Russell T Davies, the celebrated former showrunner on Doctor Who, has been presented with a major award. On the 18th January, Davies was awarded the highly coveted ‘Outstanding Contribution to Writing Award’ at the annual Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards held in London. Davies had previously been awarded the OBE for services to drama in 2008, the same year he left Doctor Who.
The Writers’ Guild award was presented to Davies by Paul Abbott, writer and creator of Shameless and State of Play, in recognition of Davies’ wide-ranging work in television, from children’s shows to the gay experience to science fiction. Both Davies and Abbott belong to the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB).
Davies said of his award: “For me, this is the greatest of “For me, this is the greatest of honours, coming from fellow writers, and I’m enormously grateful to the Writers’ Guild – for this, and for the work it does for writers everywhere.”
Davies is responsible for reviving Doctor Who after it went dormant for 16 years. He brought back the show with the Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, and then the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant. Davies had been a huge Doctor Who fan since childhood, and longed to see the show return to glory on television. After years of writing successful shows, such as Children’s Ward, Queer as Folk, and Bob & Rose, he came up with a winning strategy for a new Doctor Who. The episodes would clock in at 45 minutes and the action would generally occur on Earth. Filming began in 2004. The first of the new episodes, “Rose”, aired on 26 March 2005. Davies, also the Doctor Who’s showrunner, wrote eight scripts that first season, and the revitalized show was an instant hit.
During his tenure, he wrote some of the greatest modern episodes of Doctor Who, including two perfect, back to back stories in the fourth season: Midnight and Turn Left. Midnight tells a perfectly low-tech story about the Doctor and a few fellow travelers on a bus expedition on the planet Midnight, which is poisoned by an xtonic star. There is no life on Midnight…or is there life on Midnight? Turn Left focuses on Donna (Catherine Tate), and the story resembles the 1998 film Sliding Doors – it provides two versions of a single timeline. What happens if Donna turns to the left? What happens if she turns right?
Davies left Doctor Who is 2008 but stayed in its orbit as the executive producer of two spin-off shows, Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures. His newest creation is a 90-minute production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one play in a BBC spring series that commemorates the four centuries since the playwright’s death.
WGGB (Writers’ Guild of Great Britain) is a trade union representing professional writers in TV, film, theatre, radio, books, poetry, animation and videogames. Members also include emerging and aspiring writers.
The Writers’ Guild Awards ceremony is an annual, red-carpet event that has featured high-profile winners since it first launched in 1961. The evening gives writers the chance to honour their peers, and to celebrate the importance of writers and writing to the creative industries, in the UK and abroad.