When any show changes its showrunner, changes are bound to take effect. Whether that's in the style of the writing, the quality of the episodes produced or even changes to the cast itself, the newly appointed person in charge will almost inevitable want to make their mark and remind cast, crew, and viewers alike who is now running the show.
These changes are not always welcome; many hold with the age-old addage 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' However, in the case of a show like Doctor Who, a series which is based around the very idea of regeneration, change is necessary due to the longevity of the show - and a need to keep viewers wanting to come back for more.
With the announcement of current showrunner Steven Moffat's departure at the end of season 10 (to air in 2017), talk inevitably turns to the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and whether Moffat's final season might also serve as his own farewell. Capaldi has previously hinted that season ten could well be his last, saying that although he found the prospect of departure 'terrifying', he also wanted to try new things:
"When you accept the job you know there’ll come a day, inevitably, when you’ll be saying goodbye.”
In hindsight, Capaldi's comments now seem even more poignant - and although nothing has been confirmed at all, it seems to be likely that Capaldi will depart at the end of Moffat's tenure, leaving the way clear for new showrunner, Chris Chibnall, to choose his own Time Lord. In fact, according to The Mirror, the BBC's executives are now expecting Capaldi to step down, with their source claiming:
“Bosses are already discussing a fresh start when Steven [Moffat] leaves. They’ve been happy with what Peter has brought to the role but some think it might make sense to give Chris his own choice of actor to play the Doctor."
A fresh start makes sense, and it's happened before, too. When Russell T. Davies stepped down as the showrunner on Doctor Who, he took David Tennant with him. Moffatt then took over form Davies, with Matt Smith settling in as the eleventh Doctor, and Karen Gillan also joined the show as the Doctor's new human companion, Amy Pond.
At this present time, Capaldi's Doctor is, of course, companion-less, after losing his Impossible Girl, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman). We know the Doctor will not have a new companion for the Christmas Special, which will air at the end of 2016, but will they arrive in season ten, to carry over into season eleven, and the introduction of a new Doctor? (Coleman did this, playing opposite Smith and then Capaldi.) Or, will a new companion not join the show until the Doctor regenerates?
In all probability, it seems unlikely that Moffat will leave the Time Lord traveling alone for an entire season; though, we've seen characters on Doctor Who before, who have only joined the Doctor in the TARDIS for a few episodes before moving on (Mickey Smith, River Song, Sarah Jane Smith), and Moffat could decide to repeat that tactic, leaving Chibnall with an entirely clean slate. However, if a new, long-term companion is appointed for season 10, it seems likely that Chibnall will have a hand in the casting process too, with a view to what any future Doctor might need to accompany him through time and space.
For now, all we can do is wait - and what a long wait it seems to be.
Doctor Who returns with a Christmas Special in December, 2016. Season Ten will air in Spring 2017.
Source: The Mirror