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Dr Chris Chibnall (born 1970) is an English television writer and producer, best known as the creator and writer of the award-winning ITV mystery-crime drama Broadchurch (2013–2017). A lifelong fan of the long-running BBC sci-fi Doctor Who, Chibnall has written five episodes of the series under previous showrunners Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat, and was also the head writer for the first two series of the spinoff Torchwood. In 2016, the BBC announced that Chibnall would succeed Moffat to become the showrunner and head writer of Doctor Who, beginning with the eleventh series.

Chris Chibnall
Chris Chibnall by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Chris Chibnall at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con
Born1970 (age 48–49)
EducationSt Mary's University, Twickenham
Alma materUniversity of Sheffield (MA)
OccupationWriter, producer, executive producer
Years active1988–present
Notable work
Doctor Who
Spouse(s)Madeline Chibnall

Early life and careerEdit

Brought up in Formby, he studied drama at St Mary's University, Twickenham, subsequently gaining an MA in Theatre and Film from the University of Sheffield.[1] His early career included work as a football archivist and floor manager for Sky Sports,[2] before leaving to work as an administrator for various theatre companies.[citation needed] From 1996 to 1999 he worked as administrator with the experimental theatre company Complicite,[3] (where he met his wife Madeline) before leaving to become a full-time writer.[citation needed]

Theatre writingEdit

Chibnall's first short play was produced as part of Contact Theatre's Young Playwright's Festival in 1988, and was directed by Lawrence Till.[4] While studying at college, he wrote two plays, Victims and Now We Are Free, which were performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and directed by Edward Lewis. In 1998, he became Writer in Residence with GRiP Theatre Company, writing three full-length plays, including Best Daze and Gaffer! and several short plays. Chibnall's successor as Writer in Residence was Matthew Broughton. Gaffer! was revived at Southwark Playhouse in 2004.

Chibnall took part in an attachment at the Royal National Theatre Studio in 1999, followed by a year-long attachment to Soho Theatre in 2000, which resulted in his play Kiss Me Like You Mean It, produced at Soho Theatre and directed by Abigail Morris. Its cast included Catherine McCormack, Jason Hughes, Marlene Sidaway and Harry Towb. The play was shortlisted for the Meyer-Whitworth Award, and has subsequently been produced in various venues around the world, including a successful three-month run in Paris in 2004.

Television writingEdit

Chibnall's first produced script for television was the successful monologue Stormin' Norman, starring James Bolam, made by Carlton Television for ITV.

In 2001 he was approached, together with writer Nigel McCrery, to develop the format for a drama series[5] which became Born and Bred. With a cast including Bolam and Michael French, Born and Bred ran on BBC One for four years from 2002 to 2005. Chibnall served as head writer and consultant producer (later executive producer), writing seventeen of its thirty-six hour-long episodes.

Chibnall was the only writer other than the show's creators to write for both series of the double International Emmy-award-winning BBC One police drama Life on Mars (2006–07). He was part of the production team who accepted the 2007 BAFTA Audience Award onstage at the London Palladium.

During 2005, Chibnall was in charge of developing a proposed fantasy series involving the mythical magician Merlin for BBC One's early Saturday evening family drama slot. Despite several scripts being written, BBC Head of Drama Jane Tranter eventually decided not to green-light the project,[6] although it later emerged, without Chibnall's involvement, as Merlin (2008–2012).

In 2007, Dick Wolf and Kudos Film and Television selected Chibnall to become the show runner on ITV1's Law & Order: UK, a police procedural/legal drama based on the original US series.[7] Chibnall was the lead writer and executive producer, writing six of the first thirteen episodes based on scripts from the US series. ITV commissioned a second run of thirteen episodes,[8][9] but having set up the series Chibnall made the decision to leave the programme, to focus on other writing projects.[10]

Chibnall also show-ran Camelot, an adult retelling of the Arthurian legend for the Starz network. It went to air early in April 2011 and was filmed in Ardmore Studios near Dublin.[11][12] The show was cancelled after a single season, though again Chibnall claimed he had chosen not to be involved in the second series in any case, due to other writing priorities.[13]

In December 2013, Chibnall wrote a two-part dramatisation The Great Train Robbery, which tells the story of the Great Train Robbery on 8 August 1963. Coincidentally, the first part was shown on the same day that train robber Ronnie Biggs died.[14][15][16]

In 2013, Chibnall created and wrote a detective series for ITV called Broadchurch, starring David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Arthur Darvill, Pauline Quirke and David Bradley. The series received with overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and audiences alike.[citation needed] It followed the story of the fictional seaside town of Broadchurch, struggling to come to terms with the possible murder of a young boy. Viewing figures peaked at nearly 9 million viewers in the finale.[17] Due to its popularity, a second series was announced at the end of the first series,[18] with location filming finishing in October 2014.[19] The second series aired in 2015 and a third and final series aired in 2017.[20]

Doctor WhoEdit

Chibnall is a long-time fan of Doctor Who, and appeared on the BBC discussion programme Open Air in 1986 as a representative of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, criticising the quality of The Trial of a Time Lord (1986), especially the Terror of the Vervoids segment.[21]

In 2005, Chibnall was appointed head writer and co-producer of science-fiction drama Torchwood. The series, a spin-off from Doctor Who, premiered on BBC Three in October 2006 to a then record-breaking audience for a non-sport programme digital channel broadcast in the UK.[22] The programme went on to win "Best New Drama" at the 2007 TV Quick Awards and "Best Drama Series" at the BAFTA Cymru 2007 awards.[23] The series has also been nominated for both Hugo and Saturn awards.,[24] without winning either. In the US, the programme has been broadcast on BBC America and HDNet, to critical acclaim.[25] Chibnall wrote eight episodes during the first two series, including both series' finales, and the premiere episode of series two. He worked closely with Russell T Davies across all aspects of the show's production.[citation needed]

While working on Torchwood, Chibnall also penned the 2007 episode "42" for the third series of Doctor Who.

