Saturday, September 25, 2021

"The Future's Bright. The Future's Rusty"

Screenwriter, producer and all-round top-bloke yer actual Russell Davies is to take charge again of Doctor Who, the BBC's popular, long-running family SF drama which he helped to revive so successfully in 2005. Big Rusty, who was the drama's showrunner until 2009, will take over when Chris Chibnall departs next year. 'I'm beyond excited to be back on my favourite show,' said Davies (seen below, auditioning successfully for the role of Batman), who resumes his role as Doctor Who prepares to mark its sixtieth anniversary in 2023. 
One of Big Rusty's first responsibilities will be to decide who will take over the TARDIS controls following Jodie Whittaker's exit. The actress is set to hang up her Sonic Screwdriver and get back into some normal clothes after one further six-part series to be broadcast later this year and then three 2022 specials. In a statement, Davies said it would be 'time-travelling too fast' to speculate at this early stage as to what will actually happen when he returns to the production. Not, as this blogger has noted previously, that such a detail will stop much idle, ill-informed, crass and downright daft speculation being published in the popular media, argued over on the Interweb or talked about, loudly, in pubs. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, dear blog reader. '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,' Rusty continued. 'I'm still a viewer. For now.' Chibnall his very self said it was 'monumentally exciting and fitting' that Davies would be back in charge for the series' sixtieth birthday. 'Russell built the baton that is about to be handed back to him,' the current showrunner and producer continued. 
    Davies revived Doctor Who in its current incarnation with Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor and remained for David Tennant's three year tenure in the lead role, leaving after Tennant's final 2009 episode, The End Of Time (Part 2). You knew all that, right? And, if you didn't, what the Hell are you doing reading this blog? Anyway, Steven Moffat (or, 'Moffatt' at the BBC News website insist on renaming him) took over when Matt Smith assumed the role in 2010, staying on for Peter Capaldi's stint as TV's indefatigable Time Lord, including supervising the astonishingly successful fiftieth anniversary celebrations in 2013. The success of Doctor Who's relaunch led Davies to create two spin-off shows, Torchwood - which was quite good, in parts - and Sarah Jane Interferes - which really wasn't. 
    'It's nearly eighteen years to the day since the BBC announced that Doctor Who was returning, more than a decade after it was axed,' wrote the BBC's entertainment correspondent, the very Lizo Mzimba. 'No Doctor or companion had yet been cast, but it was confirmed that Russell T Davies would be in charge of the show. At the time, the lifelong Doctor Who fan was best known as the writer of Queer As Folk (he even managed to briefly squeeze robot dog K9 into the series).' Few within the TV industry, Lizo added, predicted just how bigly large the revival would become upon its return and Davies is the man credited with much of that success. As showrunner he oversaw every creative aspect of the popular long-running family SF drama, wrote many of its scripts and was an exceptionally hands-on executive producer; the book The Writer's Tale (reviewed on this blog back in 2008), a diary of daily e-mails and text messages between Davies and the journalist Benjamin Cook, details the astonishing attention-to-detail Davies gave to almost every part of the show, from approving merchandise designs to overseeing the plans for media events. Rusty's unexpected return to the show has delighted many, this blogger very much included. Not least because he once stood next to Russell at a Virgin writer's event in London and was asked to (and, indeed, did) pass the future Doctor Who showrunner the vodka and orange he was drinking at the time. Few moments in this blogger's life have come close to that and he's dined out on that story for decades
With the exception of the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie with Paul McGann, Doctor Who has always been produced in-house, purely by the BBC. But from 2023 it will be a co-production with Bad Wolf. The production house was founded by Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner who worked alongside Davies during his time on Doctor Who. Tranter was the BBC's head of drama, Gardner was an executive producer on the show. Both are seen as less high profile, but still crucially important parts of Doctor Who's previous success. After leaving the show in 2009, Davies enjoyed more acclaim with the dramas Years & Years, A Very English Scandal and It's A Sin. He also created Cucumber (which wasn't very good), Aliens Versus Wizards (ditto) and Old Jack's Boat (which was quite sweet). Piers Wenger, the BBC's director of drama, said the news of Davies' return would 'delight Doctor Who fans across the globe.' Especially, perhaps, all of the ones who whinged about him on a weekly basis between 2005 and 2009 and then, the second he was gone, spent much time and effort longing for 'the good old days' when he was in the job. (Steven Moffat is currently, also going under a similar 'you don't know what you've got till its gone' reassessment by large chunks of The Special People. Some of us, dear blog reader, always appreciated what we had, when we had it.) 'We are thrilled that Russell is returning to Doctor Who to build on the huge achievements of Chris and Jodie,' Wenger continued. 'Russell, it's wonderful to have you back.' 
       Yeah. What he said.