Whilst there’s no series of Doctor Who this year, Chris Chibnall and his team are busy working on a fantastic somophore season for Jodie Whittaker and the Thirteenth Doctor for 2020. Whilst her first season wasn’t perfect (I’m looking at you Tsuranga Conundrum) it was a great series overall and the viewing figures have spoken- Doctor Who is a household name again and is dominating the pop culture discussion once again. It is a great time to be a Doctor Who fan, as for the first time in years the average person on the street might know what you’re talking about and the quality of stories have reflected the level of attention the series is now getting (not you Pting). Chibnall’s all-new writing team were great and actually better than the man himself- I wouldn’t mind any of them returning, which leads me to this post. Here are twelve writers I would love to see write for Series 12 and make the next season as good as possible-
- Toby Whithouse
Would I really say no to the writer of my favourite Doctor Who story returning? Toby Whithouse is a Who veteran, first contributing the amazing Series 2 story School Reunion which still holds up as the strongest story from that series. His main contributions were to the Eleventh Doctor era, where his vision of the Doctor as a dark, mythical figure cropped up first in the underrated Vampires of Venice and then the magnum opus of the entire show, The God Complex, which masterfully deconstructed then reconstructed who the Doctor is. A Town Called Mercy and the Fisher King two parter are both great too, and whilst Lie of the Land was incredibly… not good I can’t really blame that entirely on him due to the difficult behind the scenes circumstances surrounding that arc. In short, any season without Whithouse is poorer off without him and his idea of the Doctor is one that I support 100%. I would have preferably wanted him as showrunner but if that’s not the case, another story would do just fine. Whithouse is a master of genre storytelling and is one of the finest writers this show has had and Lie of the Land is such a poor way to end a fantastic collection of stories.
- Jamie Matheison
Jamie Matheison was one of the few consistently good writers to come from the Twelfth Doctor era. In Series 8, a series that struggled to give identity to its leads, Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline combined great characterisation with fun plots and engaging narratives. He even made Clara a good lead character. Let me repeat that… he made Clara tolerable. His writing of the Twelfth Doctor was also really strong and gave the incarnation an identity that others promptly forgot in favour of writing an older, less interesting and less funny Eleventh Doctor. Sadly this characterisation seeped into his next story, The Girl Who Died, but as a Moffat co-write it’s hard to pinpoint exactly who did what. Something tells me the bizarre tone and confused morals were at odds with Matheison’s original vision. Fortunately he bounced back with the superlative Oxygen in Series 10, a stellar base under siege story that gave Series 10 its first true classic and stands as one of the finest outings for the Twelfth Doctor. Why didn’t Matheison write The Tsuranga Conundrum? I know he was asked to return but declined, and I hope he changes his mind.
- Sarah Dollard
The other consistently good writer of the Twelfth Doctor era. When your first script calls for you to kill of the companion (and actually make me care for Clara “Look at me I’m so cool” Oswald) and you do that with skill and a fascinating mystery plot, then you’ve done a good job. Whilst all of Sarah Dollard’s good work on Face the Raven was undone two episodes later that’s hardly her fault and her second story Thin Ice was a fantastic historical adventure with strong characterisation that established a clear dynamic between the new TARDIS team. What Dollard is good at is strong character work with compelling settings (Trap Street, the frost fair) and she has proven to be able to write two very different pitches. A sign of a good writer is when they are able to adapt to whatever they’ve been given, whether it’s kill the companion or write the first historical of the series. In the Capaldi era it was a minor miracle to have writers that both understood the Doctor and wrote interesting stories for him to be in and any writer that can make me like Clara is good in my books. Once again I think she was asked by Chibnall to return and like Matheison I hope she picks on the offer again.
- Rob Shearman
Whilst Rob Shearman has only given the television show one story back in 2005, that one story is one of the most highly regarded stories in Doctor Who’s long history. Dalek is the finest hour of the Ninth Doctor’s short but sweet run and the dialogue, story and subtext is truly brilliant. Sherman takes a good, long look at the show’s past and uses the Time War as a metaphor for the cancellation for the Classic Series, using the sole Time Lord and Dalek as a way to question how the new version of the show can survive and whether or not they are relevant in a new age. This absolutely phenomenal piece of television would be good enough to warrant a return, but Shearman is also one of Big Finish’s finest writers. He is responsible for the greatest Eighth Doctor story, The Chimes of Midnight, and Jubilee is quite possibly my favourite Sixth Doctor and Dalek story, using the Daleks to examine how the Nazis were commercialised after World War II. Any Colin Baker holdouts should give this a listen. Scherzo is a truly bizarre story that can only work on Big Finish and Shearman also wrote audios about Frobisher, the shape shifting penguin who is proof that nothing is too weird for Doctor Who. The fandom’s been saying it for a while- Bring. Back. Shearman.
