Isn’t It Time to Move On? Moffat Claims Another Year as Showrunner

Just when we were starting to wonder what the future held, news comes through that Steven Moffat is set for another year as Doctor Who showrunner. Speaking at a New York Q&A event, Moffat revealed that he has ‘just signed up for another year’, meaning he’s set to oversee Series 10 in (presumably) 2016.

The topic of Moffat’s continued tenure on Doctor Who has become a rather divisive one for the programme’s followers. For every fan who’ll welcome his continued involvement there’ll be another who feels that he really should be moving on and that by now we’d all be talking about a newly confirmed supremo to take the reins next year.

Moffat has often talked about the exhausting schedule and heavy workload his role involves, but never in terms that led one to suspect he was becoming so weary as to be ready to give up one of the most prestigious jobs in television, and it’s perhaps unsurprising that he should feel in no hurry to move on given that he clearly loves his work. It’s also understandable that the BBC should be keen for him to stay given that, whatever you think of his time in charge, it’s been a time of continued success for the programme.

Indeed the list of achievements Moffat can point to since he took over from Russell T Davies is considerable. Two successful transitions of lead actor, along with some of the most popular and enduring companions in the show’s history. Continued ratings success in an ever more competitive broadcasting environment (even more impressive when you consider that he took over at a point when the programme could reasonably have been expected to shed viewers, coming as it did a few years into its revival and following the departure of a hugely popular Doctor). And Doctor Who has also achieved a level of success and attention overseas that it never had in the previous decades, evidenced by the rock star-level of attention the show’s stars attracted on last year’s world tour.

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Against that, there is surely something to be said for the argument that showrunner of Doctor Who is a job which no one should hold for more than a few years, that however brilliant and imaginative the person concerned is there is bound to come a point when their best ideas have been used up and that anything else they produce after three series or so will not top the best of their earlier work.

Discussing possible replacements for Moffat has become a modern-day parlour game for Doctor Who fans and it’s one that we at Kasterborous have been happy to take part in with our Man Who Would Be King series (which will be continuing shortly). British television isn’t short of talented writer-producers and each likely candidate has their supporters, whether it be Moffat’s pal and Sherlock colleague Mark Gatiss (would he want to tie himself down?), regular script writer Gareth Roberts (not as strong as some other names in terms of experience overseeing a series, perhaps), Toby Whithouse (for whom Being Human must have served as excellent preparation should he get the nod) or Howard Overman (who may be feeling at a loose end given that Atlantis won’t be returning?).

So what do you think? Does the prospect of a continued stay for Moffat in the showrunner’s hot seat excite you? Or do you feel we’ve seen the best of what he has to offer the programme and it’s time for a change? Let us know!

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55 Responses

  1. MurrayFutterman says:

    Hmm, more Moffat or Howard Overman? Thank heavens it’s the Beeb who make these decisions and not fans.

  2. The_Mentiad says:

    Yeah that’s ok, I guess, but I wish he would stop writing all the structurally important episodes. I live in fear of his “ludicrous challenge”.

    • Semi-Evil Semi-Genius says:

      I much rather he’d stick with self-contained stories – his best work always is. I like arcs to provide some framework to a season/series, but they should be minimal. Introduce a mystery in the debut, solve it in the finale, and add the most miniscule threads throughout: like a Lost Moon of Poosh type thread; means nothing until later, and has no impact on the flow of a show. The Promised Land plot went nowhere this series.

      • The_Mentiad says:

        I agree. So many things like The Promised Land have gone nowhere. It is all about the build up, and getting people in it seems-actually delivering on the narrative side is secondary. I really don’t know how they get away with some of it, I would have thought that working in such a big team these things are all on the table, but it seems that with all the secrecy around the show it gets written in a bubble. Probably not a good thing. I would rather know about the episode beforehand and it just be its reliable levels of quality that brought people in rather than the socially engineered hype.

  3. Dr. Moo says:

    More Moffat is a no-brainer. Of course he should stay! Let him stick around as long as he likes, he’s the best thing to happen to the show in years with how he fixed the messy Twilighty feel of RTD years.

