Russell T Davies

Russell T Davies
Russell T Davies
Davies sat with his back towards a marble-effect wall.
Davies outside Cardiff Central railway station on 22 April 2008.
Born Stephen Russell Davies
27 April 1963 (1963-04-27) (age 48)
Swansea, Glamorgan
Occupation Screenwriter, television producer
Nationality Welsh
Alma mater Worcester College, Oxford
Period 1986–present
Genres Drama, science fiction
Notable work(s) Queer as Folk
Bob & Rose
The Second Coming
Doctor Who
The Sarah Jane Adventures
Notable award(s)

Best Children's Drama
1998 Children's Ward
Dennis Potter Award

Best Drama Series
2006 Doctor Who
Partner(s) Andrew Smith

Stephen Russell Davies, OBE (born 27 April 1963), better known by his pen name Russell T Davies, is a Welsh television producer and screenwriter whose works include Queer as Folk, Bob & Rose, The Second Coming, Casanova, and the 2005 revival of the classic British science fiction series Doctor Who.

Born in Swansea, Davies aspired to work as a comic artist in his adult life, until a careers advisor at his school suggested that he study English literature; he consequently focused on a career of play- and screen-writing. After he graduated from Oxford University, Davies joined the BBC's children's department on a part-time basis in 1985 and worked in varying positions, including writing and producing two series, Dark Season and Century Falls. He left the BBC in the early 1990s to work for Granada Television and later became a freelance writer.

Davies moved into writing adult television dramas in 1994. His early scripts generally explored concepts of religion and sexuality among various backdrops: Revelations was a soap opera about organised religion and featured a lesbian vicar; Springhill was a soap drama about a Catholic family in contemporary Liverpool; The Grand explored society's opinion of subjects such as prostitution, abortion, and homosexuality during the interwar period; and Queer as Folk, his first prolific series, recreated his experiences in the Manchester gay scene. His later series include Bob & Rose, which portrayed a gay man who fell in love with a woman, The Second Coming, which focused on the second coming and deicide of Jesus Christ, Mine All Mine, a comedy about a family who discover they owned the entire city of Swansea, and Casanova, an adaptation of the Venetian lover's complete memoirs.

His most notable achievement is reviving and running the science fiction series Doctor Who after a sixteen year hiatus, with Christopher Eccleston, and later David Tennant, in the title role of the Doctor. Davies' tenure as executive producer of the show oversaw a surge in popularity that led to the production of two spin-off series, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, and the revival of the Saturday primetime dramas as a profitable venture for production companies. Davies was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to drama, which coincided with his announcement that he would step down from as the show's executive producer with his final script, The End of Time (2009–10). Davies moved to Los Angeles, California in 2009, where he oversaw production of Torchwood: Miracle Day and the fifth and final series of The Sarah Jane Adventures.


Early life and youth career

Stephen Russell Davies was born on 27 April 1963 in Mount Pleasant Hospital, Swansea. His parents, Barbara and Vivian Davies, were Classics teachers from the suburban area of Sketty. Stephen was the youngest of three children and their only son. Because he was born by caesarean section, his mother was placed on a morphine drip; an overdose resulted in a psychotic episode and institutionalisation.[1] He described his mother's experience as "literally ... like science fiction" and an early inspiration for his writing career.[1]

As a child, Davies was almost exclusively referred to by his middle name.[1] He grew up in a household that "never switched the TV off" until after closedown, and he subsequently became immersed in dramas such as I, Claudius and Doctor Who; one of his first memories, at the age of three, was the dénouement of the 1966 Doctor Who serial The Tenth Planet. He was also an avid cartoonist and comics enthusiast and purchased series such as Asterix and Peanuts.[2]

Davies attended the local Tycoch Primary School in Sketty and enrolled at Olchfa Comprehensive School aged eleven. In his first year, the main school buildings were closed off for renovation after inspectors discovered the cement used in construction caused other public buildings to collapse. Lessons were held in portacabins instead, which influenced his imagination to create mystery, science-fiction, and conspiracy thriller stories about the main building. He also immersed himself in books such as Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence and The Crystal Mouse by Babs H Deal; the latter influenced him so much he could "see it echoing in anything" he wrote.[3]

At the age of fourteen, Davies auditioned for and joined the newly formed West Glamorgan Youth Theatre (WGYT). The group's founder and director, Godfrey Evans, considered him to be "a total all-rounder" who was talented and popular with the other students. Working with the group allowed him to define his sexual identity: he embarked on a several-month relationship with fellow youth thespian Rhian Morgan, and later came out as homosexual in his teenage years.[4]

In 1979, Davies completed his O-Levels and stayed at Olchfa with the ambition to study English Literature at an Oxbridge university; he abandoned his aspirations of becoming a comic artist after a careers advisor convinced him his colour-blindness would make that path unlikely.[4] During his studies, he participated in the WGYT's assignments to create Welsh language drama to be performed at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, including Pair Dadeni, a play based on the Mabinogion myth cycle, and Perthyn, a drama about community belonging and identity in early-1980s West Glamorgan. In 1981, he was accepted by Worcester College, Oxford to study English literature. At Oxford, he realised that he was enamoured with the narrative aspect of fiction, especially nineteenth-century literature such as Charles Dickens.[5]

Davies continued to submit scripts to the WGYT during his studies at Oxford: Box, a play about the influence of television that Evans noted contained Davies' penchants for misdirecting the audience and mixing comedy and drama; In Her Element, which centred around the animation of still objects; and Hothouse, an Alan Bennett-inspired piece about internal politics in an advertising office. In 1984, he made his final performance for the WGYT and signed up for a course in Theatre Studies at Cardiff University after graduating from Oxford.[6] He worked sporadically for the Sherman Theatre's publicity department and claimed Jobseeker's Allowance in the interim. In 1985, Davies began his professional television career after a friend suggested that he should talk to a television producer who was seeking a temporary graphic artist for the children's show Why Don't You...?.[7]

Children's television career

Davies was taken on as a member of the BBC Wales Children's department in 1985 and given one-day contracts and commissions, such as illustrating for Why Don't You...?. As he was only given three days of work per month by the BBC, he continued to freelance and volunteer for the Sherman Theatre. In 1986, he was approached by the Sunday Sport before its launch to provide a football-themed daily strip; he declined because he was concerned about the pornographic content of the newspaper. He also submitted a script for Crossroads in response to an appeal for new writers; it was not used because the show was cancelled in 1987. He ultimately abandoned his graphic art career entirely when he realised in his early twenties that he enjoyed writing the dialogue of a comic more than creating the art.[8]

On 1 June 1987, Davies made his first and only appearance as a television presenter on Play School alongside regular presenter Chloë Ashcroft. Why Don't You...? line producer Peter Charlton suggested that he would "be good on camera" and advised him to take his career public. Davies was granted the opportunity for sporadic appearances over a period of six months; he hosted only one episode as a storytelling illustrator before he walked off the set and commented he "[was] not doing that again". The appearance remains an in-joke in the industry, and the recordings were invariably requested for wrap parties Davies attended.[9]

On Why Don't You...?, Davies took on varying jobs, including researcher, director, illustrator, assistant floor manager, and unofficial publicist for fan-mail. He was offered his first professional scriptwriting job in 1986 by show producer Dave Evans; he had entered Evans' office to collect his wages and was offered an extra £100 to write a replacement script. Davies' script was positively reviewed in the department and led to increasingly larger roles that culminated in a six-month contract to write for the show after it relocated to Manchester in 1988.[10] He worked for the show for two more years and eventually became the show's producer. He oversaw an increase in drama which tripled its audience—despite the fact BBC Manchester was not permitted to create children's dramas—which reached its climax with his last episode: a drama where the Why Don't You...? protagonists, led by the show's longest running presenter Ben Slade, were trapped in a café by a supercomputer that tried to kill them.[11]

While he was producing Why Don't You...?, Davies branched out within the children's department at BBC Manchester: he attended directors' courses; wrote for older audiences with his contributions to DEF II and On the Waterfront; and accompanied Keith Chegwin to Norway to assist in the production of a children's documentary about politics. The head of the children's department, Ed Pugh, offered him the chance to produce Breakfast Serials, a new series scheduled for an 8:00 am slot. Breakfast Serials incorporated elements of non-sequitur comedy and popular culture references aimed at older students, such as a parody of Land of the Giants.[12] Davies would make the decision to leave the children's department and the BBC during the production of Breakfast Serials: a friend called him after the first episode was transmitted and observed that he had "broadcast a joke about the juvenilia of Emily Brontë at eight o'clock in the morning"; the conversation caused him to reflect that he was writing for the wrong audience.[13] However, Davies would produce three more children's series while he pursued an adult drama career: Dark Season, Century Falls, and Children's Ward.

