Mark Gatiss has commented on the showrunner job for Doctor Who, describing it as a poisoned chalice. The currently running tenth season of the rebooted BBC classic marks the final bow for both twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi and showrunner Steven Moffat. Moffat has been in charge of the show since the fifth season, but after presiding over the reign of two Doctors and a handful of colorful assistants will be stepping down at the end of the year. Filling the resulting breach will be Chris Chibnall, of Broadchurch fame.
One person who many felt would have been a potential candidate as Moffat’s successor is Mark Gatiss. Gatiss has been a frequent collaborator with Moffat and Doctor Who in general, writing episodes such as “Robot of Sherwood” and last week’s “Empress of Mars” as well as appearing on screen as Professor Lazarus in “The Lazarus Experiment”.
While speaking at Oxford Union recently (via Radio Times), Gatiss confirmed that not only was he not offered the chance to replace Moffat, he’s also glad the opportunity wasn’t presented to him:
“To be honest, the job of showrunning Doctor Who I think is probably the hardest job in television, I’ve seen it up close…it’s just so completely all-consuming. I act and I write and I couldn’t do both. I couldn’t do it if I did that. It’s such a poisoned chalice… there’s so much expectation… millions of people who think they can do it better than you.”
If anyone has an idea of how hard being in charge of Doctor Who is (aside from those that have actually done it) it’s Gatiss, who has been an ever-present figure during Moffat’s tenure, with the duo also having worked together closely on Sherlock. His comments are a nod towards the passionate fan-base Doctor Who has built over the years which has made the show a huge success but also resulted in a lot of backlash towards Moffat over certain decisions and storylines.
Although he wasn’t offered the position, many Doctor Who fans perhaps would’ve been very happy indeed to see Gatiss take over from Moffat. The duo’s close working partnership would ensure a smooth transition from one showrunner to the next and Gatiss is a lifelong fan of the show, with a deep and detailed working knowledge of both the classic and modern seasons.
With that said, the writer has also been responsible for penning a number of Doctor Who episodes that didn’t go down at all well with fans. “Victory of the Daleks” for instance, was infamous for introducing multi-colored versions of the Doctor’s most famous enemy and “Sleep No More” from the Capaldi era was arguably the weakest episode of the actor’s entire run.
Doctor Who continues June 17th with “The Eaters of Light” on BBC and BBC America.
Source: Radio Times