DOCTOR WHO: Chris Chibnall Comments On The Fan Backlash To His Divisive Tenure As Showrunner

DOCTOR WHO: Chris Chibnall Comments On The Fan Backlash To His Divisive Tenure As Showrunner DOCTOR WHO: Chris Chibnall Comments On The Fan Backlash To His Divisive Tenure As Showrunner

Chris Chibnall was in charge of Doctor Who during Jodie Whittaker's run as the Doctor and he's now opened up on the backlash his tenure as showrunner received from longtime fans of the sci-fi series...

By JoshWilding - Feb 07, 2024 03:02 PM EST
Filed Under: Doctor Who
Source: BBC (via

After Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat's well-received runs as Doctor Who showrunner, it was clear from the start that Chris Chibnall had big shoes to fill. He immediately brought a very different feel to the series, introducing new villains and the first female Doctor in Jodie Whitaker. 

Every Doctor Who boss has brought their own bold ideas to the long-running sci-fi franchise (not all of which sat well with fans), but Chibnall made arguably the biggest changes yet. Not only did he introduce the controversial concept of the "Timeless Child," but stories revolving around The Master and the Flux also split opinions. 

Of course, we'd be remiss not to point out that Chibnall also faced his fair share of challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic cancellation talks within the BBC. 

Talking to BBC News (via, the former Doctor Who showrunner said he has "incredibly fond memories" of his time working on the series. "We had such a great time making it," he continued. "I'm so proud of the stories we told and the people we worked with, and of Jodie's Doctor and the companions and all the writers we brought in and the things we did with the show that were new."

As for how he feels to have seen the way his tenure split opinions, Chibnall added, "I really feel super-proud of it. We knew that going in. You don't cast the first female Doctor if you're thinking you're going to go in and just do the same as has been done before."

Davies has since returned to Doctor Who, bringing back David Tennant for the show's 60th anniversary before a shocking bi-generation which saw Ncuti Gatwa take over the role. His specials acknowledged Chibnall's run, albeit in a way that offered upset fans an "out" by suggesting The Toymaker had made a "jigsaw" out of the Doctor's past to play with his old foe. 

"There was a week where it was not going to be made. There was a week where I’d been offered another job," Chibnall revealed last year. "And because the BBC was just like - the BBC studios - 'Where’s the money coming from? How are we going to do this? Is it too difficult?'"

"And it literally went down to the wire of there was an hour on one day when it’s like, it was done. And yeah...there are certain things I had to do to get that season made. Because they couldn’t find a way to do it," he explained. "And so yes, yes, there absolutely was [doubts], and it was like, 'Okay, we might have to be going. Okay, so Revolution, the Daleks. That's it.'"

Doctor Who will return to the BBC and Disney+ with new episodes this May.

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lazlodaytona - 2/7/2024, 3:29 PM
man i'm SO over dr. who news.
Waifuslayer - 2/7/2024, 3:35 PM
@lazlodaytona - seriously, who actually watches this?
marvel72 - 2/7/2024, 3:40 PM
@Waifuslayer - Even less than before, especially when the next series starts.

This show attracting new viewers and losing many long term ones.
Ginley - 2/7/2024, 5:29 PM
@marvel72 -


The Star Beast achieved 9.5m in the 28-day consolidated viewing figures in the UK.

This is the third highest +28 day figure since records began with Last Christmas, and easily the largest increase from +7 to +28 in the show's history.

Why does the show's success make you so angry?
DarthOmega - 2/7/2024, 7:14 PM
@Ginley - As a male presenting comment lord I can say that comment doesn't seem angry in the slightest
lazlodaytona - 2/8/2024, 10:45 AM
@Waifuslayer - apparently kids do .... that's what I've been told on several threads. I have no desire to watch it now.
VamP5659 - 2/7/2024, 3:32 PM
As a man who never got into Doctor Who but wants to really bad, what era should I start with? Because I find the idea of the show super cool but I can't really find a good starting point.
Origame - 2/7/2024, 3:34 PM
@VamP5659 - 9th doctor. It's a modern era and a short story that explains the general stuff you need to know.
VamP5659 - 2/7/2024, 3:36 PM
@Origame - I actually tried watching that first episode, I think I got like halfway through it and never went back to it for some reason.
Origame - 2/7/2024, 3:46 PM
@VamP5659 - yeah. The full 9th doctor run is a good single season storyline. Definitely a good place to start, especially since it was the first story after a long hiatus from tv.
Apophis71 - 2/7/2024, 3:48 PM
@VamP5659 - Eccleston is a good in for those new to who and most consider the Tennant run straight after the best new Who incarnation (these days typical THE best, prior it was almost undisputably Tom Baker) and will help if you do watch all of the 10th to get more of him as the 14th...

