Russell T Davies is returning as the Doctor Who showrunner in a bid to save the show amid falling ratings – 12 years after he stepped away from the series.
The 58-year-old screenwriter was responsible for bringing the sci-fi series back to screens in 2005 and he will return to helm the programme following the departure of current showrunner Chris Chibnall and Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker.
Russell will be responsible for overseeing Doctor Who when it celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2023 and beyond.
Exciting! Russell T Davies is returning as the Doctor Who showrunner – 12 years after he stepped away from the series
Speaking about his sensational return, Russell said: ‘I’m beyond excited to be back on my favourite show.
‘But we’re time-travelling too fast, 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 – I’m still a viewer for now.’
Commenting on Russell’s appointment, Chibnall said: ‘It’s monumentally exciting and fitting that Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary will see one of Britain’s screenwriting diamonds return home.
‘Russell built the baton that is about to be handed back to him – ‘Doctor Who’, the BBC, the screen industry in Wales, and let’s be honest everyone in the whole world, have so many reasons to be very excited indeed about what lies ahead.’
Iconic: The 58-year-old screenwriter was responsible for bringing the sci-fi series back to screens in 2005 and he will return to helm the programme following the departure of current showrunner Chris Chibnall and Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker (pictured)
Upcoming: Russell will succeed Chris Chibnall (pictured) who departs next year
After bringing Doctor Who back to the BBC – 16 years after it was cancelled in 1989 – with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor, Russell is credited with propelling the show into a global phenomenon and making it one of TV’s biggest hits.
He replaced Eccleston with Tenth Doctor David Tennant and also created two successful spin off series, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures – which saw Elisabeth Sladen reprise her role as the beloved titular companion who travelled with Third Doctor Jon Pertwee and Fourth Doctor Tom Baker in the 1970s.
After departing the TARDIS in 2009, Russell has created some of the most acclaimed dramas on TV, including Years and Years, A Very English Scandal and It’s a Sin.
Goodbye: Chris and Jodie (pictured) announced they will leave Doctor Who in a trio of Specials, culminating in an epic blockbuster Special to air in Autumn 2022 as part of the BBC’s Centenary celebrations
Star: After departing the TARDIS in 2009, Russell has created some of the most acclaimed dramas on TV, including Years and Years, A Very English Scandal and It’s a Sin (pictured with Olly Alexander at the NTAs after their win for the show)
The later – which starred Olly Alexander – focused on the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and recently won Best New Drama at the National TV Awards.
It was reported in January that there has been a fall in Doctor Who viewership, which has been declining for five years.
It was reported that Jodie and showrunner Chris had attracted just half the audience during their paring compared to what the Russell-led, David Tennant-fronted version of the show did.
The Telegraph reported at the beginning of the year that episodes were drawing in fewer than 5million viewers. The paper added that such numbers are ‘not dissimilar to when the show was axed in 1989’.
In comparison, more than 10million viewers watched David Tennant’s Doctor Who finale in 2010, according to The Guardian.
However, episode Can You Hear Me? saw just 3.81 million viewers tuning in on the over-night ratings, which – according to website Cosmic Book News – was a 22% decrease since the first episode of Season 12, which aired ten months earlier.
And in figures released in March 2020, the same month the series ended, Doctor Who’s ratings slipped to its lowest since the show made a comeback in 2005.
The season finale of series 12 had a total TV audience of 4.6million, making it the lowest Doctor Who has ever had. The previous all-time low was 4.7million in 2017.
Series 12 saw an average viewership of 5.4million.
Speaking about Russell’s return, Piers Wenger, BBC Director of Drama, said: ‘As the Thirteenth Doctor prepares to embark on new and extraordinary adventures, the winds of change are blowing … bringing with them news to 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. Thank you to the two of them and the team in Cardiff for all they continue to do for the show and hello Russell, it’s wonderful to have you back.’
Back in July Jodie confirmed she wouldn’t be returning for another series after three seasons on the show.
Several names have since been suggested to be the next star to take over the Tardis.
Bookmakers Ladbrokes placed Olly Alexander at the forefront with 3/1, I May Destroy You star Michaela Coel with odds of 5/1, followed by Richard Ayoade and Kris Marshall, both with 6/1, and Fleabag actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
In May, It’s A Sin actor and Years And Years hitmaker Olly hit headlines with speculation about him taking the role of the Doctor.
He revealed he would love to replace Jodie as the next Doctor Who, but remained coy over whether or not he has been formally approached.
The singer and actor, 30, has become a household name thanks to his starring role in the Russell’s show It’s A Sin, Channel 4’s hard-hitting drama about the AIDS epidemic and its devastating impact on the gay community.
Impressive: After bringing Doctor Who back to the BBC – 16 years after it was cancelled in 1989 – with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor, Russell is credited with propelling the show into a global phenomenon and making it one of TV’s biggest hits
He has since been mooted as a potential replacement for Jodie, with Russell – who worked closely with him on the six-part show – admitting he would be a perfect fit.
Asked if he had been approached during a remote appearance on Capital Breakfast, Alexander said: ‘I mean, if I was do you think I’d be able to tell you? It’s true I am very indiscreet but my lips are sealed.’
The star would become the fourteenth Doctor should he replace Whittaker when she finally leaves, and he admitted it would be a ‘dream role’ if it did actually happen.
‘I think it would be amazing,’ he said. ‘It’s an amazing role, and an amazing show.’
