The modern incarnation of Doctor Who first appeared on the BBC back in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston taking on the role of the Doctor, and Russell T. Davies serving as showrunner. Since then, there have been nine seasons of the show, with four different actors in the role of the Doctor (Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi), and just one other showrunner, Steven Moffat, who has been in place since 2010.
Moffat has written and directed countless episodes of the show as well as overseeing each season, but has now decided to step down. The Radio Times confirmed that Moffat will stay in place for one more Christmas special, which will air at the end of 2016, followed by the tenth season of the show, to air in spring of 2017. This marks a change to recent years, when Doctor Who has aired in the fall, with a few weeks break before the traditional Christmas special.
The BBC cites the scheduling move as a chance to create ‘a huge event’ for fans of the show. Explaining the decision, BBC1 controller, Charlotte Moore said:
“I have decided to schedule Steven’s big finale series in Spring 2017 to bring the nation together for what will be a huge event on the channel. 2016 is spoilt with national moments including the Euros and Olympics and I want to hold something big back for 2017 - I promise it will be worth the wait!”
Taking over as showrunner is Chris Chibnall, who has previously written five episodes of the show and was also one of the main writers for Doctor Who spinoff, Torchwood (alongside Davies). Chibnall also serves as showrunner for ITV’s Broadchurch, the crime drama series starring previous Doctor, David Tennant.
Of his decision to quit the show, Moffat said he will keep the TARDIS warm while Chibnall works on the third season of Broadchurch, before taking the helm.
“Feels odd to be talking about leaving when I’m just starting work on the scripts for season 10, but the fact is my timey-wimey is running out. While Chris is doing his last run of Broadchurch, I’ll be finishing up on the best job in the universe and keeping the TARDIS warm for him. It took a lot of gin and tonic to talk him into this, but I am beyond delighted that one of the true stars of British Television drama will be taking the Time Lord even further into the future. At the start of season 11, Chris Chibnall will become the new showrunner of Doctor Who. And I will be thrown in a skip.”
In his own statement, Chibnall paid tribute to Moffat’s ‘dazzling’ time as a showrunner, and added that he, like Moffat, is a lifelong Doctor Who fan.
“It's a privilege and a joy to be the next curator of this funny, scary and emotional family drama. I’ve loved Doctor Who since I was four years old, and I’m relishing the thought of working with the exceptional team at BBC Wales to create new characters, creatures and worlds for the Doctor to explore. Steven’s achieved the impossible by continually expanding Doctor Who's creative ambition, while growing its global popularity. He’s been a dazzling and daring showrunner, and hearing his plans and stories for 2017, it’s clear he’ll be going out with a bang. Just to make my life difficult."
Moffat has indeed served Doctor Who well, and, after what seemed like a lacklustre season eight to many, season nine was better received by fans. The two-parter format seemed to work well, and Capaldi showcased his superb acting skills. Of course, the departure of Clara Oswald, as played by Jenna Coleman, did a good job in bumping up the ratings but they have still been in steady decline since Capaldi took control of the TARDIS.
Moffat’s departure could well signal massive changes for Doctor Who as a whole. After confirming that he will stay on for one more season, Capaldi could also decide that Moffat’s departure will be a good time for him to bid farewell too, and he has previously hinted that season ten could be his last. Then there’s the scheduling of the show. The decision to air season eleven in Spring 2017 could mean that subsequent seasons will follow suit as well. In the UK, this means less competition from the other channels, which traditionally air their big family viewing shows in the fall.
As yet, there is no word on when the Doctor’s new companion will be revealed, either, with suggestion that we might not meet them until season eleven, giving Capaldi another Christmas outing where he’s still flying solo. Though Moffat will be missed, Chibnall is a master at creating suspenseful, exciting drama as well as dry comedy - and it will be an exciting prospect to see him taking the Doctor Who reins.
Doctor Who will return in December of 2016 for a Christmas special. Season 11 will air in Spring of 2017.
Source: Radio Times