Predictably, this met with derision from certain quarters of fandom: "it'll be aimed at kids", "no one was asking for this", "I'd rather have a series about Daleks", etc. Such arch-traditionalism is both grating and ruefully unimaginative. In this blog post I'd like to set out why I think Patrick Ness is an outstanding choice to run this new show and why it heralds a very exciting new era for the programme.
1) He's a terrific talent. Seriously, check out this guy. If you haven't read any of his books yet, you really ought to. The Chaos Walking trilogy, his first and arguably biggest hit consisting of The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men, is very distinctive indeed: a dystopia full of terrorism, xenophobia, genocide and all manner of dark things packaged up for a teenage audience. It's about as hard-hitting and yet emotionally true as these things come. It has a very, very taut stream-of-consciousness style unlike many other more plodding YA novels. It's set on a world in which everybody can hear everybody else's thoughts, constantly, all the time (it's called "Noise", tapping into our own fears of information overload etc). A Monster Calls is a beautiful, elegiac novel; after the death of the novelist Siobhan Dowd (who was also a great talent), her publishers contacted Ness to write the book she was going to have written. It's hauntingly good, and - unusually - has some outstanding illustrations. This is being adapted into a film in 2016 starring Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones and Sigourney Weaver. The film's screenplay has been written by Ness (so he'll have some crucially important scriptwriting experience there) and the film is released in October next year. Just in time to *significantly* raise his national profile, again a great boon for the show. He's also done two very well received books called More than This and The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which I hear good things about but haven't yet read; the latter focuses on the anxiety and worries of ordinary kids as opposed to tormented chosen ones like Buffy, which sounds like it could be an interesting theme in a high-school drama. The Crane Wife, his latest adult novel, is very strange and off-kilter, but full of interesting and beautiful ideas.
Best of all, he blends the emotional sensitivity of an RTD with the complex darkness of a Moffat, wrapped up in a certain anarchic earthiness that's all his own.