Doctor Who to adopt US 'writer's room approach' from 2018?
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When Doctor Who was rebooted in 2005, Russell T Davies introduced the concept of showrunner, mapping and writing key episodes, while bringing in individual writers to pen particular episodes. It is a concept that Steven Moffat maintained when he took over the show in 2010. But after his departure next year, new showrunner Chris Chibnall is looking to shake up the formula and introduce a 'writer's room', which would see multiple writers pen each episode.
Radio Times have reported that Chibnall has been considering this approach to run alongside his own scripted episodes and the BBC has met with Writers' Guild of Great Britain [WGGB] - the union for professional scriptwriters - to discuss the approach.
Bernie Corbett, general secretary of the union, made the following statement:
"If it’s what the BBC wants and it’s what the writers want it then it’s fine by us. Nobody’s against it. Lots of writers would like to try it but you have to get round those practical difficulties. Our job as a Trade Union is not to disrupt things or hold things back if they think it is a good idea.
”In Britain writers tend to be more individuals and in the US there is a concentration of production talent in LA and New York. Our writers tend to live all over the place in London, in Bristol, Bath and Durham and it may be difficult for them to attend a writers room. But if they can all come together to work on the show then it sounds like a great idea.
Also [writers rooms] are expensive and they tend to have big dollars in the US with long running shows. Doctor Who is in many ways a show that is perhaps moving towards that kind of scale as US shows so it seems a good fit. It’s not that we don’t want to do it in the UK, but it is about scale" - Radio Times
The BBC added:
"It’s still very early days and no fixed model has been decided upon yet. Chris Chibnall as the new showrunner will write his own episodes and is currently exploring different ways of working with new and established writers on the show." - Radio Times
While there has been a lot of behind the scenes changes over the last eleven years, this would one of the most significant developments in the production of Doctor Who.