At the end of this year, the BBC’s longest-running science fiction series Doctor Who is going to go through a couple of big changes. Not only was it announced this past week that star Peter Capaldi is leaving at the end of the upcoming 1oth season, but the British drama is also set to lose its showrunner at the same time. For the past seven years, Steven Moffat has overseen the groundbreaking series through its 50th anniversary, two Doctors and two companions, as well as a number of iconic characters and monsters. However, his last episode is scheduled to air at the end of the year.
Very soon Moffat will pass the reins on to his successor, Chris Chibnall. Like Moffat, Chibnall is also a lifelong Doctor Who fan (having already written six episodes of the show), and he’s best known for his work on Who spinoff Torchwood and as the creator of the three-time BAFTA winning hit series Broadchurch. Right now, Chibnall is busy editing the third and final season of Broadchurch, which begins airing sometime in February. Then after a holiday this summer, he’ll return to focus completely on Doctor Who.
According to RadioTimes, Chibnall’s first assignment once he’s back will be, of course, to lead the BBC’s search for the 13th Doctor. As the new showrunner, Chibnall will have the final say on the new Doctor, although his decision has to be approved by BBC director of content Charlotte Moore and head of drama Piers Wenger. The search is planned to begin in the middle of this year once Chibnall is able to turn his full attention to Doctor Who. Per sources, the new Doctor will be announced this fall, before appearing in the 2017 Christmas special when current Time Lord Peter Capaldi leaves the role.
Season 11 is slated to begin filming early next year for a premiere date of fall 2018. Once again, it’ll be more than a year between seasons of Doctor Who, and when it comes back the series is likely to be very different. Of course, it’ll still have the usual Doctor Who charm, but each new showrunner brings their own distinct look and feel to a series. While Moffat was known for complicated stories and plot twists, it seems judging from his past work that Chibnall prefers a more grounded, serious tone.
We can probably expect a darker, more mature Doctor Who next season, as well as a greater focus on the lead characters over intricate storylines. Instead of viewers wondering what’s going to happen next as they often did with Moffat, perhaps they’ll have time to sit back and enjoy the ride. At its core, though, Doctor Who will always be a show that skews younger, so Chibnall will have to balance the more playful aspects of the series with whatever direction he decides to go. For Who fans that are excited to see a fresh approach, Chibnall is the perfect person to provide it to them in season 11.
Doctor Who season 10 premieres on April 15, 2017.