...other than that just start with the Christmas special and the new upcoming season as prior knowledge is never required, each incarnation a soft reboot of sorts and always ensure anything from before you need to know is explained in episodes.
Spike101 - 2/7/2024, 4:13 PM
@VamP5659 - the first 4 doctors the skip everything to Christopher Ecclestone and David Tenant, then walk away.
Ginley - 2/7/2024, 5:30 PM
@VamP5659 -

Try the fifth series, which is Matt Smith's first run.
Ginley - 2/7/2024, 5:31 PM
@Spike101 -


He already said he doesn-/ like the Eccleston series.
Apophis71 - 2/7/2024, 6:59 PM
@Ginley - If he struggled with the first episode I can get that, is a bit info dump like at first but push through that and should be fine after.

However if REALY can't jive with Eccleston just jump to the first of Tennant with the Christmas Special 'The Christmas Invasion' going into season 2 of new Who.

If he finds Rose offputting can jump to watching the Runaway Bride, then try out the series with Martha Jones or straight to the rest of his time with Donna by watching Voyage of the Damned followed by season 4 Partners in crime.
Smittoons - 2/7/2024, 11:10 PM
@VamP5659 - Try the first episode with Matt Smith, series 5. There are a lot of good episodes before that (most of them Steven Moffat’s), and there’s absolutely some lore that pays off if you watch from series 1, but the show does take some time to find its groove both with the writing and with the humor and the production values. Try series 5 and then you might feel more inclined to go back to the other Doctors.
Origame - 2/7/2024, 3:33 PM
And that is why you failed if you knew going in you would divide opinions.

Ever thought of just making something fans would like? Crazy thought.
DarthOmega - 2/7/2024, 7:16 PM
@Origame - But then they will be accused of... Giving the fans what they want. Which is apparently a bad thing nowadays. It's better to give them something they didn't ask for, and when they don't like it, just call them one of the big three. Racist, sexist, homophobic.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
TheVisionary25 - 2/7/2024, 3:35 PM
I wasn’t a big fan of Chibnall’s era overall , it stands as my least favorite modern era of the show so far…

However , I do appreciate him from keeping the show from cancellation during the pandemic which was a trying time for everyone , much less the entertainment industry (the effects of which are still being felt to a degree).

If there is anything i hope comes back from his era , it’s Sacha Dhawan’s Master which might be my favorite modern iteration of the character honestly.

HashTagSwagg - 2/7/2024, 3:36 PM
The dude Last Jedied the franchise.
Blergh - 2/7/2024, 3:38 PM
The only really big issue I had was turning the Doctor into the originator of the time-lords, even more mythicizing the character into godhood. I like the character being a traveller being drawn into other people's stories, not them being THE story.

That's why I enjoyed RTD so much, he made the Doctor a true nomad.
Apophis71 - 2/7/2024, 3:59 PM
@Blergh - That's fair, I don't mind the idea the Timelords stole the Doctors abilities and wiped his memory as they were always arrogant Aholes so fits well enough, just the execution of it was off.

Can be fixed still, without retconning it as all having been a lie, by basicaly bringing in the REAL timelords the Doctor came from and basicaly have the same situation as before (IE that he is a true nomad that not only fled his own planet but his own universe, lol). Means you can start from scratch creating his own 'original' race and making them land better as antagonists than the prior Timelords typicaly were in most instances whilst having a better reason why we see those original Timelords more infrequently.
Origame - 2/7/2024, 4:11 PM
@Blergh - yeah. Nothing wrong with him now being a her due to the nature of regeneration both in and out of the universe.

It's the story that was at fault.
Blergh - 2/7/2024, 4:40 PM
@Origame - could you please elaborate? I don’t get the point you’re making.

You mean the issue is that the doctor turned female?
Origame - 2/7/2024, 4:46 PM
@Blergh - it's been heavily brought up by several people and implied by his comments that the reason for the bad reception was because this doctor is a woman.
mpk1988 - 2/7/2024, 4:20 PM
The Christmas specials and recent woke shit is just vomit inducing..

Blergh - 2/7/2024, 4:42 PM
@mpk1988 - gotta ask, were people like this YouTube dude ever really fans that watched the show?
Sometimes I think these types of folks just find recent news about something woke in popular media, claim they’ve always been fans and complain for the clicks.
Because really, very often the “woke” stuff is absolutely in line with the materials message and intent.

