For the first time since the show returned in 2005, Doctor Who showrunner, Steven Moffat, has hired a writer whose resumé includes a story from the classic era, meaning its unbroken run from 1963 to 1989. The BBC announced in an upcoming issue of the official publication of the show, Doctor Who Magazine, that Rona Munro will be writing an episode for series/season 10 titled, “The Eaters of Light.” Though the show has brought back a director and actors from the classic run, this is the first time a classic Who writer has been commissioned to write for the revived show.
Munro has the distinction of writing the final serial for the classic run, the Seventh Doctor story, “Survival,” in 1989 which sent the show––with an addendum by script editor at the time, Andrew Cartmel––into what has been called “The Wilderness Years,” meaning the span of mostly Who-less time between 1989 to 2005. Despite the views of some who felt she may have been “slumming” by writing for the dying show, she has said it was her “dream job” despite being “a mournful time in the show’s history.”
Cartmel brought Munro to the show in 1989 because of her impressive history writing for the stage and film, which was an important decision for a series that was remarkably lacking in female representation in production. This is even more remarkable in the face of the fact that the show was basically created by a woman, Verity Lambert. The modern iteration of the show has drawn the same criticism from many fans and critics––even notable Who writer and fan, Neil Gaiman, has called it out. In the last few years, Moffat has made some steps to remedy the situation. However, as of 2015’s series 9, a total of only five women have written for the show out of the 90-plus hires made since 1963.
Of her series 10 episode, Munro is enthusiastic, noting that she tried to capture what made her a scared but rapt fan as a child:
When I was very small and watching the First Doctor, I had a special cushion known as “Rona’s Doctor Whocushion.” I would hide my face in it when the Daleks or other monsters appeared on screen! “The Eaters of Light” is my version of other stories that have haunted me for almost as long.
Series 10, it should be noted, has been slated to be Steven Moffat’s final as showrunner. He has been at the helm since series 5 in 2010 and has been very controversial among the fan base even as his tenure ushered the show into becoming a worldwide phenomenon (especially with Matt Smith in the role of the Doctor) as well as covering the well-regarded 50th anniversary story, “The Day of the Doctor,” which brought David Tennant back to his role of the 10th Doctor alongside Matt Smith.