Chris Chibnall has purged Moffat’s writers. Is this good?

Chris Chibnall has released the names of the writers and directors who’ve been working on Series 11. They are:

Writers

  • Malorie Blackman (Noughts and CrossesPig-Heart Boy)
  • Ed Hime (SkinsThe Incomplete Recorded Works of a Dead Body)
  • Vinay Patel (Murdered By My Father)
  • Pete McTighe (Wentworth)
  • Joy Wilkinson (The Life and Adventures of Nick Nickleby)

Directors

  • Sallie Aprahamian (Extremely DangerousThe SinsReal Men, etc.)
  • Jamie Childs
  • Jennifer Perrott (The Ravens)
  • Mark Tonderai (The FiveImpulseLuciferGothamHouse at the End of the Street, etc.)

To be honest I don’t recognise any of these names. Apart from Chris Chibnall himself, none of these names have worked on Doctor Who before. Evidently Chibnall has chosen to spurn Moffat’s stable of regular writers and directors (Sarah Dollard, Jamie Mathieson, Toby Whithouse, Rachel Talalay, etc.) for an all-new troupe. He seems to be intending on making a clean break from the Moffat era with a completely fresh ensemble of voices, talents and styles.

I can see reasons alternately to be excited and disappointed by such a decision. For one, a clean break and a fresh start after eight years of Steven Moffat’s version of Doctor Who is always going to be welcome. Staleness has always been Doctor Who’s bane, and a completely new lineup of writers and directors can’t help but reinvigorate and inject a much-needed dose of freshness into the show. I’m also always interested in seeing how Doctor Who is interpreted by new writers and directors who’ve never worked on the show before, and, under the influence of a new showrunner who seems keen do things differently, there are the makings of what could be a very creative and original series of Doctor Who.

On the other hand, I’m disappointed to see that some of the best talents unearthed by Steven Moffat recently — namely Jamie Mathieson, Sarah Dollard, Peter Harness, Toby Whithouse, Rachel Talalay, Daniel Nettheim — have not been asked to return for Series 11. It’s all very well wanting to make a clean break with your predecessor’s era, but when you have Jamie Mathieson at your disposal, eager to write for you, why in time and space would you turn him down? A new troupe of writers may well make for a fresh new Who, but it’s always going to be a risk entrusting your first series as showrunner to people who, while they may be highly accomplished in their own work, have never written for Doctor Who before and are therefore basically wildcards. Because Doctor Who isn’t like any other show, and writing for Doctor Who is different from writing for any other show.

If I were in Chibnall’s place, I’d have asked back at least one of Moffat’s writers, probably Jamie Mathieson — who is simply too good to turn down that I’m still floored as to why he wasn’t asked back — so I knew I had at least one experienced set of writing chops on board whom I knew I could rely on to turn in a competent Doctor Who script or two. Chibnall must know that there’s a lot riding on the first “female Doctor Who” series, so he must be quite confident that it’s not all going to be an unmitigated disaster if he hasn’t brought any of Moffat’s people back.

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