Stephen Russell Davies (born 27 April 1963), better known as Russell T. Davies, is a British producer and screenwriter, born in Swansea. He added the T to his name because there was already a Russell Davies in UK media.
Known as RTD (or sometimes "Rusty") by Whovians, he has a penchant for naming characters "Tyler" and/or "Smith". He also tends to inject Camp and Technobabble in very large doses, and his characters are highly likely to be bisexual.
Originally from a background in children's TV, he wrote and produced a number of adult dramas between the mid 90s and the revival of Doctor Who in 2005, most notably Queer as Folk, and soon became one of the most influential and popular TV writers in the UK.
He was one of the executive producers on Doctor Who, along with Mal Young, Julie Gardner and Phil Collinson. RTD, however, was in charge of the creative aspect and is the "showrunner" as a US person would think of it. He is responsible for the revival of Doctor Who in 2005, and he also created its spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Davies has written several Doctor Who episodes and specials over his tenure as producer, and been responsible for rewrites on many more. He stepped down from the position following the conclusion of production on the David Tennant era, handing the reins to Steven Moffat.
Master of the Wham Line and the Wham Episode: in his five years on Doctor Who, he was infamous for leaving the penultimate episode on a massive cliffhanger to whet appetite for the finale. He's also critical of TV executives using "Tonight, Someone Dies" and similar catchlines in commercials and claims that it impacts ratings — and admittedly, he has a point.
Liberally uses Author Appeal, and as a result, placed Wales firmly in the centre of the Whoniverse alongside London. Also became famous for finally upgrading all the Ho Yay subtext in Doctor Who to proper TV canon, for abolishing No Hugging, No Kissing in the series forever, and for dialing all of the above — Wales, Ho Yay and tons of sex — Up to Eleven and beyond in Torchwood.
Was awarded an OBE in 2008.
- Children's Ward
- Bob and Rose
- The Second Coming
- Queer as Folk
- The 2005 revival of Doctor Who (31 episodes, plus one 2005 Children in Need special, written or co-written, 2005-2010)
- Torchwood, spinoff of Doctor Who (Six episodes written or co-written)
- The Sarah Jane Adventures, another Doctor Who spinoff (Three episodes written or co-written)
- Wizards vs. Aliens (co-created with Phil Ford, two episodes written)
- Cucumber and sibling shows Banana and Tofu
Tropes applying to him:
- Big Fun: He's rather large, and is always seen to be jolly and enthusiastic.
- Lying Creator: It has become well-known in the Who fandom to never trust anything Davies says.
- For one thing, he once said that he didn't like the Master and wasn't planning on bringing him back. This proved to definitely not be the case.
- Davies also said he didn't like multi-Doctor stories, only to dedicate a whole Children in Need short to one.
- This has caused fans to distrust him when he says something sensible and thankfully true, such as "It's better not to show the Time War."
- Davies used a phony name, an anagram of Doctor Who, during production of the 2005 series to prevent would-be pirates from spotting the tapes. That phony name would later become the name of a spinoff series.
- After "Doomsday", he told the press Rose was gone for good. He told Billie Piper, "See you in two years".
- RTD's still lying in regards to Doctor Who even after stepping down from it. He said he would never write an episode for Matt Smith's Doctor. Guess who guest stars in the RTD-penned The Sarah Jane Adventures story "Death of the Doctor".
- Promoted Fanboy: He's very much a fan of Doctor Who who also got to bring it back and be the showrunner.
- Ridiculous Procrastinator: He has admitted to being this himself, and isn't happy about it.
Recurring and over-arching tropes in his Whoniverse work (Doctor Who, Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures the Doctor Who Expanded Universe) :
- Alien Invasion: Doctor Who, Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures, all frequently feature these.
- Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: Most of them are taken care of in just an episode or two.
- Aliens in Cardiff:
- The trope namer via Doctor Who and Torchwood. There is a dimensional rift in Cardiff that lets aliens and other entities through, which the Doctor encounters on occasion and Torchwood encounters every episode.
- More generally, he made aliens in mundane settings a big part of his revival of Who.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Frequently uses this to move his plots along.
- Arc Villain: Each of his Half-Arc Seasons in Doctor Who had them:
- The Daleks were indirectly this for Season 1: Their attack in the season finale caused the Bad Wolf message to spread through time and space, connecting to past episodes.
- The Cybermen for Season 2, given how they first appear mid-season, and then come back for the season finale.
- The Master for Season 3, who was manipulating events on present-day Earth the entire season, and revealed himself enacted his plans in the finale.
- The Daleks and Davros for Season 4, whose plans for the destruction of all reality left fingerprints through several episodes of the season.
- Both the Master and Rassilon with the Time Lords were this for the 2009 series of specials, seeing as how they were both involved in a prophecy that haunted the Doctor through the specials.
