Doctor Who boss Chris Chibnall reveals show's impact on his life

The showrunner said the programme ‘occupies all my waking hours'.

Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall has said working on the programme has been “entirely life-changing” and that his workload is “bonkers”.

The TV producer and writer also said that he felt more pressure for his first series as the sci-fi drama’s boss when Jodie Whittaker made her debut as the Time Lord because “there was no way we were going to let that fail”.

Chibnall took over as Doctor Who showrunner from Steven Moffat in 2017 as well as becoming its head writer, his first series coinciding with Whittaker being introduced as the new Doctor.

Doctor Who series 12
Bradley Walsh as Graham, Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, Mandip Gill as Yaz and Tosin Cole as Ryan in new artwork for the upcoming series of Doctor Who (Alan Clarke)

Chibnall told Radio Times magazine: “Doctor Who occupies all my waking hours. And that’s probably a thing you’d hear across the decades from everybody who’s worked on the show.

“It’s very full-on, because we do a thing that no other show does, certainly on British television – a full movie with a new cast and setting every week.”

According to the magazine, his schedule includes 10 months in the writer’s room, overlapping with 10 months of filming.

The show is then edited – complete with special effects and music dubbing – before they have to do publicity, before it all starts again for the next series.

Chibnall said “it’s very hard to say how it divides”, adding: “It’s entirely life-changing, even having worked on it before, and on Torchwood.

“I’m waking up earlier, going to bed later, working all the time. It’s a 5.30am to midnight job.

“But I’ve still got a family and a dog. It’s just the work section of my life that’s bonkers.”

Chibnall said Russell T Davies – who revived Doctor Who in 2006 – recently said “he was still tired” from running the show.

Radio Times
Doctor Who (Radio Times magazine)

Chibnall said he “really laughed at that”, and added: “But I’m not surprised. However, the great gift I’ve had coming in is the work that he and Steven had done, both in the show and in terms of setting up studios and the systems to make it.”

With his second series of Doctor Who airing in early 2020, he said there is less pressure this time in general, although the new series is a “step up from last year”.

He said: “There was more pressure last year, definitely!

“Launching Jodie, launching a whole new family of companions, a new look, a new composer – it was a whole new team last year.

“And just the pressure of Jodie being the first female Doctor – there was no way we were going to let that fail, to let people say, ‘With a female Doctor it’s rubbish.’ Absolutely not.”

Whittaker will return as the Thirteenth Doctor alongside co-stars Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill and Bradley Walsh in the new series, which will air next year.

Read the full interview in this week’s issue of Radio Times.

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