Dark Season and Century Falls

Kate Winslet at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival.
Dark Season was a breakthrough role for multi-award winning actress Kate Winslet.[14]

During his tenure on Why Don't You...?, Davies oversaw the production of a story that took place in Loch Ness. The story was the precursor for his first freelance children's project: Dark Season. The show, originally called The Adventuresome Three, would feature the Why Don't You...? characters in a purely dramatic setting that was influenced by his childhood. He submitted the script to the head of the BBC's Children's department, Anna Home, and Granada Television. Both companies were interested in producing the show with minor changes: Granada wished to produce it as one six-part serial, as opposed to Davies' plan of two three-part serials; and Home was interested in accepting the show on the condition it included a new cast of characters. He accepted Home's offer, and the show was allocated the budget and timeslot of Maid Marian and her Merry Men, which had been put on hiatus the year before.[15]

The first three episodes of Dark Season feature three young teenagers in a contemporary secondary school, Reet (Kate Winslet), Marcie (Victoria Lambert), and Tom (Ben Chandler), who discover a plot by the villain Mr Eldritch (Grant Parsons) to take over the world using school computers. Eldritch is eventually defeated by Marcie and the computer expert Professor Polzinsky (Rosalie Crutchley). The next three episodes focus on a new villain: the archaeologist Miss Pendragon (Jacqueline Pearce), later described by Davies as a "devil worshipping Nazi lesbian",[16] who becomes a part of the ancient supercomputer Behemoth. The two distinct plot elements converge at the end of the fifth episode, when Pendragon crashes through the school stage as Eldritch walks into the auditorium.[14]

Dark Season uses concepts seen in his tenure as executive producer of Doctor Who: "School Reunion", written by Toby Whithouse, shares its concept of the antagonist using computers in a comprehensive school to take over the world; "Army of Ghosts" unexpectedly brings together the series' two major villains for the final episode; and the characters of Marcie and her friends are similar, albeit unintentionally, to the structure of the Doctor and his companions.[14] Dark Season was the first series that he was credited as "Russell T Davies"—the initial arbitrarily chosen to distinguish himself from the BBC Radio 4 presenter—and the first series that he was commissioned to write a novelisation: it features a more ambiguous climax and foreshadows a sequel set in an arcade similar to the one featured in The Sarah Jane Adventures serial Warriors of Kudlak.[17]

Davies started planning a second series for Dark Season that followed a similar structure. The first half of the series would take part in the arcade mentioned in the novelisation, and the second would feature the appearance of psychic twins and the re-emergence of the villain Eldritch. The concepts were transferred to its spiritual successor, Century Falls, which was produced in 1993 at the request of Dark Season director Colin Cant. The series primarily used the "psychic twins" concept and was set in an isolated village based on those in the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.[18]

The plot of Century Falls is driven by a legend that no children had been born in the eponymous village for over forty years. The lead protagonist, Tess Hunter (Catherine Sanderson), is an overweight teenager who moves to the village with her mother at the beginning of the serial. She quickly befriends the psychic Ben Naismith (Simon Fenton) and his twin sister Carey (Emma Jane Lavin). The three teenagers examine the waterfall that gave Ben his powers and the disaster that caused the legendary infertility. The serial climaxes in a confrontation between Tess and the deity Century, who is attempting to fuse with Tess' unborn sister.[18]

Century Falls is conceptually much darker than its predecessor Dark Season and his later work, which Davies attributed to a trend that inexperienced writers "get off on the dark stuff":[19] in a BAFTA interview with Davies, Home recalled that she "very nearly got into trouble because it did actually push at the boundaries which some of the powers-that-be would rather not have been pushed";[16] and a Daily Mail review of the series considered the show's themes of arson, black magic, and communal fear as being "on a scale normally reserved for peak-time adult viewing".[16] The series also offered a sense of realism in its protagonist, who is not heroic and aspirationial, has poor social skills, and is bluntly described by Ben as a "fat girl",[16] a practice that the Daily Mail praised as "something that defies the Thought Police".[20] Century Falls was the last script he wrote for the BBC's children's department for fourteen years. He had begun to formulate another successor: The Heat of the Sun, a series set over Christmas 1999 and New Year's Day 2000 that would have included the concepts of psychic powers and world domination.[21]

Children's Ward

While he was writing Dark Season and Century Falls, Davies sought freelance projects elsewhere, including three scripts for the BBC children's comedy ChuckleVision. On venture in 1991 led him to Granada Television, where he edited scripts for the ITV children's medical drama Children's Ward under the supervision of eventual Coronation Street producer Tony Wood and his former boss Ed Pugh. By 1992, he had been promoted to producer and oversaw an increase in discussion of larger contemporary issues. In 1993, he wrote a script featuring a teenage boy who had been infected with HIV via a blood transfusion, which challenged the prevalent assumption that only gay people contracted HIV:[22]

Jason Lloyd
You must be a poof if you've got AIDS.
Richard Higgs
I'm not gay, and I haven't got AIDS; I'm HIV positive. But just for the sake of an argument let's say I was homosexual. Would it matter? What difference would it make?
[You'd] fancy me, wouldn't you?
There's not a boy, girl, man, or woman alive who could possibly fancy you. Look around. Where's this queue of people dying to ask you out? They don't exist, Jason, because you're stupid, you're bigoted, and you don't matter one little bit.
—Russell T Davies, Children's Ward, 1993[23]

Davies left the role of producer in 1994, but continue to write for the series on occasion. Notably, he was requested to write the 100th episode of the series, then called The Ward, which aired in October 1996. Instead of celebrating the milestone, he wrote a script about a recently emerging threat: paedophiles in online chat-rooms. The episode was about a The X-Files fan who was drawn in by a paedophile's offer of a rare magazine. In the dénouement of the episode, the child recounts the tale of his near abduction and describes his attacker as "just a man like any other man". The episode earnt Davies his first BAFTA award: the 1997 Children's BAFTA for Best Drama.[22]

Adult television career (1994–2004)

During his production tenure on Children's Ward, Davies continued to seek other freelance writing jobs, particularly for soap operas; his intention was to eventually work on the popular and long-running Granada soap Coronation Street. In pursuit of this career plan, he storylined soaps such as Families and wrote scripts for shows such as Cluedo, a game show based on the board game of the same name, and Do the Right Thing, a localised version of the Brazilian panel show Você Decide with Terry Wogan as presenter and Frank Skinner as a regular panellist. One writing job, for The House of Windsor, a soap opera about footmen in Buckingham Palace, was so poorly received that his other scripts for the show would be written under the pseudonym Leo Vaughn.[24]

In 1994, Davies quit all of his producing jobs, and was offered a scriptwriting role on the late-night soap opera Revelations, created by him, Tony Wood, and Brian B. Thompson. The series was a tongue-in-cheek deconstruction of organised religion, and featured his first overtly LGBT character: a lesbian vicar portrayed by Sue Holderness, who came out of the closet in a two-hander episode with Carole Nimmons.[25] Davies attributes the revelation about Holderness's character as a consequence of both the "pressure cooker nature" of the show and the recent ordination of female vicars in the Church of England.[25] He let his contract with Granada expire and pitched a new early-evening soap opera to Channel 4, RU, created by Bill Moffat, father of Press Gang co-creator Steven Moffat, and co-written by him and Paul Cornell. Although the slot was eventually taken by Hollyoaks, he and Cornell mutually benefited from the pitch: Davies introduced Cornell to the Children's Ward producers, and Cornell introduced Davies to Virgin Publishing. Davies wrote one Doctor Who Virgin New Adventures novel, Damaged Goods, in which the Doctor tracks a Class A drug across several galaxies. A sub-plot in the book was in turn the inspiration for The Mother War, a never-produced thriller for Granada about a woman, Eva Jericho, and a calcified fetus in her uterus.[26]