- Assimilation Plot: Many of the villains on his run of Doctor Who get involved in this at some point. It's the entire purpose of the Cybermen and the Empty Child, and the Daleks and Master have tried it as well.
- Author Appeal: Wales, Ho Yay, self-aware campiness, and, in Doctor Who, the Daleks.
- Astronomic Zoom: He likes to open Doctor Who episodes this way. "Rose", The Christmas Invasion", "The Runaway Bride" and "The Eleventh Hour"
- Attack of the Killer Whatever: He frequently creates monsters and threats out of innocuous Earth things: mannequins, stretches of skin, game shows, Santa Clauses and Christmas trees, monks, little old ladies, giant crabs, angels, human fat, GP Ss, beetles, manta rays, water... and that's just Doctor Who.
- Back for the Finale: Uses characters for this a lot.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Torchwood is definitely more so than Doctor Who.
- Camp: He made sure the Doctor Who revival retained plenty of the classic show's campiness.
- Character Check: Applied this to characters he brought back in DW's revival.
- Over the course of the classic series, the Daleks grew from a single-minded race united under an emperor or other leader to a conflicted race fighting a civil war amongst themselves, largely due to the introduction of Davros, who played his army of Daleks against the rest. When they reappeared in the new series, the Time War backstory completely removed all mentions of infighting between themselves, and Davros does not appear for several seasons. Their stripped-down and muted design in the new series also harkens back to their first appearances in the 1960s, rather than the more colorful and trimmed looks in the later eras of the classic show.
- During the classic series, less focus was put on the Cybermen's aim of assimilation, and they became generic robotic soldiers, often displaying being downright emotional as well. In the new series, the emphasis was placed on the Body Horror and Loss of Identity aspects of their nature, more like their debut appearance.
- The John Simm's Master's first appearance harkens back to the original/Delgado master by not having a decaying body, pulling a Grand Theft Me, or having any worries about his mortality, and being only concerned with evil and power, unlike the previous incarnations from Pratt onward. In his second appearance, after his resurrection, he again has a decaying body.
- The TARDIS started out broken; completely unsteerable to the point where the Doctor can never leave a place and time that he's not completely done with, because he can never return. During the Fourth Doctor's tenure, he switched to using the "secondary control room", which allowed him to steer the TARDIS for the first time (onscreen, anyway), although due to his personality he often wouldn't and even installed a "Randomiser" to make control of it impossible again. The new series establishes right from the very beginning that the Doctor knows how to fly his TARDIS now, showing it capable of maneuvers stated to be completely impossible for most of the Classic Doctors (the earliest example being the Ninth Doctor's And Another Thing... rematerialization in "Rose"), but every so often a story will start with the Doctor mis-steering the TARDIS and ending up somewhere unwanted, such as "The Idiot's Lantern" ('50s Britain and not '50s America), "Tooth and Claw" (the Victorian era rather than the '70s), and completely Deconstructed in "Aliens of London" (a year after Rose left instead of a few hours).
- Civvie Spandex: Both the incarnations of the Doctor under his run wore decidedly modern clothing as their normal costumes, as opposed to the more old-fashioned and anachronistic costumes of many of the classic series Doctors.
- Darker and Edgier:
- His take on Doctor Who's mythos was this. The premise was altered from an exiled member of an alien race wandering around the universe, to an alien who had actually killed his entire race, and had no small amount of angst about it, wandering around the universe.
- Torchwood was this to Doctor Who, with more violence, harsher language, and grim themes.
- Evil Is Hammy: Not always, but his villains do tend to ham it up. Goes along with the Camp.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: See the Hotter and Sexier entry below.
- Grand Finale:"The End of Time" was one for both his time as the showrunner and David Tennant's time as the Tenth Doctor.
- Half-Arc Season: Made these the structure of Doctor Who in his revival of it.
- Hotter and Sexier: While never actually explicit, Russell's run on Doctor Who contained more references to sex than most of the Classic Era.
- Then he produced Torchwood, which was often very explicit.
- Joker Immunity: He has a tendency to wipe villains out, then bring them back/reveal they weren't dead after all. Examples from Doctor Who are the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Master, Lady Cassandra, the Time Lords note ...
- Last of His Kind: His concept behind the Doctor Who made the Doctor into this.
- Lighter and Softer: The Sarah Jane Adventures was this to Doctor Who and Torchwood.
- Monster of the Week: Doctor Who, Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures all follow this format.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Nazi-esque villains do tend to pop up in his stories:
- The Daleks have always been like this, and Davies sticks to that very well. It was even lampshaded in the 2008 episode "Journey's End" where Martha teleports to Germany to play her part in activating the Osterhagen Key, and Daleks can be heard shouting in German "Exterminieren!"