While Michaela’s name has been in the ring ever since whispers of Jodie’s departure began at the start of the year and the rumours are growing increasingly feverish.
New Doctor? Olly Alexander (left) and Richard Ayoade (right) have been tipped as potential replacements for Jodie on the show
In January, Alex Apati of Ladbrokes predicted of the replacement: ‘Jodie Whittaker’s time in the TARDIS will be coming to an end and as things stand it’s Michaela Coel who looks most likely to replace her.’
The casting would be yet another string in I Will Destroy You star Michaela’s bow, as she is also a screenwriter, director, producer and singer.
And IT Crowd star RIchard Ayoade, 43, is not far behind Michaela in the odds as he looks to add to his impressive CV, which not only comprises acting but also hosting.
Stepping in? Bookmakers Ladbrokes placed Olly Alexander at the forefront with 3/1, I May Destroy You star Michaela Coel with odds of 5/1 (pictured in June)
In a poll by Metro, 38% revealed they would like to see Richard as the Doctor earlier this year and he has speculation rising among superfans.
The news that Jodie was bowing out of the series left Doctor Who fans devastated, with many rushing to Twitter to share their sadness.
One explained: ‘JODIE WHITTAKER IS LEAVING DOCTOR WHO I WANT TO CRY,’ while another added: ‘Jodie Whittaker is leaving Doctor Who and I am going to be sad about this all year.’
New gig? Jodie Comer is another name in the running for the high-profile role in the BBC show
Jodie will first appear in the thirteenth season of Doctor Who – set to air later this year – and then in the first special, tipped to hit screens on New Year’s Day 2022.
A second special will air in spring 2022, with Jodie’s final, feature-length appearance as the Doctor – in which she will regenerate – arriving in autumn 2022 as part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations.
Of her time on the show, Jodie said: ‘In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them.
‘My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life.
‘And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories.’
She added: ‘We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had.
‘I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.’
Jodie concluded: ‘I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly.’
The BBC have said that plans for the new generation of Doctor Who will be announced ‘in due course’.
As the first woman to play the iconic role, Jodie has thrilled audiences with her portrayal of the Time Lord, winning the hearts of Doctor Who fans across the globe.
In 2020, Jodie was voted 2nd Most Popular Doctor of all time, coming within a whisker of her friend David Tennant, in a poll of more than 50,000 fans for Radio Times.
Big news: The BBC have said that plans for the new generation of Doctor Who will be announced ‘in due course’
Who is odds-on to replace Jodie as Doctor Who?
According to Ladbrokes.co.uk, these are the favourites to succeed Jodie into the Tardis…
OLLY ALEXANDER – 3/1
The It’s A Sin actor and Years And Years hitmaker, 30, has already said he’d love to take over the Tardis.
KRIS MARSHALL – 6/1
Kris, 47, was widely rumoured to be the 13th Doctor back in 2017 – could 2021 be the year he finally steps into the Tardis?
JODIE COMER – 10/1
The Killing Eve star, 27, who has picked up an Emmy and a BAFTA thus far, is also one of the top names.
REECE SHEARSMITH – 12/1
The League of Gentleman actor, 51, is currently an outside bet for the role.
MICHAELA COEL – 5/1
Michaela, 33, won acclaim for her BAFTA-winning role in Chewing Gum and BBC/HBO drama, I May Destroy You – making her the hot favourite.
RICHARD AYOADE – 6/1
The IT Crowd star, 43, is not far behind Michaela as he looks to add to his impressive CV.
PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE – 8/1
The much-decorated Fleabag and Killing Eve is among the favourites for the role.
JOHN BOYEGA – 10/1
The Star Wars actor, 28, has previously starred alongside current Time Lord Jodie in Attack the Block and branded her performance ‘brilliant.’
Doctor Who? All the actors who have played the Time Lord
The BBC’s hit Sci-fi show Doctor Who was first launched by the BBC in 1963. It chronicles the journey of a Time Lord called ‘The Doctor’.
He is first introduced after fleeing his home planet, Gallifrey.
The Doctor travels through time and space in his spaceship, called a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), which resembles a police box.
During his travels, The Doctor meets people and invites them to voyage with him. They are known as his companions.
He also encounters several evil beings, such as Daleks and Cyberman, and is forced to defeat them sing minimal resources, such as his Sonic Screwdriver, as they try to destroy or take over other planets, including Earth.
As a Time Lord, The Doctor has the capacity to regenerate when he is wounded or dying. After regenerating, he takes on a new appearance and personality.
The concept of regenerating was added into the series after the First Doctor, William Hartnell, became ill and stepped down from his role.
The first run of Doctor Who ended in 1989 before being revived in 2005 with Christopher Ecclestone as the Ninth Doctor.
Below is the full list of the actors who have been cast as the Doctor from 1963 to 2017 – when Jodie Whittaker took over the coveted role.
Starting the legacy: The First Doctor William Hartnell (1963-1966)
Second and Third: Patrick Troughton (1966–1969) and Jon Pertwee (1970–1974)
Fourth and Fifth: Tom Baker (1974–1981) and Peter Davison (1981–1984)
Sixth and Seventh: Colin Baker (1984–1986) and Sylvester McCoy (1987–1989, 1996)
Eighth and Ninth: Paul McGann (1996) and Christopher Eccleston (2005)
Tenth and Eleventh: David Tennant (2005-2010) and Matt Smith (2010-2013)
Twelfth: Peter Capaldi (2013 – 2017)