Doctor Who is the longest-running sci-fi show in history, but it’s only in the past few years that the BBC series started to diversify behind the scenes. The 56-year-old series has long been criticized for its lack of female writers and directors — though it should be noted that it was a female producer that helped bring the show to life — but new showrunner Chris Chibnall has made it his mission to bring more women on board the TARDIS. Chibnall’s first season already saw record diversity, and the new batch of Doctor Who season 12 writers and directors is only improving on that.
BBC announced that three new writers and four new directors will be joining the Doctor Who creative team for its 12th season, set to air in 2020. Most significantly, all three new writers for Doctor Who season 12 are women — with Chibnall’s hires already outnumbering the total number of female writers who have penned episodes since the show’s revival in 2005.
The three new writers boarding the TARDIS are Nina Metivier, Maxine Alderton, and Charlene James, who join returning season 11 writers Vinay Patel (Demons of the Punjab), Ed Hime (It Takes You Away), and Pete McTighe (Kerblam!). Of the three new writers, Metivier has the most association with Doctor Who, appearing in a small role in a few episodes last year. She has also recently worked on The A-List, while Alderton has written for the long-running British soap Emmerdale, and James has worked for A Discovery of Witches.
They’ll be joined by four new directors as well, including two women: Nida Manzoor, who directed episodes of Enterprice (not a typo, it’s not Enterprise), and Emma Sullivan, who has written on the BBC soap Doctors. Also directing this season are Jamie Magnus Stone and Lee Haven Jones, the latter of which seems to be a journeyman writer for every U.K. series.
Chibnall welcomed the new writers and directors in a statement following the announcement:
“We’re thrilled that Doctor Who continues to attract some of the most exciting and dynamic talent working in television. Along with our returning faces, we’re excited to welcome new members to the Doctor Who family. The Doctor Who team is crammed with British television’s brightest writers and directors: we’ve adored working with them, and can’t wait to show you the explosive stuff they’ve created!”
Since 2005, only four women have written for the series — Sarah Dollard, Rona Munro, Helen Raynor, and Catherine Tregenna — and none were women of color. Chibnall has already made right by his promise to lean into diversity, though I hope that his hires are more than a case of making a quota. Season 11 of Doctor Who was a mixed bag because Chibnall was so eager to start fresh, hiring writers and directors who don’t have a history with the series, resulting in a season that felt more like a science-fiction-tinged history lesson than the show we know and love. I don’t know enough about the new writers and directors to make an informed opinion about their work, though it is encouraging that Hime and McTighe, who were responsible for two of the best episodes of the season (Hime’s It Takes You Away may in fact be one of the best episodes of the show), are returning.
Doctor Who returns in early 2020.
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