Russell T Davies returns to save Doctor Who from itself

Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who
(Image credit: BBC)

Check out our analysis of Russell T Davies' return to Doctor Who.

Doctor Who is usually the one going around saving people across the galaxy, but it looks like the famed Timelord is getting some help from an old friend this time around.

That's right: Russell T Davies is returning as the series showrunner for Doctor Who, having revived the beloved sci-fi show in 2005 and, ultimately, made it into the cultural behemoth it is today.

Davies will be taking the mantle from Chris Chibnall in 2022, and overseeing whoever the Doctor regenerates into after another six-episode season from current iteration Jodie Whittaker (thanks, BBC).

Having overseen Doctor Who during its heyday – the days of Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, David Tennant and Freema Agyeman – Davies' return could well tempt back lapsed fans who lost interest in the following years of Doctor Who seasons.

Russell T Davies' departure from the show was seen by many as a blow to the usual quality of Doctor Who episodes, with later seasons – fronted by Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker in turn – lacking the same focus on long-term arcs and developing the relationships between the Doctor and their companions. 

Who didn't shed a tear at the parallel universe separation of Rose and Tennant's Doctor, and feel their heartstrings tugged as he tried to find companionship with successive guest stars? Who can forget Bad Wolf?

The Doctor's Doctor

It's a surprising move for Davies, who recently burst back into the limelight with It's A Sin – an exceptionally moving and powerful miniseries about the AIDS crisis and the young, queer men caught up in it.

Given Davies' many years away from the show that made his name – and the clear examples from recent TV history that he's still at the top of his storytelling A-game – we're certainly optimistic about the change, and hopeful that Davies can bring a level of humanity back to a show that has struggled to present its characters as real, relatable people, rather than chess pieces hurried between cosmic backdrops.

And, judging by Davies' previous comments about the state of the Doctor Who franchise, it could well lead to even more spin-off shows: “There should be a Doctor Who channel now. You look at those Disney announcements, of all those new Star Wars and Marvel shows, you think, we should be sitting here announcing The Nyssa Adventures or The Return of Donna Noble, and you should have the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors together in a 10-part series. Genuinely.”

It's certainly a move that could bring back lapsed fans (of which there are many on the TechRadar team, most of whom are collectively freaking out at this news).

As we wrote but a few weeks ago, "If Doctor Who is going to return to the glory days of David Tennant and Russell T Davies – when it regularly went toe-to-toe with the likes of The X-Factor in the ratings and fuelled water-cooler conversations galore – there needs to be a major rethink about what Who is, and what it should be."

We can only hope that this is the reckoning for Doctor Who that the show desperately needs.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.