Outgoing ‘Doctor Who’ EP admits successor will ‘ignore’ his canon changes

doctor who jodie whitaker
Image credit: Keane Eacobellis

The Jodie Whittaker era of Doctor Who has made some bold changes to the canon, with the casting of a female Doctor being the least of them. Over the past three seasons, the series has retconned the Time Lord’s past in a major way, revealing that the character has had a multitude more regenerations and a much longer lifespan than we ever knew before. It’s been a controversial change, to say the least, with many fans blasting it for ruining Whoniverse continuity.

Critics are hoping that incoming showrunner Russell T. Davies will wipe the slate clean once again, then, and ignore what outgoing EP Chris Chibnall has established. Interestingly, Chibnall himself has now admitted that he fully expects Davies to do just that — and it doesn’t bother him. While speaking to Radio Times, Chibnall — who is exiting the show this year alongside his leading star — initially defended his revisionist take on Who canon.

“It’s one of the few drama series without a written bible, and every era contains a contradiction or left-turn from what has come before,” he said. “Any future showrunner will ignore it or run with it.”

When asked if this means he expects Davies to ignore his own “Timeless Child” story arc, Chibnall responded, “Oh, I fully expect Russell to ignore it!” Not that there’s any hard feelings, though. Chibnall went on to pile on the praise for Davies, who originally helmed the show from 2005-10. It was actually Davies who gave Chibnall his big break on Who back in 2007.

“Everybody should have a big smile on their face,” he said of Davies’ return. “Russell is one of the elite showrunners and Who is very lucky to have him, especially off the back of It’s a Sin, one of the greatest shows of all time. For him to have incredible ideas and passion for it, to want to take it forward again – that’s fab. Nobody has a greater love for Doctor Who.”

Despite Chibnall’s prediction, it’s worth pointing out that Davies might be more of a fan of the Timeless Child arc than anticipated. In his novelization of 2005 episode Rose, published in 2018, Davies inserted references to various Doctors not seen on TV, alluding to the Doctor’s secret past lives. So fans, and Chibnall, might be surprised when the next era of the show begins in 2023, Who‘s 60th anniversary year.

In the meantime, Doctor Who returns this Sunday with Easter special “Legend of the Sea Devils”.