I’m writing this the day before we find out who the next Doctor is… Good luck to them.
Let’s propose I’ve been handed the reins of Doctor Who. A complete fresh start. I’m the new showrunner, with a new Doctor, new companion, and everything decided by me. This is what Chibnall has got, and it’s what Moffat was gifted for 2010. What would I do to shake things up? Well…
Let’s start with MY Doctor. Adrian Lester is my choice for the top job. Best known for playing Mickey Bricks in Hustle, a con man with a perfect blend of charm, wit and drama. His Doctor I can see as a ‘Bond’ Doctor, not as forthcoming as Bond but playing a reserved, eccentric mix, imagine Pertwee with a dash of Tennant. The new face of The Doctor is basically just his character in Hustle, maybe a bit more Shakespearean. Costuming him in a standard dress shirt and tie, a dark velvet waistcoat of various colours, with a light blazer-esc coat over the top. A short red scarf too as an accessory. Simple, effective, easy to cosplay. A dash of McCoy, Davison, and Capaldi.
I’ve never put too much thought into actors for companions, it’d be an open audition to find the right people for the job once characters are written. Yeah I said it, PEOPLE. A three person TARDIS team, one male companion and one female. The male would be from the past. Classic Who did this with Stephen Taylor (companion to William Hartnell) and that’s the sort I’d pitch for. The female I’m thinking far future Earth colony type, clever though lacking in confidence. And they’d be ‘live in’ companions. None of this part time hobby companions we’ve had with Amy/Rory/Clara/Bill and basically every companion since 2011.
The logo… I’m gonna go right in and revert to the most well known. The left picture above is the logo used on all merchandise that isn’t the current era. So it’d be much easier if the current era followed suite. None of this taxi lamp spinning logo or DW insignia that looks a bit like a TARDIS. Stacked logos work better. Can I write a whole theme with just the middle eight? Or at least bring back the sodding middle eight to the main theme. My titles would be the TARDIS spinning through the vortex, I like the ideas used in the Tennant era titles but they’re too flat. Mix that with the space exploration feel from McCoy’s titles and it’s perfect.
Incidental music is a tricky one. Murray Gold has done everything since 2005, and that seems like enough. I love Murray’s music for the show and it can be great, but he’s as subtle as dropping a piano down the stairs. Blair Mowat gave a good attempt on Class and has done solid work on Big Finish’s Torchwood range. I’d hire him and quietly shuffle Murray out but keep his orchestral style.
We open on the freshly regenerated Lester Doctor, he pilots the TARDIS to a space station in the future. Human colony under attack, sent a distress call and they had the misfortune to get a Doctor so soon after regeneration. Because he’s still disoriented he lets his defences down and the alien (new race probably) damages the TARDIS. It can no longer be accurately flown. Bringing back the Classic vibe of the TARDIS always being a clumsy force and Doctor never knowing where he’ll end up, flying the TARDIS by running around, falling over and smacking the console. He saves the day, picks up a companion from the space station and off he goes for adventures. TARDIS takes them to the past in the next episode and they’d get the male companion joining them.
In terms of writers I’d give first priority to the greats of NewWho, if Moffat came to me with a single uncomplicated story script I’d let him have it. Robert Shearman, Paul Cornell, Toby Whithouse and Richard Curtis would be invited to help immediately. And I’d do away with the one writer one episode thing, a writing room with solid support for every minute of the show would be the way I’d lean. First three stories are individual, then a two-parter, then three singles, a two parter, and a two part finale. Tonally I like the same as Matt Smith’s first series. A bit fairytale, but with some serious ideas behind it. Keep the magic of exploring the universe and finding new things to be amazed at. A few references to both modern and NewWho, a scary Sontaran story ideally and maybe the Slitheen or something from 2005/6. I’d bring back the Draconians too (see below).
Not a single story arc in my first series. Naturally the characters would progress and adapt but I wouldn’t do the clunky method of dedicating two minutes at the end of every episode to build up the finale. Neither would I drop the occasional sentence hinting at things to come. That’s for my second series. My first is a simple solid throw of the dice.
So, we’ve had the first series of my Doctor trundling around the universe and established his companions. Now the second series is where it picks up. It opens on the Black Guardian, one of the Guardians of Time, the masters of every aspect of the universe. The Black Guardian is the embodiment of darkness and entropy and cropped up a couple of times in Classic Who being generally evil and destructive. He traps The Doctor on a planet one end of a solar system, with his companions and TARDIS on a planet the other end of the solar system. The series is then dedicated to their struggles to be reunited. First episode setting it up, then one episode with Doctor, one with companions, one with Doctor, one with companions. Then episode 6 has the Doctor arriving at his TARDIS to find the companions missing, he has to track down the Black Guardian across time with the help of the other Guardians. Big epic battle for the finale. The ideas need fleshing out more but that’s the basic strategy…
For this I’d need some proper strategy writers. Someone get Big Finish on the phone. I’d poach some of their writers, Nick Briggs, Eddie Robson, Jonathan Morris and probably a few others. Planning like this needs lots of help…
So if the Beeb ever do give me the job, run for your lives. I hope you’ve enjoyed. Good luck Chris Chibnall.