- In "The End of Time", the Master transforms everyone on Earth into copies of himself (a blonde, blue-eyed Caucasian man) and then declares that "There is no human race. There is only the Master race!"
- In "Turn Left", an alternate-universe version of Britain is ruled by a fascist government that, among other things, ends up transporting immigrants to "labor camps". WWII veteran Wilf spots the resemblance.
- Noodle Incident: He'll reference these, oftentimes for comedy, but other times for more dramatic purposes, see the entry for Nothing Is Scarier below.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Very little was revealed about the Time War after it was first mentioned in his tenure; vieweres were only given delightful little hints with phrases like the Nightmare Child, the Skaro Degradations, or the Fall of Arcadia.
- Up until Season 4, nothing much was known about the Shadow Proclamation other than it was an ancient force of law.
- Reimagining the Artifact: Pulled this off with a few different elements while resurrecting Doctor Who:
- The Daleks had suffered some extreme Villain Decay by the end of the Classic series, becoming quite easily explodable and harmless even in great numbers, as well as having no agency thanks to the introduction of their leader, Davros. This was not helped by the species being a UK cultural meme for forty years - impressions of their obnoxious, squawky voices and jokes about their use of plungers as weapons and (imagined) inability to climb stairs were something of a hack comedian standard routine. The new series reintroduced the Daleks in the episode "Dalek", in which we find out that the Dalek race was on the brink of annihilating the Doctor's race, and the Doctor had to commit genocide against both species in order to save the universe itself - the Dalek in the episode gets a much less shrill, much scarier and much more expressive voice than the original series Daleks had, is treated realistically as the death machine that it is, and incorporated elements from the very first Dalek serial (such as the idea of Daleks as objects of pity as well as revulsion) in order to make them just as terrifying as they had first been forty years ago. Throughout both Davies' (and later Moffat's) showrunning of the revival era, there's also been an added emphasis on delving into the psychology of the Daleks and the Doctor's relationship with them. (For example, they claim they grew stronger in fear of him. He's tempted by them to lose his temper several times, and also ponders in private whether he could maybe redeem them one day, somehow.) This effort helped the Daleks return to the sort of nuance and cred they had as antagonists back in the 60s and 70s. And Davros, previously overused in the classic era after his first appearance, has had a guest role in only one story during RTD's run.
- The TARDIS' police box design. At first, in The '60s, it wasn't anachronistic, but nowadays, characters ask "What is a 'police public call box?'" and the broken chameleon circuit, though part of the setting from day one to a smaller degreenote , is sometimes a running gag (It's fixed! ...and its new form is not under the Doctor's control, highly inconvenient, and at least you know where to enter the police box version. It's fixed! ...and when it scans the area and decides on an "appropriate" form, it's always a police box. Or Donna can fix it with her new Time Lord knowledge! ...which is about to burn out her brain, and what comes next is not funny.) and the Doctor has at least once admitted that he could probably fix it if he really wanted to, but likes it the way it is. Davies's era introduced (and named) the idea that the TARDIS has a Perception Filter that makes people not notice it even if its apparent form isn't period-appropriate.
- The Cybermen started out fairly scary for the 60s, with their emotionless desire to convert other beings into more Cybermen. As time went by, less focus was put on the assimilation aspect of their personalities, and they became generic robotic soldiers, often openly displaying emotions as well. When they reappeared in the new series (as parallel universe counterparts that never had the originals' Weaksauce Weaknesses), much more focus was placed on the Body Horror and Loss of Identity aspects of their nature, making them scary once more. The way of defeating them went from 'throw gold coins at them' to 'give them their emotions back,' creating heart-wrenching scenes of Cybermen screaming in agony, dropping dead, or outright exploding as they were destroyed by the sheer horror of what they'd become. (However, Villain Decay set in once again as this became easier to do.)
- Revisiting the Roots: How he began the Doctor Who revival. The Ninth Doctor's tenure, while very different in a lot of ways, stripped away a lot of continuity for a 'back to basics' approach and re-established points about the tone and the Doctor's character that had been part of the show right at the very beginning but were forgotten about later. The Doctor being a refugee from a terrible war who could never return home was part of the initial series premise (that got changed by Terrance Dicks when he actually got to write The Reveal) and agony over changing the past and the Dirty Business involved in world-saving were emblematic tropes of the early years that soon got buried by the Monster of the Week premise the show developed - and RTD dug them both back up again in order to connect new viewers to the Doctor. While the show drew a lot from the Expanded Universe, it was much closer in tone and feel to the old show than the books had become by that point.
- Signature Style:
- He tends to introduce new shows by using a Naïve Newcomer Genre Refugee Action Girl Next Door as an Audience Surrogate. This technique is used in Doctor Who, Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
- Camp, Camp, CAMP!
- Using Wham Lines and Wham Shots to set up extreme Cliffhangers.