Davies continued to propose dramas to Channel 4, including Springhill, an apocalyptic soap-opera co-created by his colleagues Frank Cottrell Boyce and Paul Abbott that aired simultaneously on Sky One and Channel 4 in 1996–97. Set in suburban Liverpool, the series focuses on the pious Catholic Freeman family and their encounter and internal conflict with Eva Morrigan (Katharine Rogers).[27] He storylined for the second series, but submitted fewer scripts; Granada had commissioned him to write for their soap The Grand, temporarily storyline for Coronation Street, and write the straight-to-video special Coronation Street: Viva Las Vegas!.[28] The second series of Springhill continued his penchant for symbolism; in particular, it depicted Marion Freeman (Judy Holt) and Eva as personifications of good and evil, and climaxed with a finale set in an ultra-liberal dystopian future where premarital sex and homosexuality are embraced by the Church.[29] Boyce later commented that without Davies' input, the show would have been a "dry run" for Abbott's hit show Shameless.[30]

Davies' next project was The Grand, a period soap drama set in a Manchester hotel during the interwar period. It was designed to be a valuable show in a ratings war with the BBC and was scheduled at 9 pm on a Friday night. After the original writer abandoned the series, Granada approached him to write the entire show.[31] His scripts for the first series reflect the pessimism of the period; each episode added its own emotional trauma on the staff, including a soldier's execution for desertion, a destitute maid who threatened to illegally abort her unborn child to survive, and a multi-episode storyline centred on the chambermaid Monica Jones (Jane Danson) as she kills her lover in self-defence, is arrested, and eventually executed for murder.[32] The show was renewed for a second series despite the first's dark tone.[33]

The second series had a lighter tone and greater emphasis on character development, which Davies attributed to his friend Sally, who had previously warned him of the adult humour in Breakfast Serials; she told him that his show was too bleak to be compared to real life. Davies highlighted the sixth and eighth episodes of the second series as a time of maturity as a writer: for the sixth, he utilised then-unconventional narrative devices such as flashbacks to explore the hotel barman's closeted homosexuality and the societal attitudes towards sexuality in the 1920s;[34] and he highlighted the eighth as when he allowed the series to "take on its own life" by deliberately inserting plot devices such as McGuffins to enhance the comic relief of the series.[35] Although it was well received, the series' ratings were not high enough to warrant a third series. After its cancellation in September 1997, Davies had an existential crisis and almost died from an overdose; the experience persuaded him to detoxify and make a name for himself by producing a series that celebrated his homosexuality.[36]

Queer as Folk

Canal Street during Europride 2003: several rainbow flags adorn the exterior of bars along the road.
Manchester's gay district on Canal Street was a major source of inspiration for Queer as Folk and, later, Bob & Rose.
I'm queer. I'm gay. I'm homosexual. I'm a poof, I'm a poofter, I'm a ponce. I'm a bumboy, batty-boy, backside artist, bugger. I'm bent. I am that arse bandit. I lift those shirts. I'm a faggot-ass, fudge-packing, shit-stabbing uphill gardener. I dine at the downstairs restaurant, I dance at the other end of the ballroom. I'm Moses and the parting of the red cheeks. I fuck and I am fucked. I suck and I am sucked. I rim them and wank them, and every single man's had the fucking time of his life. And I am not a pervert. If there's one twisted bastard in this family, it's this little blackmailer here. So congratulations, Thomas. I've just officially outed you. [beat] Oh, and one more thing: did I mention I've got a baby?
—Stuart Jones (Aidan Gillen) coming out to his parents in the first episode of Queer as Folk 2.[37]

After his near-death experience, Davies started to develop a series for Channel 4 which reflected the "hedonistic lifestyle" of the gay quarter of Manchester he was leaving behind. Encouraged by ex-Granada executives Catriona MacKenzie and Gub Neil to "go gay", the series focused on a group of friends in Manchester's gay scene, tentatively titled The Other End of the Ballroom, and later, Queer as Fuck.[38] By February 1998, when he completed the first draft for the series première, the series was known under its eventual title Queer as Folk.[38] The series emulates dramas such as Band of Gold in presenting realistic discussion on sexuality, as opposed to "one-sided" gay characters in soap operas such as Eastenders, and eschews "heavy-handed discussion" of issues such as HIV, instead focusing on the party scene on Canal Street.[39]

After he wrote the pilot, he approached actors for the main characters.[40] Christopher Eccleston was Davies' first choice for the role of Stuart Jones; Eccleston declined because of his age and suggested his friend Aidan Gillen instead.[41] The roles of Vince Tyler and Nathan Maloney were quickly given to Craig Kelly and Charlie Hunnam, and the secondary character Alexander Perry, originally written for the television producer Phil Collinson during his brief acting career, was portrayed by Anthony Cotton, who later portrayed the gay character Sean Tully in Coronation Street.[41] The series was allocated a £3,000,000 budget, and was produced by Red Productions, owned by his friend and former colleague Nicola Shindler, and filmed by Cracker and Hillsborough director Charles McDougall and The Grand director Sarah Hardin on location in Manchester.[42] The eight forty-minute episodes emulated experiences from his social life and includes an episode where the minor character Phil Delaney (Jason Merrells) succumbs to his excesses and dies unnoticed by his social circle.[43]

The series was transmitted in early 1999, when Parliament were discussing LGBT equality; the series première aired on the day the House of Lords was discussing the Sexual Offences Bill 1999, which eventually reduced the age of consent for homosexual couples to 16.[44] The première was controversial, in particular because it depicted the character Nathan, aged fifteen, in sexual intercourse with an older man; the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom received 136 complaints and the series received criticism from his parents and conservative activist Mary Whitehouse.[45] The controversy was amplified when the sponsor Beck's withdrew after several episodes and homosexual activists complained that the series was not representative of gay culture. Nevertheless, the show garnered 3.5 million per episode and a generally positive reaction from fans, and was renewed for a two-episode special due for the following year.[46]

Queer as Folk 2 was broadcast in February 2000 and was driven by the plot element of Vince's half-sister's wedding. The specials place emphasis on Vince and Stuart's relationship, and ends with their departure for another gay scene in a pastiche of Grease, as Nathan took the role as the leader of the Manchester scene's next generation.[47] On the heels of the special, Davies pitched the spin-off Misfits, a late-night soap opera set in a boarding house owned by Vince's mother, Hazel,[48] and The Second Coming, a series that depicted the Second Coming of Christ in contemporary Manchester.[49] Misfits was rejected in December 2000 and The Second Coming was initially approved by Channel 4 but later rejected after a change of executive personnel.[49][50] Instead of contesting the cancellation of The Second Coming, he left Channel 4 and vowed to not work with them again.[49]

Bob & Rose

Shindler continued to pitch The Second Coming to other television networks while Davies sought other ventures. His next series was based on a gay friend who married a woman and fathered a child. He saw the relationship as a promising concept for an unconventional love story and asked the couple about their relationship to develop the show.[51] After developing the series around the prejudice that he and his gay friends had shown, he realised he was creating caricatures for the purpose of exposing them, and instead focused on telling a traditional love story and gave the couple the traditionally British names of Bob Gossage and Rose Cooper.[52]

