Will Russell T. Davies break all the Doctor Who records?

A while ago I did a post where I ranked how successful each Doctor Who producer was at farewelling the show’s companions. At the time, I said that the only person whose specific ranking could still feasibly change was Chris Chibnall, as he was still running the show and was likely to still write out one or two companions. But, it turns out I was wrong, but now we hear that Russell T. Davies is returning to helm the program in 2023!

(Daily Doctor Who #357)

This isn’t exactly new news, but it occurred to me that this means Davies impact upon the show could change a lot. Maybe he still has time to really mess things up and become known as the series’ worst ever showrunner, or example.

Seems unlikely, right?

But what is likely is that he could actually beat out other writer producers to become Doctor Who‘s most prolific head creator, in various ways.

Now, it’s important to point out that we’re only looking at Doctor Who the TV show itself here. If we were to count spinoffs like Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures then there’s a good chance that Davies’ is already the franchise’s most prolific contributor.

Most episodes written or co-written for the revived series:

Steven Moffat – 48 episodes

Russell T. Davies – 31 episodes

I see some other strange numbers online, but when I count this is what I come up with. However, if you look at the whole series, classic and revived, you come up with some other significant names..

Most episodes written or co-written for the revived series:

Robert Holmes – 72 episodes

This is counting everything that Robert Holmes could be considered to be a primary writer on, but 8 of them were releaesed under pseudonyms as they represented work he did on other people’s scripts in his role as a script editor.

Terry Nation – 56 episodes

Malcolm Hulke – 53 episodes

David Whitaker – 40 episodes

That’s 40 credited episodes, but some of the later ones were heavily re-written by others.

Bob Baker – 38 episodes

Many of these were co-written by Dave Martin (see below).

Terrance Dicks – 37 episodes

Like some of the others, we’re counting his episodes pretty broadly–a bunch fo them are uncredited re-writes of other people.

Dave Martin – 34 episodes

Bob Baker’s frequent collaborator wrote all his episodes in the partnership.

And then finally we get to Russell T. Davies with his 31 episodes.

But what about if you don’t look at episodes, but at stories?

Most stories written or co-written for the classic or revived series:

Well, this is also confusing, especially in the modern day when it’s hard to know where exactly one story ends and another begins. But going with my personal preferences…

Steven Moffat – 39 stories

A bunch were only co-written by Moffat, but that’s true for Davies as well.

Russell T. Davies – 25 stories

He’s behind Moffat, but way ahead of the third place candidate, who is Chris Chibnall, who is currently at around 18 stories, if we consider Flux to be one story. If Flux is actually separate stories (which is definitely not how it’s marketed) and if Chibnall writes all the episodes that are left to be done under his showrunnership, then he will get up to 26 stories, just edging out Davies. But that’s a lot of if’s. Nobody from the classic era comes anywhere near to those numbers of stories, not even the likes of Robert Holmes or Terry Nation.

But what about the list of credits for Doctor Who producers? With this, I’m just talking about the senior producers / showrunners of the show–a list of only 12 people.

Most episodes produced for the classic or revived series:

If we look just at the number of episodes, then Russell T. Davies is not even in the upper half of the listings:

John Nathan-Turner – 170 episodes

Barry Letts – 128 episodes

Verity Lambert – 86 episodes

Steven Moffat – 84 episodes

Innes Lloyd – 77 episodes

Graham Williams – 72 episodes

Phillip Hinchcliffe – 70 episodes

Russell T. Davies – 60 episodes

Obviously, if we go for the revived series only, then Davies is in second place.

And if we go for stories instead of episodes, Davies fares higher in the rankings for the franchise overall:

Most stories produced for the classic or revived series:

Steven Moffat – 73 stories

Again, some my disagree as to where one story ends and another begins. I consider Face the Raven, Heaven Sent, and Hell Bent to be three separate stories, for example, and the “Monk-trilogy” in Series 10 to be two stories. Turn Left is a separate story, but Utopia is part of a three-parter.

John Nathan-Turner – 47 or 50 stories

The discrepancy in the above number is due to the uncertainty of counting Trial of a Time Lord as a single story, or four separate stories. Dimensions in Time, by the way, is not counted here. And neither are any other mini-episodes.

Russell T. Davies – 46 stories

So, in the forthcoming new-Russell T. Davies era, what does he need to do be our new record holder?

Most episodes written or co-written for the revived series:

18 more episodes

Most stories written or co-written for the series overall:

15 more stories

Most episodes written or co-written for the series overall:

43 more episodes

Most episodes produced for the revived series:

25 more episodes

Most episodes produced for the series overall

111 more episodes

Most stories produced for the series overall

There are some pretty monumental tasks ahead for Davies if this is his ambition (don’t misunderstand me, this is tongue-in-cheek, I have no sense that this matters to him in the slightest), but I’d be happy to see him do it if only because it means the show would keep going for that long!

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