DOCTOR WHO executive producer Caroline Skinner suddenly resigned on March 13, effective immediately. Faith Penhale, who was head of drama at BBC Wales, was quickly named her replacement.
The switch is not expected to cause any problems for the balance of series seven, which is already in the can, but the effect on the show’s 50th anniversary celebrations remains to be seen. The anniversary story begins filming on Monday, and while Penhale will help shepherd that production, word is she won’t be staying, and the hunt for permanent replacement is under way.
Skinner issued the following statement:
“It has been an honour to have been a part of Doctor Who, and a privilege to have worked with Steven Moffat and Matt Smith on this extraordinary show. I have hugely enjoyed my time in BBC Wales and would like to thank Faith Penhale, and our wonderful production team for their unending commitment and brilliance. I will miss them all enormously, but I’m leaving Doctor Who in fine form, with the new series starting at Easter and the fantastic plans for the 50th Anniversary already underway. I am delighted to be now returning to BBC Drama Production in London as an executive producer, and the new opportunities and projects that will bring.”
Incoming executive producer Penhale had this to say:
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Caroline for her contribution to Doctor Who since taking on the role in 2011, on behalf of both the BBC and the show. She leaves the show in good shape – there’s a brilliant new series starting on Easter Saturday that will see the official arrival of the Doctor’s new companion! And the 50th Anniversary plans are on track to deliver audiences an unmissable event! I wish her all the very best for the future.”
I know the strangest part of this for us fans is the idea of someone leaving DW voluntarily. If I landed a job on the show, it would take a Dalek disintegrator to loosen my grip and get me out of the door! But, apparently, something on the horizon is beckoning to Caro strongly enough to make her jump ship. Or maybe she was pushed overboard.
There is a story going around Cardiff that Caro’s departure is related to a very public fight that she and showrunner Steven Moffat got into at the BBC showcase event last month. Apparently it was ugly and embarrassing to the Beeb, so it probably played some kind of role in her resignation. (If the BBC had to choose between her and the Grand Moff, well… no contest….)
I knew very little about Skinner, so I have no idea if DW was a dream project for her or just another assignment among many. Was she a lifelong Whovian? If not, perhaps she left in order to pursue her own particular white whale, the show she has been dreaming of working on for forever. If so, I wish her the best. Her legacy at DOCTOR WHO is brief, but definitely a case of quality over quantity. She started off a bit rough with the shaky “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe,” but series seven has been one for the ages, IMHO — with “Asylum of the Daleks” destined to take its place in the upper pantheon of best stories ever.
Sources also say Skinner will finish working on Mark Gatiss’ BBC Two drama about the creation of DOCTOR WHO, called AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME, as her swan song before moving back to BBC drama in London.