To simulate a classic love story, the plot required antagonists, in the form of Bob's best friend Holly Vance and Rose's boyfriend Andy Lewis (Daniel Ryan). While Andy, named after Davies' boyfriend Andrew Smith, was a minor character and departed in the third episode, Holly featured throughout the entirety of the series.[52] Bob & Rose thus followed a similar format to Queer as Folk, in particular, the triumvirate of main characters composed of a couple and an outsider who lived in contemporary Manchester, and inverted the traditional "coming out" story by focusing on Bob's uncharacteristic attraction to Rose; Bob describes his sexual life by simply speaking the line "I fancy men. And her.".[52] The series was similar to the Kevin Smith film Chasing Amy (1997), as they both portrayed a romance between a straight character and gay character and the resulting ostracism from the couple's social circles, much like The Second Coming shared its concept with Smith's 1999 film Dogma.[53]

After successfully pitching the show to ITV, Red Productions joined Davies in casting the show and initially approached Jonathan Creek star Alan Davies to portray Bob.[54] Despite being heterosexual, he heartily accepted the role and spent several weeks researching first-hand Manchester's gay scene with series director Joe Wright. His only objection to the role was Bob being a fan of Manchester United F.C., the team Shindler had named Red Productions for, because of his prolific support of Arsenal F.C..[54] The part of Rose was given to Lesley Sharp, her first leading role after her portrayal of secondary characters in past Red shows Playing the Field and Clocking Off, and Jessica Stevenson was cast as Holly by ITV Head of Drama Nick Elliott on the basis of her performance in the Channel 4 comedy Spaced.[54]

The series was filmed in the southern suburbs of Manchester between March and June 2001 and often used Davies' own home as a green room. The series was the only Red–Davies collaboration not to be scored by future Doctor Who composer Murray Gold;[55] the soundtrack was a Martin Phipps composition inspired by Hans Zimmer's work on the 1993 film True Romance.[56] It aired on Monday nights in September and October 2001.[56] Although it was critically acclaimed, and eventually won two British Comedy Awards and a British Academy Television Award nomination, the series had lower viewing figures than expected and was moved to a later timeslot for the final two episodes.[57] Although the series was not as successful as he hoped, the show helped Davies rekindle his relationship with his mother shortly before her death, just after the transmission of the fourth episode, which he sees as "possibly the best thing [he has] ever written".[57]

The Second Coming

You are becoming Gods. There's a new master of creation, and it's you! [You've] unravelled DNA, and at the same time you're cultivating bacteria strong enough to kill every living thing! Do you think you're ready for that much power, you lot?
—Stephen Baxter (Christopher Eccleston), The Second Coming

Shortly after the transmission of Bob & Rose, Davies was approached by Abbott to write for his new BBC show Linda Green. He accepted the offer and wrote an episode where the titular character (portrayed by Liza Tarbuck) and her friends attend a schoolmate's funeral and become psychologically haunted by the deceased woman's solitary life.[58] His first work for the BBC in eight years prompted them to continuously approach him with concepts for period dramas; he invariably declined because his only intention was to revive Doctor Who, which had then been on hiatus for over a decade.[58] In 2002, he met with the BBC to discuss the revival of the show and producing The Second Coming; the BBC were unable to commit to either, and he again declined to work for them.[58] After the BBC rejected The Second Coming, Shindler proposed that the series should be pitched to ITV. Despite the story's controversial message, the critical success of Bob & Rose encouraged the channel to commission the series for broadcast.[58]

The Second Coming had been several years in the making and endured many rewrites from the first draft presented to Channel 4 in 2000, but retained its key concept of a realistic depiction of the Second Coming of Christ with a humanity-centred deity.[49][59] A major removals from the script, due to time constraints, was a long sequence titled "Night of the Demons": the main character, a shop assistant named Stephen Baxter who discovers his divine lineage, takes over a hotel with his disciples and eventually encounters several of the hotel's employees that have been possessed by the Devil.[60] Several similar sequences were removed to create a thriller set in the days before Judgement Day.[60]

An experienced actor was required to portray Stephen; Davies approached Christopher Eccleston, who had previously been approached for the role of Stuart in Queer as Folk, based on his performance as Nicky Hutchinson in the drama Our Friends in the North.[61] Eccleston accepted the role and helped Davies make the character more human after he observed that "Baxter was getting lost amid his loftier pronouncements". The character of Judith, who would represent the fall of God, was given to Lesley Sharp after her performance in Bob & Rose, and the role of the Devil was given to Mark Benton.[61]

The Second Coming was controversial from its conception. When it was a Channel 4 project, it was the subject of a Sunday Express article a year before its original projected transmission date of late-2001.[62] The series would again receive criticism when it was rumoured it would be broadcast over the Easter weekend of 2003.[63] The series was eventually broadcast over consecutive nights on 9–10 February 2003 to 6.3 million and 5.4 million viewers respectively, and received mixed reactions from the audience:[63] Davies received death threats for its atheistic message and criticism for its anticlimactic ending,[62] but he received two nominations for Television Awards and one for a Royal Television Society Award.[63]

Mine All Mine

In the time near his mother's death, Davies returned to Swansea several times and reflected on the role of family. During one visit, he realised that he had not yet written a series set in Wales; hence, he started creating a series about a family who discovers that they own the entire city of Swansea.[64] The Vivaldi Inheritance, later renamed Mine All Mine, was based on the tale of the Welsh pirate Robert Edwards and his descendants' claim to 77 acres (310,000 m2) of real estate in Lower Manhattan, New York City.[64] The series was a departure from his trend of experimental social commentary; it was instead designed to be a mainstream comedy that utilised Welsh actors: Davies and Red Productions even planned a cameo appearance by Swansea-born Hollywood actress Catherine Zeta Jones.[64]

Because the series was centred on an entire family, Red Productions was given the task of casting eleven principal characters:[65] the role of family patriarch Max Vivaldi was given to Griff Rhys Jones, at the request of ITV for prolific actors;[65] Rhian Morgan, Davies' ex-girlfriend from the WGYT, was cast as Max's wife Val;[65] Sharon Morgan as Max's sister Stella;[65] Joanna Page as Candy Vivaldi;[65] Matthew Barry and Siwan Morris as the Vivaldi siblings Loe and Maria;[65] Hi-de-Hi! actress Ruth Madoc as Val's sister Myrtle Jones;[65] and Jason Hughes as Maria's boyfriend Gethin.[65] The series, specifically the family's composition of two daughters and a gay son, mirrored his own upbringing to the point where Davies and his boyfriend referred to the show as "The Private Joke".[66]

The series was originally written in six parts, but Davies excised a large portion of the fifth episode because the crew expressed concerns with its pacing. The series was filmed in late 2003 under the direction of Sheree Folkson and Tim Whitby, and utilised many areas of Swansea that Davies was familiar with since his childhood. It aired as four hour-long episodes and a ninety-minute finale on Thursday nights preceding Christmas 2003.[67] Eventually, Mine All Mine would be his least successful series and ended its run with just over two million viewers, which he later blamed on the series' high eccentricity.[67]


Gentlemen, I'm sure we can sort this out amicably. Look at it this way: if you could do what I could do, you'd do it too! But you can't. I can. And I have. And I'll do it again. So you should be happy for me, just a little tiny bit, don't you think?
—Giacomo Casanova (David Tennant)'s "manifesto" and first lines in the serial.[68]

Shortly after the transmission of Mine All Mine, the BBC commissioned Davies to produce the revival of Doctor Who, which completed his decade-long quest to return the series to the airwaves.[69] At the time, he was developing two scripts: the first, a cinematic adaptation of the Charles Ingram Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? scandal, was cancelled after he accepted the Doctor Who job;[70] and the second, a dramatisation of the life of the Venetian adventurer and lover Giacomo Casanova, was his next show with Red Productions.[71]

Davies' association with Casanova began when London Weekend Television producers Julie Gardner, Michele Buck, and Damien Timmer approached him to write a 21st-century adaptation of Casanova's memoirs.[71] He accepted to script the series because it was "the best subject in the world" and, after reading the memoirs, sought to create a realistic depiction of Casanova instead of further perpetuating the stereotype of a hypersexual lover.[71] The series was originally written for ITV, but was turned down after he could not agree on the length of the serial.[71] Shortly after the ITV declined to produce Casanova, Gardner took up a position as Head of Drama at BBC Wales and brought the concept with her. The BBC agreed to fund the series, but could only release the money required if a regionally based independent company produced the series. Davies turned to Shindler, who agreed to become the serial's fifth executive producer.[71]