- Malorie Blackman
Guest writers have often given us some of the best stories such as Matt Jones with the Beast two parter, James Moran with The Fires of Pompeii, Keith Temple with Planet of the Ood, Simon Nye with Amy’s Choice and Richard Curtis with Vincent and the Doctor. Malorie Blackman joins that list with Rosa, one of the best episodes of Series 11. Whilst none of those other writers have returned I would love to see Blackman come back as she has written for the franchise before writing a television episode. Her Seventh Doctor short story The Ripple Effect is a fascinating take on the Daleks and shows she can tackle sci-fi and history. Of all the writers she handled the large ensemble cast the best and her writing is effective in tackling heavy subject matter and make it appropriate for the show. Of course there’s every possibility that she’ll only do one story and that’s fine, but I don’t want to live in a world where Steve Thompson, a generally mediocre writer whose only good script was a co-write, and Peter Harness, whose first episode was so bad Moffat had to course correct his others, were given more episodes than Malorie Blackman so I hope Chibnall at least asks her to come back. Doctor Who is at its best when it is allowed to go in truly unique and interesting directions and Blackman is the perfect writer to do that.
- Paul Cornell
Paul Cornell is responsible for the finest story in the entirety of the Russel T Davies era- Human Nature/The Family of Blood. It is to this day in my top five stories that the show’s ever done and Father’s Day, Cornell’s Series 1 debut is an underrated gem that is one of the most emotional and raw stories that the show has ever done. Cornell is a master of character and wrenching emotion out of science fiction concepts. What if you could save a family member you barely knew and wanted more time with? What if an ageless being became human? It’s simple but brilliant ideas like that make me so confused as to why Cornell has never been back since Series 3. Just imagine a script by him in Chibnall’s run- he’s already done a great job of grounding and humanising the show as well as restoring it back to basics so a well told character piece like Father’s Day would fit right in. Cornell’s one-two punch makes him one of the most consistently brilliant writers who has written for the show and I can guarantee that the whole fandom awaits the day he returns to write another powerhouse episode. Who wouldn’t want to see Jodie Whittaker in her own “Fury of a Time Lord” scene or have a moment as wonderful as Pete Tyler’s sacrifice? I know I want moments like that.
- Derek Landy
The first writer on this list to have not actually written for the show and a very obvious choice for anyone familiar with my series on Skulduggery Pleasant. Derek Landy is- simply put- awesome. His writing style is simple but brilliant and in two great book series he has crafted compelling worlds, multi-layered characters and enough action scenes to make a film director wish they could bring the insanity of his stories to life. Will Chibnall be able to persuade him though? Probably. Landy has gushed about his love for Doctor Who and even wrote a short story for the Tenth Doctor in the 50th anniversary e-book collection. That short story is awesome and if Malorie Blackman can be promoted to TV writer then so should the writer who brought the immortal line “The sparrow flies south for winter” to life. Landy balances humour, heart, compelling narratives, action, monsters, thrills and scares together- all requirements to create a great Doctor Who episode. I don’t think “written by Derek Landy” will get the same level of attention as “written by Neil Gaiman” or “written by Malorie Blackman” but for a fan like me it’ll be the greatest news ever. What story would he do? Probably a story with a snarky guy with a hat and gun. Perhaps he could bring the show to Ireland. Whatever he has in store, I’ll be happy.
- Marc Platt
Rona Munro successfully bridged the gap between the Classic series and the revival with The Eaters of Light, a very traditional episode that is a lot cleverer than most people give it credit for. Season 26 is a perfect run of Doctor Who and the highlight is Marc Platt’s genius Ghost Light, one of my all time favourite Doctor Who stories. Platt wrote such an amazing and unique story that any follow up might feel underwhelming even 30 thirty years on but his other work for the Whoniverse has created a brilliant line up of stories. I’d love to see a Cyberman story by him as Spare Parts (an influence on both Rise of the Cybermen and World Enough and Time) and The Silver Turk are fascinating takes on the monster that we don’t get enough of. He is an incredibly prolific Big Finish writer who has given audio Who many great stories and whilst I’ve heard he disliked the 45 minute format when the show returned I think the show’s changed enough under Chibnall that I hope Platt can be persuaded back. He wrote quite possibly the most marmite story of Classic Who and whilst his writing isn’t for everyone a follow-up, written for a larger audience and a bigger budget, could go even more bonkers and weird as Ghost Light, still the story to beat for haunted house stories in Doctor Who.
