The Case for Neil Gaiman as Showrunner of Doctor Who

Though there are no definite plans in the works that we've been made aware of, Steven Moffat has said in recent interviews that he is probably closer to the end of his time as head of Doctor Who than the beginning. Ten men and one woman (appropriately enough) have served as the showrunner and head producer of the half-century old show if you don't count the television movie. The average length of time in the position is around three years, with Barry Letts serving for five and John Nathan-Tuner holding the top spot for nine.

The question on everyone's mind aside from who might replace Matt Smith as The Doctor is who would inherit the crown of the narrative. My personal guess is Mark Gatiss, who in addition to writing some really tremendous episodes is well versed in the mythos and magic of Doctor Who.

But ask the question on any open forum and the answer won't be Gatiss or Gareth Roberts or Chris Chibnall or any of the other long-term show writers. People want the prince of stories himself, Neil Gaiman, who just turned in his second wonderful effort with "Nightmare in Silver."

How would such a thing be in reality?

Review: Nightmare in Silver

Neil Gaiman has been a Doctor Who fan from the very beginning. According to his introduction to the reprint of Doctor Who and the Daleks, he distinctly remembers being three years old and having school mates bend down the straws of their glass milk bottles and scream, "I AM A DALEK." He watched the show whenever he could, and collected the novelization when he couldn't. As I personally embark down the road of the adventures for which no full serials survive armed with those same paperbacks, it makes me feel even closer to a man I consider my literary hero.

No doubt, Gaiman has the right heart for the show, and he definitely has the writing chops. Anyone who has ever read his Sandman series also knows that if you want an overarching epic story that can survive over years, he can do that as well. The Hugo award for "The Doctor's Wife" speaks for itself. When Gaiman pens an episode of Doctor Who nothing but magic comes out.

I read an interview a week or so back where Gaiman talked about the calls for him to become showrunner, and I think a part of him is seriously considering what that would mean. It would certainly entail the derailment of any other writing, which is a shame because The Ocean at the End of the Lane sounds like a really amazing novel. He's mentioned that the only reason he's been able to contribute to the show so far is because he's wealthy enough to take six months off to pen an adventure.

It's equally clear that he loves the show. Not as a fan, not as a paycheck, but the way a true Whovian does. The way that we know, no matter how much we may disagree with his take sometimes, Steven Moffat does. To use Stan Lee's old term, Gaiman is a true believer. I have no doubt that he would make for very good television if used more.

That said, I don't want him as a showrunner.

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Gaiman is a racehorse not a pitpony being a showrunner would make him in to the latter


I don't know anything of Neil Gaiman's writing other than from his two Doctor Who episodes.  I thought The Doctor's Wife was alright, but nothing particularly special.  Nightmare in Silver, on the other hand, wasn't bad necessarily, but it wasn't very good (read my thoughts on my blog at  I just don't think Gaiman-run Doctor Who is a good idea.

Now to be fair to Gaiman, however, I think this entire season has been pretty lackluster, especially compared to series six, which I thought was brilliant.  I'm really, really hoping that The Name of the Doctor makes up for it.


I also would not want him as showrunner, and it's not necessarily because he looks to the past when writing. Instead, I'm afraid of the same thing happening to Gaiman that happened to Moffat when he took over the show. We've gotten, perhaps, more interesting season-long arcs, but the quality level of Moffat's episodes has noticeably suffered. Which isn't to say Moffat hasn't continued to produce high-quality television, he obviously has. But since he's been in charge, he's had trouble reaching the same level of brilliance he had when he just had to do 3-4 episodes a season.

Besides the obvious issue that Gaiman has an established writing career of his own, being showrunner would probably result in a similar problem. I'd rather get a single great Gaiman episode a season, personally.

JefWithOneF topcommenter

@conatonc You make a good point. I'd hate to get watered down Gaiman

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