by the BBC. But from 2023 it will be a co-production with Bad Wolf. The production house was founded by Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner who worked alongside Davies during his time on Doctor Who. Tranter was the BBC's head of drama, Gardner was an executive producer on the show. Both are seen as less high profile, but still crucially important parts of Doctor Who's previous success.

After leaving the show in 2009, Davies enjoyed more acclaim with TV dramas Years and Years, A Very English Scandal and It's A Sin.

Piers Wenger, the BBC's director of drama, said the news of Davies' return would "delight Doctor Who fans across the globe".

"We are thrilled that Russell is returning to Doctor Who to build on the huge achievements of Chris and Jodie," he continued. "Russell, it's wonderful to have you back."

'What a coup'

Davies' return was also welcomed by Bad Wolf, the production company founded in 2015 by former BBC executives Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter.

Gardner and Tranter both worked with Davies on the Doctor Who relaunch and will collaborate with him again when he returns as showrunner.

"We are delighted to be joining Russell T Davies on a looped ontological paradox," said the Bad Wolf Twitter account. "Where Russell goes, we are proud to follow.

"With BBC Studios, Bad Wolf will be producing the all-new series of Doctor Who. It is a privilege to be asked to support him in Doctor Who's future."

Image caption,
Matt Lucas appeared with Pearl Mackie and Peter Capaldi in series 10

Actor Matt Lucas, who played companion Nardole during Capaldi's time as the Doctor, was evidently delighted with the news.

"Russell T Davies back in the Tardis! What a coup! I'm buzzing!" wrote the Bake Off presenter and Little Britain comic on Twitter.

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