- Edgar Wright
Of all the writers on this list, this is the least likely to happen. Edgar Wright is one of my absolute favourite filmmakers and is responsible for my all-time favourite film, The World’s End (yes, the list I made last year is already outdated. Sorry Peter Jackson, but a recent rewatch confirmed who’s King) and to see his unique style applied to my favourite show would be a dream come true. I’ve read that RTD actually wanted to hire Wright to direct the opening block of episodes (Rose and the Slitheen two parter) but Wright was too busy editing Shaun of the Dead. Could the behind the scenes tensions that led to Christopher Eccleston leaving have been avoided if Wright had directed? Would the satire of the Slitheen story been better handled? On the plus side we got Shaun of the Dead so I’m not complaining. Even without his co-writing genius Simon Pegg Wright can still produce a great film like Baby Driver or Scott Pilgrim and if Chibnall is lucky enough to get a script I would love to see Wright direct the episode as well. If we can get the architect of the Cornetto Trilogy perhaps we can have Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reappear in the show. Don’t get me wrong, they were good in their episodes but both of them, especially Frost, were wasted in lackluster scripts, although I enjoy The Long Game purely for Pegg’s hugely entertaining Editor. In short, I don’t care how Chibnall does it, I want Edgar Wright in that writer’s room.
- Neil Gaiman
In 2011, the only thing I’d ever been aware Neil Gaiman had done was Coraline. After his masterful Who debut The Doctor’s Wife I slowly but surely absorbed all things Gaiman. Whilst I will admit Nightmare in Silver is probably the weakest thing he’s ever done that still doesn’t stop Gaiman from being one of the best writers working today and I actually still really enjoy that episode. His stories are imaginative, bold and brilliant- perfectly suited to Doctor Who. The one thing stopping him would probably be budget- a typical Gaiman story is insanely over the top and The Doctor’s Wife only just fitted into his auteur style with the budget of the BBC. Chibnall’s era has made the show look less BBC and more Netflix but it still has limits- Gaiman is at his best when he has no limits. Regardless, a third script by Gaiman would be very much welcome as I think his imagination is endless. I think a story involving the Great Old Ones like the Animus or Fenric would be awesome to see under Gaiman and to be honest I think he’d be a great show runner for after Chibnall leaves. As I’ve mentioned before Doctor Who is at its best when the imaginations of the writers are allowed to go wild, and few writers are as imaginative as Gaiman. I know he wants to return and I hope he does, as his writing is truly brilliant.
- Vinay Patel
Series 11 gave us several outstanding historicals, and Demons of the Punjab was my favourite of the three we got, although it was a tough crowd. What could’ve fallen flat on its face ended being a multi-layered and touching story about human emotion and a commentary on how Britain does not teach the Partition of India as part of history, with Patel using the Thijarians to comment on that. The script is funny, heartfelt, moving and character driven in a way few episodes are and it’s already being heralded as a classic. Will Patel be able to follow up on that? I have faith he can. I’d like to see him tackle a story with the assassin based Thijarians that the ones in Demons were set up as being, or alternatively I’d like Patel to be the writer to finally bring the pure historical back to Doctor Who. It’s been too long since we’ve had one and they were always the highlights of the Hartnell era, with Big Finish proudly continuing the tradition with many of their best stories. Of course we’ll have the crowd who wants action and sci fi instead of history but they clearly are not aware of the show’s fundamental concept as a historical based series. Let’s give Vinay Patel another shot at writing a story with no sci fi and see what period of history he’ll tackle next.
- Ed Hime
Ed Hime- is- a- genius. Simply put. It Takes You Away is the kind of episode that only comes about every so often- we’re talking a Waters of Mars, an Amy’s Choice, a Heaven Sent- an episode that demonstrates why Doctor Who is the greatest TV show of all time. In one 50 minute episode Hime dissects the very nature of Doctor Who and narrative, exploring a multi-faceted and complex look at grief and the human condition whilst presenting the audience with a million ideas that all click. This is a story that starts off as a Norwegian Stranger Things then evolves into a bonkers story about a sentient universe looking for company who uses the ideas of human grief to try and become part of a universe that rejected it, with an interlude involving flesh eating moths and a climax that involves Jodie Whittaker talking to a frog with the voice of Grace. It’s just… spellbinding drama, and my second favourite Doctor Who story of all time following The God Complex. With this mighty episode, Ed Hime joins the pantheon of phenomenal guest writers and it’s already been somewhat confirmed he’s writing for Series 12 so- yes. Yes to everything.
Oh, and one more-
- Stephen King
I mean, it’s never gonna happen*, but it’ll be fun to imagine what a Stephen King episode would be like wouldn’t it?
So those are twelve writers I would love to see write for Series 12. I hope Chibnall himself takes a backseat as whilst I enjoy his scripts he is a better showrunner and character writer than as an episode writer. His ability to choose strong guest writers is one of the best aspects of his era so far so let’s hope he takes a peek at this list.
*If this does impossibly does happen, just remember that I called it first.