- He has a habit of creating characters with disembodies heads/faces. The Face of Boe (a giant disembodies head) and Cassandra (a stretch of skin with only a face on it) both appear in "The End of the World", a characters gets turned into a face on a slab of stone at the ends of "Love and Monsters", the Toclafane in the Season 3 finale are nothing but emaciated faces inside their spheres, and Max Capricorn in "Voyage of the Damned" is revealed to be a cyborg with a human head on top of a mechanical, boxy body.
- Soft Reboot: When Doctor Who came back in 2005, Davies could adequately be described as a man utterly terrified of continuity running amok, like in the 1980s. Information about the Doctor and the show's lore was tightly controlled and parceled out in the tiniest possible portions. When it became an enormous hit, he relaxed this policy (cf. "School Reunion"), but never truly abolished it. Even the montage of previous Doctors in "The Next Doctor", the most 'for the fans' moment in his tenure, was included solely on the suggestion of producer Julie Gardner, whose judgement he trusted specifically because she was not a classic Whovian.
- Particularly used with the Cybermen. In the revived show, they were given a new origin, a new design, and a new place in the show, but since they hailed from another universe they were stated to be different from the Cybermen of the classic series.
- Stepford Smiler: Both the Ninth and Tenth Doctors were this, due to their guilt about what they did in the Time War, Ten more so than Nine. Most of the main characters of Torchwood are this to a degree, too.
- Technobabble: He isn't shy with this.
- Subverted in "Rose": Not wanting to scare new viewers away in the very first episode of Who's revival, he avoided giving long scientific-sounding explanations. The explanation of the Nestene's plastic-controlling powers isn't really elaborated on, and the substance the Doctor uses to defeat it is called "anti-plastic" and left at that.
- Tragic Villain: His take on classic monsters and villains in Doctor Who often brings out their more human and sympathetic side, with this being the result. Notable examples are:
- The Daleks. A recurring element with them under Davies's run was them becoming "infected" with human thoughts and emotions. The Doctor also points out how they live their whole lives without being touched and and alone.
- The Cybermen are shown being converted from human to Cyber form, and the tragedy of it. When their emotional inhibitors are destroyed, they're shown to be horrified by what they are before dying from the shock of their emotions returning.
- The Master, once it's revealed that the constant drumming in his head turned him mad, and that he's been used as a tool for Rassilon all along.
- The Unpronounceable: A Running Gag in Doctor Who:
- Blon Fel Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen from the planet Raxacoricofallapatorius. Getting the planet's name right became a Running Gag of its own.
- The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe. This one so stumped Simon Pegg the one time he had to say it that he was told to just say it the best he could and a roaring sound was added in post-production to cover his very minor mispronunciation.
- And in Voyage of the Damned we have Bannakaffalatta.
- Urban Fantasy: Most of the episodes under his run centered around aliens in regular earthly settings, both present and past.
Tropes in and shared with his other works:
- Alien Invasion: Common in the Whoniverse, and Wizards Vs Aliens revolves around one.
- Author Tract: In projects where he's served as showrunner, he constitutes a mild case of this (for sufficiently flexible values of 'mild'). While he does tend to harp on about homosexuality and atheism a lot, he rarely cops out, and he makes an effort not to devalue the opposing views of either topic- being straight or religious is just as likely to be explored in one of his stories.
- Camp: Pops up often, usually with a sense of self-awareness. He produced Doctor Who and a show called Wizards Vs. Aliens, for crying out loud!
- Creator Thumbprint: The surnames "Smith" and "Tyler" tend to show up no matter what show he's working on.
- Everyone Is Bi: Bisexual people are very common in his works.
- Fantastic Racism: Aliens are frequently prejudiced against humans or occasionally other kinds of aliens in the Whoniverse and Wizards vs. Aliens.
- Gay Aesop: Pops up to some degree in almost everything he does. Some are directly about gay life (Queer as Folk, Cucumber) while others usually include positive portrayals of gay people wherever possible (Doctor Who, Torchwood).
- While RTD stories are very progressive, even for the era, a major theme in his stories about homosexual love is loss and mourning. His Torchwood hero, Jack Harkness, is the poster boy for pansexual hedonism, while his lovers (Ianto and Angelo in particular) serve as a cold splash of reality.
- Of special note: RTD, himself gay, has gone on record about not being the biggest fan of this trope, arguing that it in some ways perpetuates gay shame both as something experienced by homosexuals and how it is viewed by non-homosexuals, and also because it can be a bit boring, cliched and stereotypical to watch and write. As such, while most of his works deal with homosexuality and are not entirely free of angst, the characters usually angst about things other than being homosexual.
- Magic Versus Science: This conflict comes up in the Doctor Who episode "The Shakespeare Code", and in Wizards vs. Aliens.