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Doctor Who’s Best New Showrunner Can Perfect Chibnall’s Goals

Sarah Dollard would be the best pick as the new Doctor Who showrunner — and she could actually fulfill some of Chris Chibnall's goals. No one can fault current Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall on his ambition, with the long-time Doctor Who fan even daring to rewrite the show's continuity and retcon the Doctor as the "Timeless Child," who predated even the Time Lord race. Unfortunately, his execution hasn't been great, and as a result, the Chibnall era has proved deeply divisive.

But Chibnall's time with the long-running sci-fi series is now coming to an end. Both Chibnall and star Jodie Whittaker will be departing the TARDIS after Doctor Who season 13 and three subsequent specials that will air in 2022. Naturally, all attention is on the identity of the Fourteenth Doctor — but Doctor Who's biggest challenge is replacing Chibnall, not Whittaker, because the showrunner makes all the most important decisions. When Russell T. Davies stepped down there was an heir apparent in Steven Moffat, but this time it's a much tougher call.

Related: Jodie Whittaker's Exit Continues A Doctor Who Tradition (& Breaks Another)

Sarah Dollard would be the best choice. An accomplished writer and producer, she has experience with Doctor Who, having written the excellent episodes "Face the Raven" and "Thin Ice" in seasons 9 and 10. Interestingly, the latter of these scripts shows the same kind of social edge Chibnall was keen to bring into the show but handled much more effectively: "Thin Ice" sees Doctor Who confront British racism, something Chibnall seemed oddly unaware of in spite of having the most diverse TARDIS crew ever. " You want your writing to be as truthful as possible," Dollard explained in an interview with Geekd-Out. "So for me, there was just no way to write about a woman of colour going into the past on Earth without acknowledging how the color of her skin would have impacted how people reacted to her there. Obviously, it also had to be entertaining and true to the tone of the show, so I tried to make it an intrinsic part of the story, rather than just add-on." This awareness means she could actually accomplish Chibnall's goal, giving Doctor Who a more nuanced social edge.

Any Doctor Who showrunner faces an enormously demanding job, and candidates need experience as producers as well as writers. Fortunately, Dollard has that in spades, and is particularly notable for her work as Producer for Netflix's Bridgerton; that's a series with a sharp social edge (and a Black Queen Charlotte, which isn't as ahistorical as many viewers assumed) and lavish productions, perfect training for Doctor Who. What's more, Dollard has indicated that while she's been unable to work with Chibnall during Jodie Whittaker's tenure, she's been in touch with Chibnall and had at least one conversation about his plans. That could potentially mean she's well-positioned to pick up the baton.

It remains to be seen whether Dollard could be tempted to return to Doctor Who in such a high-profile position. Given her success with other programs, however, she's certainly qualified. Hopefully, she'll be amenable, though, because it would be great to see what the Dollard era of Doctor Who would look like.

More: Jodie Whittaker Deserved Better Than Chibnall's Doctor Who

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