Probably. Maybe. Whatever:
Writers Explain Why ‘Doctor Who’ is ‘Like Writing Seven Shows At Once’
by Graeme McMillan
Tomorrow sees the 50th anniversary of the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, television’s longest-running sci-fi show and — in recent years — one of the fastest-growing genre franchises around the world (The anniversary is being celebrated with a global simulcast of a special episode “The Day of the Doctor,” with additional 3D screenings in U.S. cinemas on Saturday and Monday).
The longevity of the series means that those currently creating the show grew up watching it — not that the familiarity makes their jobs any easier. “Writing Doctor Who is not like writing any other show. It’s like writing seven shows at once, it’s so extraordinarily demanding,” said Chris Chibnall, who’s written for the show since 2007 under showrunners Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat.
“Douglas Adams, who was a Doctor Who writer of huge renown, said the show had to be complicated enough for children and simple enough for adults, and that still holds true, I think. The target audience is everybody from 6 to 106,” he continued. “You want it to be exciting and thrilling and have a lot of different takes to it. You want it to be emotional, and have great characters, and you also want it to be self-contained: within 45 minutes, you’re having to land on a planet, or a period of history, meet a whole bunch of people, solve a mystery, have an adventure and get back in the TARDIS — and with jokes, and you can’t afford to do any of it. That’s why it’s one of the hardest shows to write for, but when you even come close to getting it right, it’s the most exciting show in the world to write for.”
Toby Whithouse, who has written for the show in addition to creating the original British version of genre series Being Human, also praised the variety offered by the series. “Being Human always had to retain a certain shape, whereas with Doctor Who, I’ve written a chamber episode, a thriller episode, a western episode [and] a high-camp comedy episode,” he said. “There’s always going to be twists and turns and it’s never going to be the same show week to week.”