Davies' script takes place in two distinct time frames and required two different actors for the eponymous role: the older Casanova was portrayed by Golden Globe and Honorary Academy Award winner Peter O'Toole, and the younger Casanova was portrayed by Olivier Award nominee and upcoming television actor David Tennant.[68] The serial takes place primarily during Casanova's early adulthood and depicts his life among three women: his mother (Dervla Kirwan), his lover Henriette (Laura Fraser), and his consort Bellino (Nina Sosanya).[68] The script takes a different approach to Dennis Potter's 1971 dramatisation; instead of Potter's focus on sex and misogyny, the 2005 serial focuses on Casanova's compassion and respect for women.[68]

Casanova was filmed alongside the first few episodes of the new series of Doctor Who, which meant producers common to both projects, including Davies and Gardner, made daily journeys between the former's production in Lancashire and Cheshire and the latter's production in Cardiff.[72] Red Productions also filmed on location overseas in a stately home in Dubrovnik, and alongside production of the identically titled 2005 Lasse Hallström film in Venice.[68] The two production teams shared resources and were given the unofficial names of "Little Casanova" and "Big Casanova" respectively.[68] When it premièred on BBC Three in March 2005, the first episode attracted 940,000 viewers, a record for a first-run drama on the channel, but was overshadowed on BBC One by the return of Doctor Who in the same month.[72]

Doctor Who (2005–2010) and beyond

Do you know, like we were saying? About the Earth revolving? It's like when you were a kid. The first time they tell you the world's turning, and you just can't quite believe it because everything looks like it's standing still. I can feel it: the turn of the Earth. The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour, and the entire planet is hurtling around the sun at sixty-seven thousand miles an hour, and I can feel it. We're falling through space, you and me. Clinging to the skin of this tiny little world, and if we let go... That's who I am. Now, forget me, Rose Tyler. Go home.

Since he watched the First Doctor's (William Hartnell) regeneration into the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) at the end of the 1966 serial The Tenth Planet, Davies had "fallen in love" with the show and, by the mid-1970s, he was regularly writing reviews of broadcast serials in his diary. His favourite writer and childhood hero was Robert Holmes; during his career, he has complimented the creative use of BBC studios to create "terror and claustrophobia" for Holmes' 1975 script The Ark in Space and has opined that the first episode of The Talons of Weng-Chiang (1977) featured "the best dialogue ever written; it's up there with Dennis Potter".[74] His screenwriting career also began with a Doctor Who submission; in 1987, he submitted a spec script set on an intergalactic news aggregator and broadcaster, which was rejected by script editor Andrew Cartmel, who suggested that he should write a more prosaic story about "a man who is worried about his mortgage, his marriage, [and] his dog".[74]

During the late-1990s, Davies lobbied the BBC to revive the show from its hiatus and reached the discussion stages in late 1998 and early 2002.[75] His proposals would update the show to be better suited for a 21st-century audience: the series would be recorded on film instead of videotape; the length of each episode would double from twenty-five minutes to fifty; episodes would primarily take place on Earth, in the style of the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) UNIT episodes; and Davies would remove "excess baggage" from the mythology such as Gallifrey and the Time Lords.[75] His pitch competed against three others: Dan Freedman's fantasy retelling, Matthew Graham's Gothic-styled pitch, and Mark Gatiss' reboot, which made the Doctor the audience surrogate character, instead of his companions.[76] Davies also took cues from American fantasy television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Smallville, most notably Buffy's concepts of series-long story arcs and the "Big Bad".[77]

In August 2003, the BBC had resolved legal issues over production rights that had surfaced as a result of the jointly produced Universal Studios–BBC–FOX 1996 Doctor Who film, and the Controller of BBC One Lorraine Heggessey and Controller of Drama Commissioning Jane Tranter approached Gardner and Davies to create a revival of the series to air in a primetime slot on Saturday nights, as part of their plan to devolve production to its regional bases. By mid-September, they accepted the deal to produce the series alongside Casanova.[78]

Davies' pitch for Doctor Who was the first one he wrote voluntarily; previously, he opted to outline concepts of shows to commissioning executives and offer to write the pilot episode because he felt that a pitch made him "feel like [he's] killing the work".[79] The fifteen-page pitch outlined a Doctor who was "your best friend; someone you want to be with all the time", the nineteen-year-old Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) as a "perfect match" for the new Doctor, avoidance of the forty-year back story "except for the good bits", the retention of the TARDIS, sonic screwdriver, and Daleks, removal of the Time Lords, and a greater focus on humanity.[79] His pitch was submitted for the first production meeting in December 2003 and a series of thirteen episodes was obtained by pressure from BBC Worldwide and a workable budget from Julie Gardner.[79]

The first new series of Doctor Who featured eight scripts by Davies;the remainder were allocated to experienced dramatists and writers for the show's ancillary releases:[80] Steven Moffat penned a two-episode story, and Mark Gatiss, Robert Shearman, and Paul Cornell each wrote one script.[80] Davies also approached his old friend Paul Abbott and Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling to write for the series; both declined due to existing commitments.[80] Shortly after he secured writers for the show, Davies stated that he had no intention to approach writers for the old series; the only writer he would have wished to work with was Holmes, who died in May 1986.[80]

By early 2004, the show had settled into a regular production cycle. Davies, Gardner, and BBC Controller of Drama Mal Young took posts as executive producers, and Phil Collinson, his old colleague from Granada, took the role of producer.[81] Davies' official role as head writer and executive producer, or "showrunner", consisted of laying a skeletal plot for the entire series, holding "tone meetings" to correctly identify the tone of an episode, often described in one word—for example, the "tone word" for Moffat's "The Empty Child" was "romantic"—and overseeing all aspects of production.[81]

The production team was also tasked with finding a suitable actor for the role of the Doctor. Most notably, they approached film actor Hugh Grant and comedian Rowan Atkinson for the role. By the time Young suggested The Second Coming and Our Friends in the North actor Christopher Eccleston to Davies, Eccleston was one of three left in the running for the role: the other candidates are rumoured in the industry to have been Alan Davies and Bill Nighy.[82] Eccleston created his own characteristics of his rendition of the Doctor based on Davies' life, most notably, his catchphrase "Fantastic!":

[The central message of the show is] seize life, it's brief, enjoy it. The Doctor is always saying "isn't it fantastic?", which is one of Russell's favourite words. "Look at that blue alien, isn't it fantastic? Oh, it's trying to kill me. Never mind, let's solve it."
—Christopher Eccleston[83]

Filming for the show started in July 2004 on location in Cardiff for "Rose".[84] The start of filming created stress among the production team because of unseen circumstances: several scenes from the first block had to be re-shot because the original footage was unusable; the Slitheen prosthetics for "Aliens of London", "World War Three", and "Boom Town" were noticeably different from their computer-generated counterparts; and the BBC came to a gridlock in negotiations with the Terry Nation estate to secure the Daleks for the sixth episode of the series;[84] Davies and episode writer Rob Shearman were forced to rework the script to feature another race, until Gardner was able to secure the rights a month later.[84] After the first production block, which he described as "hitting a brick wall", the show's production was markedly eased as the crew familiarised themselves.[84]

The first episode of the revived Doctor Who, "Rose", aired on 26 March 2005 and received 10.8 million viewers and favourable critical reception. Four days after the transmission of "Rose", Tranter approved a Christmas special and a second series. The press release was overshadowed by a leaked announcement that Christopher Eccleston would leave the role after one series; in response, David Tennant was announced as Eccleston's replacement.[85]

Tennant had been offered the role when he was watching a pre-transmission copy of Casanova with Davies and Gardner. Tennant initially believed the offer was a joke, but after he realised they were serious, he accepted the role and made his first appearance in the dénouement of "The Parting of the Ways", the final episode of the first series.[86][87] Doctor Who continued to be one of BBC's flagship programmes throughout Davies' tenure, and resulted in record sales of the show's official magazine, an increase in spin-off novels, and the launch of the children's magazine Doctor Who Adventures and toy sonic screwdrivers and Daleks.[88] The show's popularity ultimately led to a resurgence in family-orientated Saturday night drama; the ITV science-fiction series Primeval and the BBC historical dramas Robin Hood and Merlin were specifically designed for an early Saturday evening timeslot.[88] He was also approached by the BBC to produce several spin-off series, eventually creating two: Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.[89]

Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures

"With Doctor Who we often had to pretend that bits of Cardiff were London, or Utah, or the planet Zog. Whereas [Torchwood] is going to be honest-to-God Cardiff. We will happily walk past the Millennium Centre and say, 'Look, there's the Millennium Centre'."