    • Edward Delingford says:

      Good point. There is no need to reference the RTD era to argue the case for Moffat staying at the helm for a good while longer given that the show is at its creative peak but we should also be thankful for him fixing many of the problems left behind by RTD. A lesser showrunner would have taken the easy way out and continued the lazy twilight-y populist approach and continued to suck the magic out of Who for the sake of ratings. Instead Moffat grabbed the show by the scruff of the neck and took it back to its fundamentals – a alien in a blue box travelling through time and space and having fun while saving worlds. With Capaldi he has seamlessly joined new and classic Who and the show we have now sits beautifully into the whole 50 years. I suspect another show runner without his vision would have driven Who off the air by now or relegated it to Saturday afternoon tele.

  4. Sofa of Reasonable Comfort says:

    INSERT HATEFUL COMMENT HERE

  5. McJohnson says:

    Moffat staying until series ten is good and I’ve loved his era but there comes a point when he will have to call it a day and step down. Series ten might be it. But we’ll see. If he can keep the standard as high as his era has been so far then he can stay for longer and I’ll be happy.

  6. BrittlePacker says:

    If I could think of a universally popular candidate to replace him, I might be disappointed by this news, but there isn’t one that I can see. Moffat taking over from RTD was considered a no-brainer but there’s no standout candidate this time. Also, it felt to me as if he had his focus back on Doctor Who last year – here’s hoping that continues!
    Many of my favourite episodes over the past ten years have been Moffat scripts; he has my gratitude forever for bringing in the current leading man. However, if you’d asked me after Series 7 whether I was happy with his running of the show, I’d have said a definite “no!” Series 8 was, for me personally, a monumental improvement in almost every respect on the previous couple of years. If Series 9 continues in the same vein – roll on Series 10!
    After that, though – I’d hope to see a new showrunner in place with an established Doctor (hopefully the current one!) for Series 11.

    • Ranger says:

      Exactly how I feel Donna. I thought he should step down at the end of series 7, but has redeemed himself with the casting of Capaldi and the generally improved stories of series of 8. If he can replicate another good series, either by writing and/or commissioning good writers and ideas then I’m OK, but he should step down at the end of series 10 to let a fresh new perspective on the show come through.

      • TheLazyWomble says:

        For me, it was series 6 that left me wondering whether Mr Moff knew what he was doing. Well that and 7a. I thought the second half of series 7 was mostly good. At least when they weren’t running around inside the TARDIS or taking children to holiday worlds. I am still in two minds about series 8. I understand that a lot of people love it, and I am extremely glad that they do. I have friends on the fringes of fandom (or just outside) who struggle with the persona of the Twelfth Doctor and did not enjoy series 8. I myself don’t quite know what I think on this issue.
        But the article was about Mr Moff staying on. I am glad that he is and would be happy to see him doing the job while it is a labour of love for him: which, despite my views as above, I do believe that it is. I hope (and trust) that when it starts to become merely another job, he will decide to move on. But not just yet please.

        • Dr. Moo says:

          The thing with series 6 was that it has only really proved itself as good over time with repeat viewings. I love it now but at the time I wasn’t sure. Series 7 was a game of two halves. It shouldn’t have had the Ponds in it. Part 1 was mediocre but ended well whilst part 2 was mostly good with a couple of exceptions but there’s not anything in there that stands out. Series 8 is an example of where every story is either wonderful or woeful with none occupying the middle ground. But when it was good it was REALLY good. Across these seasons are more hits than misses and so my hopes are high for series 9 and now 10 as well.

          • Semi-Evil Semi-Genius says:

            The season should never have been broken up. The Ponds should have exited in season 6, and I liked them. The earlier stories of season 7 could have worked with Clara just fine. She could’ve been developed more, and her Mystery Girl arc fleshed out a bit. And the whole season should’ve been delayed, so that all the stories could have been shaped up more.

          • Dr. Moo says:

            I got the impression that series 7a was just there to make sure Doctor Who in 2012 had something rather than nothing. What we got was very mixed. 7b was much better but still no standout stories. Overall however series 7 was good. Good but not great.

    • Edward Delingford says:

      While I think Capaldi and Moffat have proved with series 8 that they are the best partnership we have ever had, it would also be great to see Capaldi with another showrunner at the helm. His range as an actor is astonishing and to be taken in a different direction could be quite magical. Regardless of who is at the helm we know Capaldi will continue to deliver the goods.

