The role of Doctor Who has recasting the character built directly into its Time Lord DNA. The character's ongoing regenerations allow the series to carry on in perpetuity, bringing in new actors to play the lead role in the storied franchise without having to resort to rebooting the entire show every few years. The notion of a new Doctor Who has become so commonplace that while those who had grown fond of a particular iteration treat the pending departure of an actor with some level of sadness, it has become something of an internet holiday whenever the new Doctor is announced.
Now, after much behind-the-scenes rejiggering with longtime showrunner Steven Moffat leaving the show in season 10 to make way for Chris Chibnall, it seems the new guy will do so with a new Doctor helming the TARDIS. So let the speculation of who will be the next face of the Doctor begin, as Peter Capaldi has announced he will step away from the role of Doctor Who following season 10, which is due to premiere this spring.
The announcement comes via the official Doctor Who Twitter account, which quotes Capaldi directly, saying, "It (the new series) will be my last… I feel it's time to move on." The news comes as something of a surprise, as the actor had been discussing his role as the Doctor in recent weeks, without much in the way of hints that his departure was indeed on the horizon. There was some speculation that Capaldi would stick around for at least one more season, so as to help Chibnall and the audience acclimate to Moffat's departure, but now it seems the incoming boss will have an entirely new Doctor to begin his run on the series.
“It (the new series of Doctor Who) will be my last… I feel it’s time to move on.”
- Peter Capaldi
— Doctor Who Official (@bbcdoctorwho) January 30, 2017
In a statement coinciding with the announcement of Capaldi's departure, Moffat had this to say:
“For years before I ever imagined being involved in Doctor Who, or had ever met the man, I wanted to work with Peter Capaldi. I could not have imagined that one day we’d be standing on the TARDIS together. Like Peter, I’m facing up to leaving the best job I’ll ever have, but knowing I do so in the company of the best, and kindest and cleverest of men, makes the saddest of endings a little sweeter. But hey, it’s a long way from over. Peters’ amazing, fiery, turbulent Doctor is still fighting the good fight, and his greatest adventures are yet to come. Monsters of the universe, be on your guard - Capaldi’s not done with you yet!”
With this announcement, one has to wonder what Capaldi's legacy as the Doctor will be. His tenure as the character was shorter than most, but longer than Christopher Eccleston's. Still, it seems pertinent to ask what he'll be remembered for. Capaldi certainly starred in a number of memorable episodes during his short run, though none perhaps were as emotionally and visually striking as season 9 episode 'Heaven Sent.' In that case, perhaps Capaldi's legacy will be partially built around the departure of Jenna Coleman's Clara Oswald, and the Doctor's response to that event.
Then again, with an entire season still ahead of him, Capaldi may further cement his time as the character with something fans have yet to see. After all, he'll get to introduce Pearl Mackie as the newest companion Bill. So who knows? Perhaps the best of Capaldi's Doctor Who run is just around the corner.
Doctor Who season 10 is set to premiere on April 15, 2017 on BBC America.
Source: Doctor Who Official