Russell T Davies, April 2006[90]

In October 2005, BBC Three Controller Stuart Murphy invited Davies to create a post-watershed Doctor Who spin-off in the wake of the parent series' popularity.[89] Torchwood—named after a anagrammatic title ruse used to prevent leaks of Doctor Who's first series—incorporated elements from an abandoned Davies project titled Excalibur and featured the pansexual 51st century time-traveller Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and a team of alien hunters in Cardiff.[89] The show began production in April 2006 and was marketed through foreshadowing in the main story arc of Doctor Who's second series, which portrayed Torchwood as a covert quasi-governmental organisation that monitors, exploits, and suppresses the existence of extraterrestrial life and technology.[91] Upon its transmission, Torchwood was one of BBC Three's most popular shows; however, it received criticism for "adolescent" use of sexual and violent themes. This led the production team to alter the format to be subtler in its portrayal of adult themes.[89]

Concurrently, he was approached to produce a CBBC show which was described as Young Doctor Who.[92] Davies was reluctant to diminish the mystery of the Doctor's character and instead pitched a show with Elisabeth Sladen as the once-popular companion Sarah Jane Smith: The Sarah Jane Adventures, which follows Sarah Jane and local schoolchildren as they investigate extraterrestrial events in the London Borough of Ealing.[92] The show was given a backdoor pilot as the Doctor Who episode "School Reunion" and premièred in its own right with "Invasion of the Bane" on 1 January 2007. The show was more successful than its 1981 predecessor K-9 and Company; it received more favourable reviews than Torchwood and a significant periphery demographic that compared the show to 1970s Doctor Who episodes.[92]

The workload of managing three separate shows prompted Davies to delegate writing tasks for Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures to other writers so he could focus on writing Doctor Who.[93] After Billie Piper's departure as Rose Tyler in the second series finale "Doomsday", he suggested a third spin-off, Rose Tyler: Earth Defence, a compilation of annual Bank Holiday specials featuring Rose in a parallel universe version of Torchwood.[94] He later reneged on his idea, as he believed that Rose should stay off screen, and abandoned the idea even though it had been budgeted.[94]

The Writer's Tale, and writing the fourth series

Davies in a navy-blue polo shirt, with one hand resting on a copy of his book.
Davies at a book signing for The Writers Tale in Waterstone's, the Trafford Centre, Greater Manchester, on 9 October 2008.

In September 2008, BBC Books, an imprint of Random House Publishing, published The Writer's Tale, a collection of emails between Davies and Radio Times and Doctor Who Magazine journalist Benjamin Cook. Dubbed the "Great Correspondence" by Davies and Cook,[95] The Writer's Tale covers a period between February 2007 and March 2008 and explores his writing processes and the development of his scripts for the fourth series of Doctor Who: "Voyage of the Damned", "Partners in Crime", "Midnight", "Turn Left", "The Stolen Earth", and "Journey's End". The book's first chapter focuses on Cook's "big questions"[96] on Davies' writing style,[95] character development—using the Doctor Who character Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) and the Skins character Tony Stonem (Nicholas Hoult) as contrasting examples—,[97] how he formulated ideas for stories,[98] and the question "why do you write?".[96] After several weeks, Cook assumes an unofficial advisory role to the scriptwriting and the development of the series. The book's epilogue consists of a short exchange between Davies and Cook: Cook changes from his role as "Invisible Ben" to "Visible Ben" and strongly advises to vastly alter the denouement to "Journey's End" from a cliffhanger that led into "The Next Doctor"—which had occurred in the previous three series finales, "The Parting of the Ways", "Doomsday", and "Last of the Time Lords"—to a melancholy ending that showed the Doctor alone in the TARDIS. After three days of deliberation, Davies accepts Cook's suggestion and thanks him for improving both episodes.[99]

After its release, the pair embarked on a five-stop signing tour to promote the book in October 2008 at Waterstone's branches in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, and Cardiff.[100] The book received positive reviews: Veronica Horwell of The Guardian wrote that Davies was the "Scheherazade of Cardiff Bay" and opined that the book should have been twice the published length;[101] Ian Berriman of science fiction magazine SFX gave the book five stars and wrote that it was the only book necessary to gain a knowledge of the show's production and secrets;[102] television critic Charlie Brooker was inspired by the book to devote an entire episode of his BBC Four show Screenwipe to interviewing television writers;[103] and chat show couple Richard and Judy selected the book as a recommended Christmas present in the "Serious Non-Fiction" category of their book club.[104] A second edition of the book, The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter, was released in January 2010 by BBC Books. The second edition added 350 pages of correspondence—before excising draft scripts included in the first edition—and covered Davies' final months as executive producer of Doctor Who as he co-wrote the five-part BBC One Torchwood miniseries Children of Earth, planned David Tennant's departure and Matt Smith's arrival as the Doctor, and moved to the United States.[103]

Post-Doctor Who career

Davies planned to depart from producing the show in 2009 along with Gardner and Collinson, and finish his tenure with four special length episodes. His departure from the show was announced in May 2008, alongside a press release that named Steven Moffat as his successor.[105] His role in late 2008 was split between writing the 2009 specials and preparing for the transition between his and Moffat's production team; one chapter of The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter discusses plans between him, Gardner, and Tennant to announce Tennant's departure live during ITV's National Television Awards in October 2008.[106] His final full script for Doctor Who was finished in the early morning of 4 March 2009, and filming of the episode closed on 20 May 2009.[107][108]

Davies' next project is Cucumber, a BBC Worldwide series about gay men that will air on the American cable network Showtime.[109] Davies also planned to return to art by writing a graphic novel, and was unsuccessfully approached by Lucasfilm to write for the proposed Star Wars live-action television series.[110] Davies moved with Gardner and Jane Tranter to the United States in June 2009,[111][112] and resides in Los Angeles, California.[112] He continues to oversee production of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures; he wrote one story for the 2010 series of The Sarah Jane Adventures, Death of the Doctor, which included Matt Smith as the Doctor and Katy Manning as the Doctor's former companion Jo Grant,[113] and is the executive producer and author of the premiere ("The New World") and finale ("The Blood Line") of Torchwood: Miracle Day, the fourth series of Torchwood.[114] He gave informal assistance to and later served as creative consultant of ex-Doctor Who script editor Helen Raynor's and playwright Gary Owen's BBC Cymru Wales drama Baker Boys. [115]

Writing style

Davies is a self-admitted procrastinator and often waits hours or days for concepts to form before he commits them to the script. In The Writer's Tale, he describes his procrastination by discussing his early career. His early method of dealing with the pressures of delivering a script was to "go out drinking" instead. On one occasion in the mid-1990s, he was at the Manchester gay club Cruz 101 when he thought of the climax to the first series of The Grand. As his career progressed, he instead spent entire nights "just thinking of plot, character, pace, etc" and waited until 2:00 am in the morning, "when the clubs used to shut", to overcome the urge of procrastination.[116] Davies described the sense of anxiety he experiences in an email to Cook in April 2007, in response to Cook's question of "how do you know when to start writing?":