He returned to Doctor Who for the 2010 season, penning the two-part story "The Hungry Earth" / "Cold Blood", which reintroduced the Silurians to the series. Chibnall also wrote the second and fourth episodes for the seventh series in 2012, "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" and "The Power of Three", as well as the online/red button exclusive episode Pond Life. He later penned another short, P.S., but it was never filmed, and was eventually presented online in storyboard format.

In January 2016, the BBC announced that Chibnall would replace Steven Moffat as executive producer of Doctor Who and would be the head writer and executive producer of his first series in 2018. The series will be the eleventh in the revived serial.[26] Matt Strevens is set to be an executive producer alongside Chibnall, after having also been an executive producer for An Adventure in Space and Time.[27] When discussing whether the new Doctor would be a woman, he was originally quoted in February 2017, as saying "Nothing is ruled out but I don't want the casting to be a gimmick and that's all I can say”.[28] After the announcement in July 2017, Chibnall said, " ...welcome Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor. I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice."[29][30]

As with the last change of showrunners, Chibnall wrote the final moments of the episode "Twice Upon a Time", so as to allow him to write Whittaker's first lines on the show. This happened in the 2010 special The End of Time, when Moffat took over for Russell T. Davies in the final moments of the episode, writing Matt Smith's first words as the Eleventh Doctor.[31]

Selected creditsEdit

Production Notes Broadcaster
Life on Mars BBC One
Torchwood BBC Two/BBC Three
Doctor Who BBC One/BBC Red Button
Law & Order: UK ITV
  • TV Film (2011)

Creator, 24 episodes:

The Great Train Robbery
  • TV Film (2013)
Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway ITV


  1. ^ "Chris Chibnall – Before and After Broadchurch". Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  2. ^ Southall, J.R. "Interview: Chris Chibnall - Part 2 DOCTOR WHO And Beyond". Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  3. ^ Bruno Schulz The Street Of Crocodiles, p. 14, at Google Books
  4. ^ "Kiss Me Like You Mean It Written by Chris Chibnall".
  5. ^ Born and Bred
  6. ^ "News". Dreamwatch. Titan Magazines (137). January 2006.
  7. ^ Braxton, Greg (11 March 2009). "'Law and Order' gets an Old Bailey twist". The News Tribune. Tacoma, Washington, USA: The McClatchy Company. Retrieved 12 March 2009.[dead link]
  8. ^ Welsh, James (10 January 2008). "'Torchwood' writer to lead UK 'Law & Order". Digital Spy. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  9. ^ Chibnall, Chris (8 July 2009). "No, they did ask..." Chris Chibnall's Twitter page. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
  10. ^ Chibnall, Chris (28 September 2009). "They're shooting S2 now..." Chris Chibnall's Twitter page. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
  11. ^ "Chibnall: 'Sex is part of Camelot'". 10 August 2010.
  12. ^ "'Camelot' starts shooting in Ireland".
  13. ^ House, © Future Publishing Limited Quay; Ambury, The; Engl, Bath BA1 1UA All rights reserved; 2008885, Wales company registration number. "SFX - GamesRadar+".
  14. ^ Withnall, Adam (18 December 2013). "Ronnie Biggs dead: Great Train Robbery fugitive dies aged 84". The Independent. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  15. ^ Campbell, Duncan (18 December 2013). "Ronnie Biggs picks his moment one last time". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  16. ^ Campbell, Duncan (18 December 2013). "Ronnie Biggs, face of Great Train Robbery, slips away with perfect timing". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  17. ^ Dex, Robert. "Broadchurch finale pulls in 8.7 million viewers as ITV mystery drama ends". The Standard. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  18. ^ Plunkett, John (23 April 2013). "Broadchurch to return for second series after nearly 9m see killer unveiled". The Guardian. London.
  19. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Broadchurch 2 producer thanks West Dorset residents for their support during filming".
  20. ^ "ITV commissions a third series of Broadchurch".
  21. ^ "DWMail". Doctor Who Magazine. Panini Comics (375): 11. 8 November 2006.
  22. ^ "Torchwood scores record audience". BBC News. 23 October 2006.
  23. ^ "UK | Wales | Dr Who sweeps Bafta Cymru board". BBC News. 28 April 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  24. ^ "Torchwood". 22 October 2006 – via IMDb.
  25. ^ "Popular Search Results at Metacritic - Metacritic".
  26. ^ "Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat quits to be replaced by Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall". Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  27. ^ "Everything we know so far about 'Doctor Who' Season 11". 2 August 2016.
  28. ^ Clarke, Andrew (27 February 2017). "Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall creates laughs at the New Wolsey". East Anglian Times. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  29. ^ "Introducing Jodie Whittaker - The Thirteenth Doctor". BBC Media Centre. BBC. 16 July 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  30. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (16 July 2017). "'Doctor Who': Jodie Whittaker Revealed As 13th Time Lord, First Female In Role". Deadline Hollywood.
  31. ^ Jeffery, Morgan (23 March 2017). "Doctor Who: Steven Moffat confirms that Chris Chibnall will write the new Doctor's first words". Digital Spy.

External linksEdit