      • Castellan Spandrel says:

        We’ve yet to have a Doctor in the modern series whose era has straddled more than one showrunner (not counting Tennant’s return in Day of the Doctor), so it would be interesting to see what a new one could do with the Capaldi Doctor, what other angles they could bring to his character and the style of storytelling.

        • Dr. Moo says:

          Forget not having that in the new series, we haven’t had that since Tom Baker!

          If Capaldi goes for the traditional three seasons we could be in a repeat of the 2010 scenario as showrunner and lead exit together. Nobody would want that.

          • Semi-Evil Semi-Genius says:

            Why wouldn’t anyone want the showrunner and lead to exit together? Do you think it’d be too rough a switch? Or is it that you mean no one wants to see Capaldi go anytime soon? I’d agree to that, and I’d very much like him to set the record for longest lead so far in New Who. No offense to Eccleston, Tennant, or Smith, but I can see Capaldi shaping up to be one of the strongest actors in the role.

          • Dr. Moo says:

            Practical reasons. Having one leave but not the other still allows for some continuity but together it doesn’t. It can be done but it’s difficult to pull off.

    • Dr. Moo says:

      What he needs is a second person, an equal, to help him reign things in and keep things under control. I’ve loved his era but things like the egg-moon and Cyberbrig are things we can live without. Basically we need a partnership like Letts & Dicks. I love what Moffat’s done with the show going as a soloist but something like this would make it even better.

      Can I nominate Gatiss? I know his Who scripts have been, shall we say, patchy but look at Moffat working with him as an equal on Sherlock and you’ll soon see that it would work brilliantly.

  7. Zachary Mull says:

    The writer of the piece says, “Having just signed up for another year of Doctorr (sic) Who, and with the
    ongoing success of Sherlock, Moffat’s place in the Tardis of
    broadcasting in Wales looks secure.” Moffat himself is not quoted as saying anything about series 10. It’s unclear whether the author referring to series 9 or 10. My guess is she’s referring to series 9 given that this piece is for a wide audience rather than for fans who follow the behind the scenes moves as closely as we do.

    • John Doyle says:

      My thoughts exactly. This should have waited for verification before the bloggers ran with it.

    • K Doctor Who News says:

      I’d like to clarify this: when Zachary refers to “the writer of the piece” he is referencing the original article at WalesOnline.

      With reference to what series is being referred to, we would have taken a more… relaxed view of the report if it concerned Series 9. I’m not going to overstep the mark but we’re confident Moffat will be in charge for Series 10, which of course must already be in the script development stage to be ready for a January 2016 shoot.

      • Zachary Mull says:

        Why would they reference a series that’s not even going to air until late summer 2016 when they haven’t mentioned the one airing this year? More likely its a reference to series 9. Simplest answer is usually correct and all.

        • Castellan Spandrel says:

          Moffat was announced as the new exec and head writer in May 2008, while S4 was still being broadcast and the specials for 2008-9 were being planned and filmed, about a year before filming started on Matt Smith’s first season.

          These things tend to be announced well in advance, so it’d be no surprise if S10 was being referred to already.

          • Zachary Mull says:

            But, this isn’t an announcement. Moffat isn’t quoted saying he’ll be back for series 10 in the article. All of this speculation is about a unclear (and poorly copy edited) sentence that the journalist added to the end of her piece. If he said it, why not quote him? Why not confirm it with him or the BBC later?

          • Dr. Moo says:

            The confirmation I’d expect to see quite soon now that the media has taken that interpretation and ran with it.

  8. itsonlythesoaps says:

    While I’m not in the camp or regime change now, I do want Moffat to leave eventually. I don’t want him to have to be carried out the door, but make the choice himself. Since there isn’t a “clear” replacement person, while doing the next series I hope someone is “brought” up so the adjustment is clean.

    • Semi-Evil Semi-Genius says:

      I think grooming potential candidates is a smart thing to do. But I also think having the control of the show should be a partnership of differing roles: one head writer, and one focusing more on promoting the show and reviewing / vetoing the other’s ideas. People who work well together, have the same tastes, but are fair critics and can tell a partner when an idea doesn’t work.