I leave it till the last minute. And then I leave it some more. Eventually, I leave it till I'm desperate. ... I always think, I'm not ready to write it, I don't know what I'm doing, it's just a jumble of thoughts in a state of flux, there's no story, I don't know who A connects to B, I don't know anything! I get myself into a genuine state of panic. ... Normally, I'll leave it till the deadline, and I haven't even started writing. This has become, over the years, a week beyond the deadline, or even more. It can be a week—or weeks—past the delivery date, and I haven't started writing. In fact, I don't have delivery dates any more. I go by the start-of-preproduction date. I consider that to be my real deadline. And then I miss that. It's a cycle that I cannot break. I simply can't help it. It makes my life miserable.
—Russell T Davies to Benjamin Cook, 3 April 2007.[117]

He expanded on his email two weeks later in response to Cook's query about the supposed link between major depressive disorder and creativity. He explained that his anxiety and melancholy during the scriptwriting period still allowed him to keep on top of his work; on the other hand, he thought "Depression with a capital D [didn't have] any such luxury".[118]

Davies explained in length his writing process to Cook in The Writer's Tale. When he creates characters, he initially assigns a character a name and fits attributes around it. In the case of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) in his inaugural series of Doctor Who, he chose the name because he considered it a "good luck charm" after he used it for Lesley Sharp's character in Bob & Rose. He presented his desire to make the show "essentially British" as another justification: he considered Rose to be "the most British name in the world" and feminine enough to subvert the then-current trend of female companions and their "boyish" names, such as Benny, Charley, and Ace. While he was writing for The Grand, the executive producer requested that he change the female lead character's name, a decision that led to the "character never [feeling] right from that moment on".[119] The surname "Harkness", most notably given to Torchwood lead Captain Jack Harkness, is a similar charm, first used in 1993 for the Harkness family in Century Falls, and ultimately derived from the Marvel Universe hero Agatha Harkness,[31] and the surname "Tyler" is similarly used because of his affection for how the surname is spelled and pronounced.[120]

Davies also attempts to channel his writing by using music that fits the theme of the series as a source of inspiration: Doctor Who was typically written while he listened to action-adventure film scores; Queer as Folk was written to Hi-NRG music "to catch [the] sheer clubland drive"; Bob & Rose was written to the Moby album Play, because the two works shared a "urban, sexy, full of lonely hearts at night" image; and The Second Coming shared the concepts of "experimental[ity], anguish, dark[ness], [and] pain" of Radiohead albums.[119] More specifically, he wrote the early drafts of the fourth series Doctor Who episode "Partners in Crime" while he was listening to Mika's Life in Cartoon Motion, and singled out the song "Any Other World" as a "Doctor Who companion song" with lyrics that matched Penny, the planned companion for the fourth series.[121]

When he creates new scripts, Davies considers the dénouement of a story to be representative of the work. He often formulates both the scene and its emotional impact early in the process, but writes the scenes last due to his belief that "[later scenes] can't exist if they aren't informed by where they've come from".[122] Davies is a strong advocate for the continued use of the cliffhanger ending and opposes advertising that sacrifices the impact of storytelling. In pursuit of his quest, he instructs editors to remove scenes from press copies of episodes he writes; cliffhangers were removed from the review copies of the Doctor Who episodes "Army of Ghosts",[123] "The Stolen Earth",[124] and the first part of The End of Time,[125] and Rose Tyler's unadvertised appearance in "Partners in Crime" was excised.[126] His most prolific cliffhanger was in the script of "The Stolen Earth", which created an unprecedented amount of interest in the show.[127] In an interview with BBC News shortly after the episode's transmission, he argued that the success of a popular television series is linked to how well producers can keep secrets and create a "live experience":[128]

It's exciting when you get kids in playground talking about your story, about who's going to live or die, then I consider that a job well done, because that's interactive television, that's what it's all about: it's debate and fun and chat. It's playing a game with the country and I think that's wonderful.
—Russell T Davies, "Struggle to keep Who secret", BBC News Online[128]

Davies attempts to both create imagery and to provide a social commentary in his scripts; for example, he uses camera directions in his scripts more frequently than newer screenwriters to ensure that anyone who reads the script, especially the director, is able to "feel... the pace, the speed, the atmosphere, the mood, the gags, [and] the dread". His stage directions also create an atmosphere by their formatting and avoidance of the first person.[129] Although the basis of several of his scripts derive from previous concepts, he claims that most concepts for storytelling have been already used, and instead tries to tell a relatively new and entertaining plot; for example, the Doctor Who episode "Turn Left" shares its concept most notably with the 1998 film Sliding Doors. Like how Sliding Doors examines two timelines based on whether Helen Quilley (Gwyneth Paltrow) catches a London Underground train, Davies uses the choice of the Doctor's companion to turn left or right at a road intersection to depict either a world with the Doctor, as seen throughout the rest of the fourth series, or an alternate world without the Doctor, examined in its entirety within the episode.[130] The world without the Doctor creates a dystopia which he uses to provide a commentary on Nazi-esque fascism.[131][132] Davies generally tries to make his scripts "detailed, but quite succinct", and eschews the practice of long character and set descriptions; instead, he limits himself to only three adjectives to describe a character and two lines to describe a set to allow the dialogue to describe the story instead.[133]

Davies also uses his scripts to examine and debate on large issues such as sexuality and religion, especially from a homosexual or atheist perspective. He refrains from a dependence on "cheap, easy lines" that provide little deeper insight;[134] his mantra during his early adult drama career was "no boring issues".[23] Queer as Folk is the primary vehicle for his social commentary of homosexuality and advocation of greater acceptance. He used the series to challenge the "primal ... gut instinct" of homophobia by introducing homosexual imagery in contrast to the heterosexual "fundamental image of life, of family, of childhood, [and] of survival".[134][135] Torchwood also tackles LGBT themes by subverting stereotypes and exploring the characters' sexualities,[136] and Bob & Rose examines the issue of a gay man who falls in love with a woman. His most notable commentaries of religion and atheism are The Second Coming and his 2007 Doctor Who episode "Gridlock". The Second Coming's depiction of a contemporary and realistic Second Coming of Jesus Christ eschews the use of religious iconography in favour of a love story underlined by the male lead's "awakening as the Son of God".[129] In contrast, "Gridlock" takes a more pro-active role in debating religion: the episode depicts the unity of the supporting cast in singing the Christian hymns "Abide with Me" and "The Old Rugged Cross" as a positive aspect of faith, but depicts the Doctor as an atheistic hero which shows the faith as misguided because "there is no higher authority".[134] He also includes his commentary as an undertone in other stories; he described the sub-plot of the differing belief systems of the Doctor and Queen Victoria in "Tooth and Claw" as a conflict between "Rational Man versus Head of the Church".[134]


Saving it from extinction.
Frank Cottrell Boyce, when asked his opinion on Davies' greatest contribution to British television drama.[137]

Davies has received recognition for his work since his career as a children's television writer. Davies' first BAFTA award nominations came in 1992 when he was nominated for the "Best Children's Programme (Fiction)" Television Award for his work on Children's Ward.[138] Children's Ward was nominated for the Children's Drama award in 1996 and won the same award 1997.[139][140] His next critically successful series was Bob & Rose; it was nominated for a Television Award for Best Drama Serial and won two British Comedy Awards for Best Comedy Drama and Writer of the Year.[141][142] The Second Coming was nominated for the same Television Award in 2003.[143] His work on The Second Coming also earned him a nomination for a Royal Television Society award.[144]

