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Doctor Who turning to the dark side

20/05/2008. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Science fiction screen writer Steven Moffat is to replace Russell T Davies as lead writer and executive producer of the fifth series of Doctor Who. Moffat's just finished work on Spielberg's Tintin script, too. Lucky lad. After the current series, Doctor Who will return in 2009 with four specials, and the full-length fifth series is currently scheduled to be broadcast on BBC One in Spring 2010.

Moffat has penned episodes including Blink, with its weeping angels, for which he was awarded the BAFTA Writer Award 2008 on Sunday 11th May. His previous work on Doctor Who includes The Girl In The Fireplace for series two, which earned him his second Hugo Award. His first was for the series one two-parter The Empty Child, which became famous for its scary refrain "Are you my mummy?"

Moffat has just delivered the screenplay for Tintin the first instalment of the trilogy of films featuring the Belgian comic-strip hero to Steven Spielberg who will direct it for DreamWorks. Thomas Sangster and Andy Serkis will star.

For the current Who series, Moffat has written Silence In The Library, a two-parter starring Alex Kingston which transmits on 31st May and 7th June 2008 on BBC One.

Moffat's career began with the ITV children's drama Press Gang in 1989, for which he won his first Bafta. Jekyll, his six-part fantasy thriller starring James Nesbitt and Michelle Ryan, transmitted on BBC One last year.

Steven Moffat told SFcrowsnest.com "My entire career has been a Secret Plan to get this job. I applied before but I got knocked back 'cos the BBC wanted someone else. Also I was seven. Anyway, I'm glad the BBC has finally seen the light, and it's a huge honour to be following Russell into the best - and the toughest - job in television. I say toughest 'cos Russell's at my window right now, pointing and laughing."

Jane Tranter, controller at BBC Fiction, noted, "Scripts and writers are at the heart of what BBC Drama is all about, and especially at the heart of Doctor Who. As Lead Writer and Executive Producer, he has overseen the creative direction and detail of the 21st century relaunch of Doctor Who and we are delighted to have his continued presence on the specials over the next 18 months. But the challenge and excitement of the fifth series is now being handed to Steven Moffat. The Tardis couldn't be in safer hands. Steven's talents on both Doctor Who and beyond are well known. He is a writer of glittering brilliance, comedy and depth, with an extraordinary imagination and a unique voice. Steven has a wonderful mix of being a committed Doctor Who fan and a true artist, and his plans for the next series are totally thrilling."

The announcement follows the news that Piers Wenger will take over the role of Executive Producer from Julie Gardner on series five of Doctor Who.

Piers Wenger added, "The challenge of taking Doctor Who to a new future is a huge and thrilling one and BBC Wales is blessed to have someone with Steven's extraordinary talent in charge. His imagination and creativity have already given birth to some of the series' most unforgettable monsters though in this instance no-one need fear; time, space and the future of The Doctor are safe with him."

Series four's forthcoming episodes feature a line-up of guests including Lesley Sharp, Lindsey Coulson, Alex Kingston, Colin Salmon and Michael Brandon. Freema Agyeman and Billie Piper The Doctor's two former companions have also returned to assist The Doctor in series four.

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