  9. Doc7 says:

    Is it time for Moffat to move on? No. Don’t be stupid.

    • Castellan Spandrel says:

      Doc7, I’m glad that’s sorted then. Phew!

      Care to tell us why it’s stupid to ask if it’s time for him to move on? Isn’t anyone entitled to ask that question?

      • Doc7 says:

        Who can replace him? Who can reach the same standards? No-one at the moment.

        It ain’t broke so don’t fix it.

        • Castellan Spandrel says:

          Fair enough re: ‘if it ain’t broke’, (though I’m not convinced that S8 was all that), not so sure about ‘no one at the moment’.

          The exec/head writer’s post is being seen by many as a job that no one else can do. In effect, it’s tantamount to saying that only Steven Moffat can do the job, that’s it’s unimaginable for Doctor Who to continue without him. How does anyone know this? I think we won’t know if it’s true or not until someone else does it and we see the results.

          There are plenty of creative, professional people working in modern television who may prove capable of taking over the Who role successfully. I won’t list them, as they’ve been pored over in several other threads on here and elsewhere.

          At some point, Steven Moffat will go. If no one else is available at that time who can reach the ‘required’ standards, does that mean the series will end?

          Those questions aren’t aimed squarely at you, by the way, Doc7 – just generalising here.

        • Dr. Moo says:

          I see what you’re saying there but I think that the issue is not that no-one can replace him but that there’s no obvious possible successors who can keep it at a decent standard. It looked, to some, like things would get worse after RTD left but then the opposite happened. We could see that repeated in the future (series 11?) but for now Moffat will be sticking around. He knows what he’s doing so until the right person’s in place he won’t budge.

  10. Mrs Fingerbottom says:

    I’m happy that he’s staying but that should be it. “[Moffat’s] song must end soon.”

  11. Calli Arcale says:

    I see no reason for him to step down, unless he’s getting exhausted and that’s his own business. He’s obviously successful, and hey, JNT was at the reigns for a full decade spanning four different Doctors, so why not? 😉

  12. Planet of the Deaf says:

    Jonathan, I suspect Hull City will be after a new boss well before Doctor Who 🙂

  13. Namnoot says:

    Long as he keeps up the good work, I’ve no objection. JNT stayed too long and as a result things started to become stale (though things picked up near the end as the series entered the “we’re doomed anyway so let’s experiment” mentality that made Season 26 arguably the most interesting season in more than a decade). For all his “I have no idea how to write my way out of this” swagger, Moffat plays the long game. I’m certain he knows exactly how and when Capaldi will regenerate. If he’s staying on another year I would think the speculation should turn to whether Capaldi is going to stay beyond Series 10. Moffat will quit when it stops being fun and when he doesn’t have any more ideas and as long as the BBC allows him the flexibility to work on other projects like Sherlock. I believe RTD quit when he did because doors were opening for him to do projects like Cucumber, otherwise I bet he would have stayed (as indeed he did, technically, by continuing to work on Torchwood and if Lis Sladen hadn’t died he’d probably still be producing Sarah Jane Adventures and Capaldi would have done a crossover by now.

  14. Edward Delingford says:

    Why should he step down? After the huge success of the 5)th anniversary which he oversaw and the fantastic decision to cast Capaldi, we have just emerged from a series which showed Moffat as being re-energised and right on top of his creative game. After all, he contributed great episodes last year, one of which, Listen, is already down as one of the greatest in all of Who history, he supported other writers, developed a brilliant story arc around Missy, brought even greater international success with the world tour and clearly is still fizzing with creativity and excitement for the show. On top of this, we have some of the best ratings since 2005 including the many tens of thousands around the world who watched Day of the Doctor or Deep Breath.
    I did find series 7B a bit of a slump but boy oh boy, the anniversary year and series 8 showed that Moffat is back at the top of his game, matching the brilliance of series 5. Kind of like a renaissance period.
    More than happy for him to stay as long as we continue to get top quality writing, brilliant acting, great story arcs and most of all, the great partnership with Capaldi which has propelled Who back to the forefront of British television.
    I continue to be astounded by Moffat’s talent – not only helming Who which is at the greatest it has been since 2005 but also the phenomenal Sherlock. Love him or loathe him, you certainly can’t say he is stale and uncommitted!