Most of Davies' recognition came as a result of his work on Doctor Who. In 2005, Doctor Who won two Television Awards—Best Drama Series and the Pioneer Audience Award—and he was awarded the honorary Dennis Potter Award for writing.[145] BAFTA Cymru also gave him that years' Siân Phillips Award for Outstanding Contribution to Network Television.[146] In 2006, he was awarded the accolade of "Industry Player of the Year" at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.[147] In 2007, he was nominated for the "Best Soap/Series" Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award—along with Chris Chibnall, Paul Cornell, Stephen Greenhorn, Steven Moffat, Helen Raynor, and Gareth Roberts—for their work on the third series of Doctor Who.[148] He was again nominated for two BAFTA Awards in 2008: a Television Award for his work on Doctor Who,[149] and the Television Craft Award for Best Writer, for the episode "Midnight".[150] Under his tenure, Doctor Who won five consecutive National Television Awards between 2005 and 2010.[151][152][153][154][155] He has also been nominated for three Hugo Awards, all in the category of "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form": in 2007, the story comprising "Army of Ghosts" and "Doomsday" was defeated by Steven Moffat's "The Girl in the Fireplace";[156] in 2009, the episode "Turn Left" was defeated by Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog;[157] and in 2010, all three of his scripts which were eligible for the award, "The Next Doctor", the Davies–Roberts collaboration "Planet of the Dead", and the Davies–Ford collaboration "The Waters of Mars", were nominated: the award was won by "The Waters of Mars" and the other episodes took second and third place.[158][159]

Davies' work on Doctor Who has similarly been recognised by the public. During his tenure as executive producer, only Steven Moffat's "Silence in the Library", which was scheduled against the final of the second series of Britain's Got Talent, failed to win in its timeslot. The show's viewing figures were consistently high enough that the only broadcasts to have consistently rivaled Doctor Who for viewers in the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board's weekly charts were EastEnders, Coronation Street, Britain's Got Talent, and international football matches.[160] Two of his scripts, "Voyage of the Damned" and "The Stolen Earth", broke audience records for the show by being declared the second most viewed broadcasts of their respective weeks, and "Journey's End" became the first episode to be the most viewed broadcast of the week.[161] The show currently enjoys consistently high Appreciation Index ratings: "Love & Monsters", regarded by Doctor Who fans as his worst script,[162] gained a rating of 76,[163] just short of the 2006 average rating of 77;[164] and the episodes "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End" share the highest rating Doctor Who has received, at 91.[165]

Among Doctor Who fans, his contribution to the show ranks as high as the show's co-creator Verity Lambert: in a 2009 poll of 6,700 Doctor Who Magazine readers, he won the "Greatest Contribution" award with 22.62% of the votes against Lambert's 22.49% share,[166] in addition to winning the magazine's 2005, 2006, and 2008 awards for the best writer of each series.[167] Ian Farrington, who commented on the 2009 "Greatest Contribution" poll, attributed Davies' popularity to his range of writing styles, from the epic "Doomsday" to the minimalistic "Midnight", and his ability to market the show to appeal to a wide audience.[166]

Davies' work on Doctor Who has led to accolades out of the television industry. Between 2005 and 2008, he was included in The Guardian's "Media 100": in 2005, he was ranked the 14th most influential man in the media;[168] in 2006, the 28th;[169] in 2007, the 15th;[170] and in 2008, the 31st.[171] The Independent on Sunday also recognised his contributions to the public by including him on consecutive Pink Lists, which chronicle the achievements of gay and lesbian personalities: in 2005, he was ranked the 73rd most influential gay person;[172] in 2006, the 18th;[172] in 2007, the most influential gay person;[173] in 2008, the 2nd;[174] and in 2009, the 14th.[175] He was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2008 Birthday Honours list for services to drama,[176] and an honorary fellowship by Cardiff University in July 2008.[177]

Production credits

Series Channels Years Functioned as Notes
Writer Producer Other roles
Why Don't You...? BBC1 1985–90 Green tickY Green tickY Director, assistant floor manager, and publicist Various episodes
Play School BBC1 1987 Presenter One episode
On the Waterfront BBC1 1988–89 Sketch writer and script editor
DEF II BBC1 1989 Sketch writer Various episodes, uncredited
Breakfast Serials BBC1 1990 Green tickY Green tickY
Dark Season BBC1 1991 Green tickY Creator
Children's Ward ITV 1992–96 Green tickY Green tickY
Families ITV 1992–93 Storyliner
ChuckleVision BBC1 1992 Green tickY Three episodes
Century Falls BBC1 1993 Green tickY Creator
Cluedo ITV 1993 Green tickY One episode
Do the Right Thing BBC1 1994–95 Scriptwriter Uncredited
The House of Windsor ITV 1994 Green tickY Various episodes, several uncredited
Revelations ITV 1994–95 Green tickY Co-creator Various episodes. Created with Brian B. Thompson and Tony Wood.
Coronation Street ITV 1996 Storyliner Two weeks; cover for permanent storyliner.
Springhill Channel 4/Sky One 1996–97 Green tickY Co-creator and storyliner Seven episodes. Created with Paul Abbott and Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Damaged Goods N/A 1996 Green tickY N/A N/A Virgin New Adventures Doctor Who novel
Coronation Street: Viva Las Vegas! Straight-to-video 1997 Green tickY
The Grand ITV 1997–98 Green tickY 18 episodes, several uncredited
Touching Evil BBC1 1997 Green tickY One episode
Queer as Folk Channel 4 1999–2000 Green tickY Green tickY Creator
Bob & Rose ITV1 2001 Green tickY Green tickY Creator
Linda Green BBC One 2001 Green tickY One episode
The Second Coming ITV1 2003 Green tickY Green tickY Creator and executive producer
Mine All Mine ITV1 2004 Green tickY Green tickY Creator and executive producer
Casanova BBC Three 2005 Green tickY Green tickY Creator and executive producer
Doctor Who BBC One 2005–10 Green tickY Green tickY Executive producer, showrunner, and head writer 31 episodes and three mini-episodes. Simulcast on BBC HD starting with "Planet of the Dead".[178]
Doctor Who Confidential BBC Three 2005–10 Green tickY Executive producer
Tardisodes 2006 Green tickY Executive producer
Torchwood BBC Three (2006–07)
BBC Two (2007)
BBC One (2009)
BBC HD (2006–09)
BBC One (HD)/Starz (2011)
2006– Green tickY Green tickY Creator and executive producer Six episodes
Torchwood Declassified BBC Three 2006– Green tickY Executive producer
The Sarah Jane Adventures CBBC/BBC One 2007–11 Green tickY Green tickY Creator and executive producer One special and one story
Baker Boys BBC One Wales 2011– Creative consultant

Doctor Who franchise writing credits

Year Show Episode
2005 Doctor Who "Rose"
"The End of the World"
"Aliens of London"
"World War Three"
"The Long Game"
"Boom Town"
"Bad Wolf"
"The Parting of the Ways"
"Doctor Who: Children in Need"
"The Christmas Invasion"
2006 "New Earth"
"Tooth and Claw"
"Love & Monsters"
"Army of Ghosts"
Torchwood "Everything Changes"
Doctor Who "The Runaway Bride"
2007 The Sarah Jane Adventures "Invasion of the Bane" (co-written with Gareth Roberts)
Doctor Who "Smith and Jones"
"The Sound of Drums"
"Last of the Time Lords"
"Voyage of the Damned"
2008 "Partners in Crime"
"Turn Left"
"The Stolen Earth"
"Journey's End"
"Music of the Spheres"
"The Next Doctor"
2009 "Planet of the Dead" (co-written with Gareth Roberts)
"Doctor Who: Tonight's the Night"
Torchwood Children of Earth, episodes 1, 3, and 5 (episode 3 co-written with James Moran)
Doctor Who "The Waters of Mars" (co-written with Phil Ford)
2009–10 The End of Time
2010 The Sarah Jane Adventures Death of the Doctor
2011 Torchwood Miracle Day, episodes 1 ("The New World") and 10 ("The Blood Line", co-written with Jane Espenson)[179]



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  • Aldridge, Mark; Murray, Andy (30 November 2008). T is for Television: The Small Screen Adventures of Russell T Davies. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1905287844. 
  • Davies, Russell T; Cook, Benjamin (14 January 2010). The Writer’s Tale: The Final Chapter (2nd ed.). BBC Books. ISBN 184607861X. 


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