Big changes are in store for the Doctor Who franchise as it enters its 60th year. Beginning with the announcement that Russell T. Davies was returning as showrunner, the changes and news have been piling up. RTD has not only been hard at work on the next chapter of Doctor Who but at expanding the Whoniverse with new stories and spin-offs. Ushering in this new era along with Davies are David Tennant and Catherine Tate. Tennant will be returning and taking on the mantle of the 14th Doctor, before regenerating into Ncuti Gatwa’s 15th Doctor.
The expansion of the Whoniverse is no easy task, as all eyes are on Davies, the BBC, and Disney, as they embark on was is sure to be an exciting and potentially risky endeavor. If anyone can see Doctor Who into its next major regeneration, it’s Russell T. Davies, however, he’s going to need help from a strong team to do it right. And if the recent rumors are true, he’ll be getting that help as it’s rumored that ex-showrunner Steven Moffat is returning to Doctor Who as well.
Rumor: Steven Moffat poised to return to the TARDIS
According to a new rumor from The Mirror, Steven Moffat is set to return to the long-running BBC sci-fi series to write some episodes alongside Russell T. Davies. The rumor indicates that Davies wishes to have Moffat back on the team, as the partnership with Disney is expected to blast the show around the world in a grand way. The rumor reads:
“Russell’s on a mission to make Doctor Who great again, event television not to be missed, which is what it was for many years during his and Steven’s tenures in charge of the show.
One of the ways he can do that is to ensure he has the best possible people writing for the program. He has nothing but respect for what Steven achieved with the show and was a fan of his vision as showrunner. He approached him about returning in just a writing capacity because he knows Doctor Who inside out and has a brilliant imagination for adventures in space and time.
He took some convincing but the chance to contribute to a show he has loved since childhood and see it blossom in a new era with a new Doctor was just too much to resist.”
As with all rumors, this one should be taken with a grain of salt until an official confirmation comes from Davies or the BBC. However, it should be noted in the article from The Mirror, that the BBC declined to comment when asked about Moffat’s return. So far from a denial. While it is a different situation, this feels incredibly similar to the news of Tennant’s return, which was rumored back in January 2022, four months prior to the official announcement. The BBC refused to comment on that rumor as well which ended up being true.
What Steven Moffat returning to Doctor Who could mean
If this rumor is to be believed, Steven Moffat’s return to Doctor Who would be exciting, to say the least. Moffat, under RTD’s initial stretch as showrunner, wrote episodes such as “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead”, “Blink”, “The Empty Child”, and “The Girl in the Fireplace”. When he took over as showrunner, he wrote for beloved Doctors Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. He also created well-received characters like River Song, Amelia Pond, and Clara Oswald.
Moffat’s seasons of Doctor Who have been criticized for their storytelling, however, the list of episodes written during Davies’ tenure are strong and among many fans’ favorites. It seems like a slam dunk bringing back Moffat, ensuring another writer who has a deep understanding of the Whoniverse. I think this duo could ensure some epic episodes for Gatwa’s run as the Doctor.
Perhaps it’s a bit of wishful thinking, but the return of Moffat may mean the return of characters and stories from his time as showrunner. While Moffat’s mind is vastly creative, bringing new creatures like the Weeping Angels, it would be fantastic to see Alex Kingston return as River Song, or past companions like Clara (Jenna Coleman) or Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) come back for more adventures. And we can’t forget Michelle Gomez’s Missy, who is brilliant in every episode she’s in.
Part of me wonders if Moffat’s return is part of the plan to expand the Whoniverse, with spin-offs and companion projects. Writer Wiktor Reinfuss pointed out in an article that quite a few characters from Moffat’s era are ripe for continuations or spinoffs. It’s possible that the goal is to bring Steven Moffat back on to shepherd one (or a few) of the spin-offs. Depending on the plan in place with Disney to do so, it makes sense that some of the Doctor Who spin-offs will require different showrunners, for ease of development.
Regardless if it’s just a few episodes for Gatwa’s tenure as the Doctor, or it’s the beginning of something bigger for the Whoniverse, I’m excited at the possibility of Moffat’s return.
Doctor Who returns in November with three-anniversary specials on BCC and Disney+, before Gatwa’s festival holiday episode and his first full season. What are your thoughts on this rumor of Moffat’s return? Let us know on Twitter or in the Cosmic Circus Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out our theory on how multiple Doctors from across the 60 years can return in the anniversary specials!