Especially visible with Star Trek and DW lately, I can concede that Star Wars has been more apolitical than the other two but the prior two universes have always been liberal and progressive.
These days I feel like many of the hate is for money on YouTube while some realize that their mindset has evolved in the route of these shows villains and don’t want to accept that, in the eyes of these pieces of media, they’d be in the “wrong”.

Did these worlds turn woke or did you just go down the wrong road?
Twenty23Three - 2/7/2024, 10:36 PM
@mpk1988 - saying woke and sharing a video from the the internet’s biggest loser 🤦‍♂️🤣
mpk1988 - 2/8/2024, 1:23 AM
@Twenty23Three - pretty much all those reviewers are losers - that's besides the point here.

Those cringe lines and scenes are part of the show. There's traditionally liberal which almost everyone on this site is...

And then there's the shit that's on a good amount of shows abd movies these - the stuff that's embarrassing to watch, degrades IP, is unscientific, illogical and plain disgusting
mpk1988 - 2/8/2024, 1:24 AM
@Blergh - check the reply to the guy below. Can't be bothered to type it all out again. Got to go for work
WarMonkey - 2/9/2024, 6:17 AM
@Blergh - Is Nerdrotoc, the creator of that video, a real fan? YES. Are the people that call out these companies for what they have done to the characters and stories with purpose and intent to subvert them for a "modern audience" in order to push political propaganda and remove male role models and push toxic feminism> YES.
WarMonkey - 2/9/2024, 6:37 AM
@Blergh - I accidentally hit the post button. Haven't even finished half my morning coffee yet lol. If you watch the video or any other it's very clear these folks have been fans their whole lives of the franchises. These stories and characters are things they love and have loved since they were very young. They love these things cause they got them through tough times in their life. For example, Nerdrotic used to own a comic book store and has a massive pop culture collection. He has one of the biggest and most expensive Doctor Who collection anywhere.

Push-back against these companies and the ones they hire, who have no love or sometimes even respect for the franchises and their fans, cause from a place of love for these stories and characters. Come to one of his live streams, he has them every day basically where thousands come together to share our love of these things and to call out and laugh at the ones messing with or destroying them. No one cares about sex or race when it comes to writers and characters they switch gender and race of, they and me just want people that know how to write good hero stories and good characters.

Today is Friday and later on in the afternoon he has the biggest pop culture show on the internet, Friday Night Tights. I would recommend coming and hanging out with us and see for yourself. I have same screen-name there so say Hi if you see me in chat! Some would say we are all haters, while anyone that actually shows up and watches for themselves will see we are people with passion for the franchises we have loved and supported most of our lives. I think you would fit in and have a great time! Tonight they'll probably be discussing the Gina Carano story teaming with Musk to sue Disney for wrongful termination and for sexism. People in that community love her and her Cara Dune character so it should be very fun. Sorry for so many words, this got VERY long lol.
Blergh - 2/9/2024, 11:38 AM
@WarMonkey - yeah, you guys have fun. But this sounds like the type of culture war atomsphere I'd rather not interact with. Thx tho
MadThanos - 2/7/2024, 4:36 PM
Rian Johnson?
dagenspear - 2/7/2024, 4:39 PM
"I really feel super-proud of it. We knew that going in. You don't cast the first female Doctor if you're thinking you're going to go in and just do the same as has been done before."

I don't think that connects to not writing well, if that's what happened.
Mugens - 2/7/2024, 5:20 PM
Yeah I have to admit that Chibnal's run was the weakest of the new era of Dr. Who even though he did have a few decent episodes during his time. Strangely enough I thought the very last episodes that closed out Jody's time as the Doctor was fairly close to what the whole series should have been. They were actually good, at least to me.
Ginley - 2/7/2024, 5:43 PM
All of the best episodes of the Chibnall era (Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror, The Haunting of Villa Diodati, The Village of the Angels*) were written by someone else yet he wrote or co-wrote 77% of the episodes.

Surely, that would prompt him to step back and reflect what went wrong.

*I don't count him as a writer on The Village of the Angels. He almost ruined that excellent episode with those awful Flux scenes that sucked all the tension out of the room.
Twenty23Three - 2/7/2024, 10:38 PM
Dude made a real mess of the show. I get trying to mix it up but making the Doctor a ‘chosen one’ whilst also [frick]ing with the characters timeline in a way that doesn’t add anything, and actively doesn’t work within the shows timeline. The guy added nothing of value to the show
Beer85 - 2/8/2024, 2:29 AM
Only pervs with a nose ring like modern Dr.Who.

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