The Man Who Could (Possibly) Be King (Maybe): Howard Overman

Continuing the theme of the title, my king-making choice (a man to take over from Steven Moffat as showrunner of the good ship TARDIS) is a bit like the guy who in 1714 suggested putting George I on the throne of England: “Yeah – Hanover. Never been here, doesn’t speak English- worth a punt?”

Howard Overman, ladies and gentlemen. Creator of the wonderfully wrong Misfits for E4, and soon starting a second series of the far-more-family-friendly Atlantis in the BBC1 slot vacated by – wait for it – Doctor Who. Chuck in Merlin and Vexed and you have quite a CV of popular TV of the last decade. True, he also wrote Dirk Gently for BBC4 but let’s not hold that against him.

Seriously though, Overman could be a worthy contender – granted, he hasn’t actually penned any Who, though he has expressed his admiration for the series in interviews in GQ and The Guardian. What he has got is pedigree. He has created two polar opposite fantasy series and found success with both. Maybe it’s time to look outside the proverbial tent for the next showrunner: after all, if the series had only looked at the usual BBC types in the ’70s, we’d never have had young buck producer Philip Hinchcliffe or an idiosyncratic script editor by the name of Douglas Adams…

Howard Overman

Like Adams, Overman has imagination. One episode of Misfits featured a bloke who has learned to control dairy products. What sort of fevered imagination dreamt that up? A regular character who turns out to be someone’s imaginary childhood friend. A prophetic knitted jumper. Accidentally getting yourself pregnant by means I won’t go into on a family website. All these things were the products of Overman’s imagination over five series.

He can ‘do’ strong characters, too. The big strength of Merlin was its relationships: Merlin and the young Arthur and his mentor Gaius. Misfits, for all its coarseness, sex and drug-taking, had some quite touching moments: the abortive tryst between Nathan and Kelly in the first series, the doomed affair between Alicia and the future Simon, and the dynamic between Rudy and, well, himself all showed a writer who knew his characters inside out, made us care for them and, in the case of – SPOILERS! – Alicia’s death, could wring every last drop of dramatic potential out of them. If there’s a series that really needs some convincing central relationships at the moment, it’s Doctor Who.

So there we are: the case for Howard Overman, a man with no previous Who connections. However, if the powers that be were prepared to give him a chance, I think the gamble could pay off. Hands up who remembers seeing Matt Smith’s unveiling and thinking ‘Eh?’ Look how that worked out…

You may also like...

No Responses

  1. John Shandler says:

    I said Overman should be a contender a few weeks ago. I would say the fact that he hasn’t written for the series before could be a bonus. He could really take it in a different direction. Minus points for keeping Misfits going after series 3 though. Had it ended there, it would’ve been a classic. The final two seasons made it ‘meh’. My money is still on Toby Whithouse, although I am looking forward to an article on Anthony Horowitz though!!!

  2. Sobol says:

    Sadly, I think the main thing that counts against him is Atlantis itself! :p

    • Gareth Kavanagh says:

      Atlantis seems to have gone very Thrones, mind going on the recent trailer. This looks to be a vast improvement for me…

  3. Al says:

    I don’t think the fact he ran a series with adult content should disqualify him from taking on Doctor Who. Remember Russell T Davies created the very adult series Queer as Folk and that didn’t stop him. He’s got a varied enough CV to be a good choice, bolstered by the fact he did Doctor Who’s BBC Cymru sister series Merlin so he knows the scene down there. (I don’t know who does Misfits.) I agree they don’t need to just look in the family to pick the next show-runner. I just want it to be a fan, not someone who comes in either totally ignorant of it (that rarely works well) or perhaps might even with some contempt for it, or a feeling that they have to fix something that isn’t really broken.

    • Simon Magellan says:

      I’d go the opposite way – I’d say there is no need for the producer to be a “fan” – both RTD and SM are, but it hasn’t stopped huge criticism of some of their work on the show (eg Missy).

      Let’s face it – was Hinchcliffe a fan? Was Letts? Innes Lloyd didn’t even like SF, let alone DW!

      If we limit ourselves to fans, we could end up ignoring real talent just because they don’t belong to the right clique – it’ll be like Party membership in some tin pot dictatorship!

  4. kukumo says:

    “If there’s a series that really needs some convincing central relationships at the moment, it’s Doctor Who”

    ?? Sorry, I think The doctor and claras relationship is great stuff.. so brilliantly acted.

  5. Simon Magellan says:

    Must admit to never having heard of him!

    I’ve said elsewhere that I’m not much bothered by the idea of a new Showrunner (or whatever you wish to call it) – I’d rather a straight Producer who didn’t write for the series, wasn’t even a writer.

    Brian Minchin seems to be doing a good job here and I don’t see why he couldn’t stay on in that role, with a good strong Script Editor brought in.

  6. I have wanted Overman to write for Doctor Who for a very long time based on Merlin and Misfits but Atlantis is garbage…much rather have Toby Whithouse in control while finally allowing Overman to have a shot at some Who scripts would be my ideal solution.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *