Whovians all over the world will celebrate today about the news that the man who brought Doctor Who back from limbo is finally back steering the Tardis. It’s taken over a decade, but now Russell T. Davies — Doctor Who‘s showrunner from the beginning of Christopher Eccleston’s tenure as the eponymous Timelord to the end of David Tennant‘s time as The Doctor — will soon be returning to the series as showrunner.
As Deadline reports, Davies has announced his return to Doctor Who next year after the current showrunner Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker — the very first woman to play the lead role since Doctor Who‘s 1963 debut — take their final bows. One of the many reasons fans have been partial to Davies over the years is that even before he became the series’ showrunner, he was an unapologetic Doctor Who fan. It shouldn’t be surprising then that in his statement, Davies made sure to tip his hat to the current team, saying that he’s “still a viewer for now.” He called Whittaker’s version of The Doctor “brilliant” and referred to Chibnall as his “friend and hero.”
At least one Doctor Who alum is thrilled to hear the news, and it isn’t even an actor who worked on the series while Davies was showrunner. Matt Lucas — who played the companion Nardole during Peter Capaldi‘s time as The Doctor — took to Twitter to express his excitement for the news, calling it “a coup.”
With the exception an unsuccessful attempt to resurrect the franchise with a 1996 TV movie, before Russell T. Davies convinced BBC to revive Doctor Who under his direction, the series had remained dormant since 1989. Particularly after David Tennant stepped into the lead role, Russell T. Davies’ version of the series brought Doctor Who to levels of popularity it hadn’t seen in decades. Along with bringing back classic favorites like K-9, the Master, and Davros, Davies created two spin-offs — Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures — which he continued working on after stepping down as Doctor Who showrunner in 2009.
Davies has enjoyed quite a bit of success since leaving Doctor Who. Most recently, Davies helmed the acclaimed miniseries It’s a Sin. Premiering on the BBC in January 2021 and jumping to HBO Max the following month, It’s a Sin is a powerful chronicle of the lives of a group of friends devastated by the early days of the AIDS epidemic.
In 2015, Davies spoke to Doctor Who TV and at the time seemed perfectly happy to remain a fan of Doctor Who rather one of its creators. He said he was “moving on” and added that as much as he loved the series, his “own stuff” had to be his priority. There’s no word on what changed his mind between 2015 and now, but one possibility is what many see as the declining quality of the series. If Rotten Tomatoes is an accurate indicator, then Jodie Whittaker’s time on Doctor Who hasn’t impressed critics all that much. Season 12 has a 78% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while the Revolution of the Daleks special earned 69%. Low Rotten Tomatoes score don’t make or break a show, of course, but it’s noteworthy that those two scores represent the only time a Doctor Who season or special has dipped below 80% since the 2005 revival.
The 13th season of Doctor Who, starring Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, is due to premiere some time before the end of the year.