  15. bar says:

    Showrunner has to be able – no, gifted – at the task of keeping Who in the news, wooing new, huge, worldwide audiences, and feeding the fans’ insatiable appetite while there’s no new stories on screen. Moff is supreme at this, witness current discussion, and thousands like it.
    What will decide his moving on, I hope, is when that task interferes with his creativity or his family. His other family, obviously – the fun he’s having with the Whovian family and it’s new star is a delight, and I’m sure a major part of his refreshed zeal.

  16. True 9th says:

    Why the EXPLETIVE should he move on before there’s a suitable replacement?

  17. zurufru says:

    It’s definitely time for a change! Last season was boring and IMHO quite childish… I’m a little anxious to watch the 9th…I hope it will be better than the 8th. I miss stories like The Empy child, Silence of the library, Blink… Those were amazing these are worthless…

    • Castellan Spandrel says:

      I agree a bit with you, Zurufru. I enjoyed S8 as pure entertainment, bar Forest of the Night and parts of Kill the Moon.

      But apart from Flatline and maybe Mummy, none of them were up to the level of the episodes you’ve listed.

      I like the casting of a much older actor as the Doctor, the shift away from the companion as an object of flirtation for the Doctor (though that also happened with Donna Noble). However, the excitement of the best of the Eccleston/Tennant episodes has largely been missing and I’m not totally sold on the 12th Doctor yet. I seem to be in a minority there.

      • bar says:

        minorities are good. though Capaldi is doing his best to drag me away from Audio McGann.
        and it’s no coincidence that the three CE/DT stories were Moff’s, the two S8 were JM’s.
        maybe showrunning is distracting him form story-making.

      • Semi-Evil Semi-Genius says:

        I like the Twelfth quite a bit; he seems to carry some of the more mediocre stories. I don’t get the rough or unfriendly criticisms; he may act jerk-ish at times, but it’s clear he cares. And he even softened up as the series progressed. But I agree, he could get better in the role – most Doctors do.

  18. Grumpy The Unicorn says:

    well if MOffat drops dead of a squeeninja cardiac some lonely night slaving at the desk, I would love to see Toby Whithouse take over… or Gatiss. 😉 or… Neil Gaiman. Wibble cry scream. Because Sandman.and Lucifer. sadly Gaiman will probably never happen. SADENESS.

  19. Joe Siegler says:

    “Isn’t It Time to Move On?”

    No. I want him to break JNT’s record.

  20. drno says:

    It’s a romantic dramedy now, has been for years since it came back. I would like to hope it will return to form, but Moffat knows what’s he’s doing with this fluff, and he get’s off on all the complaints. He does look tired though 🙂

  21. PaulAspel says:

    I’ve enjoyed a lot of Moffats era but its time (for me) for a change of focus back to the Doctor. it really feels to me that the Doctor is secondary to the companions, i believe its why Clara has become so tedious to many fans after such a bright start for that Character. for me Doctor Who should be about the Doctor primarily, I love strong and complitent companions, even equals, but its the Doctors reactions I’m intersted in, thats why I’ve watched the show for the last40 something years. it felt to me reflection back on Matt Smiths era that the show was primarily the love story of Amy and Rory and the Doctor was the McGuffin holding all together.

    • Ranger says:

      Totally agree Paul. It’s what’s been wrong since 2005 – the Doctor is not the central character, it’s all emotional angst stuff about the companions.

  22. Spacedog2k5 says:

    Moff has had his run, good and bad, but really, he’s become like a dinosaur that keeps missing it’s assigned asteroid! He’s definitely on his way to becoming the next JNT (and we all know how *that* turned out!)..

  23. farsighted says:

    Moffat writes great stories, but sometimes they aren’t so great. Just like RTD did during his tenure. When he leaves Doctor Who he won’t have trouble finding a new place to hang his hat. I think Steven Spielberg would love to have him back. Honestly, you should enjoy him while he’s here… whomever comes after him (if there is anyone) will probably not be able to fill those two guy’s shoes…

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