Well this news is certainly bigger on the inside: looks like the long-rumored departure of Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat will happen in 2017. And they’ve even already landed on a new showrunner to take his place! But this news also comes with a lot of stipulations and things to unpack, because it’s going to be almost a year before we see any new Who on-screen this year. Thanks for dumping this huge, huge news on us on a Friday afternoon, Beebs!
In addition to the news that Moffat was finally stepping away, a press release from the network revealed that Moffat’s final 12-episode run (a.k.a. series/season 10) will air in spring 2017, giving them time to build up to the end-of-an-era occasion. There will, however, be a Christmas special this year, though it is unclear if we will meet the new companion during that time. This puts Chris Chibnall’s debut as head writer and executive producer firmly in 2018.
According to BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore, the network has “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!”
Moffat, via press release, also had this to say:
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.
It’s a worthy and fitting ending for a man who has written, so far, a staggering 55 episodes of the series in its modern iteration, and will likely end up with 66 on his resume before his time with the series is out. Regardless of your opinion on his showrunning abilities in the show’s more recent series/seasons, there’s no denying that Moffat has defined modern Who just as much—if not more so—than Russell T. Davies, who brought the series back in 2005.
It is unclear whether Peter Capaldi‘s new companion will feature in the Christmas special set to air this year. The companion, who will replace Jenna Coleman‘s Clara Oswald, will definitely be in place for the spring 2017 series, say BBC sources. It is unknown if Capaldi will continue his tenure as the Doctor when Chibnall takes over, but, given how this has worked before and Capaldi’s own expressed interest in series/season 10 being his last, it feels safe to assume we’ll also get a new Doctor at that time.
As for his credits, Chibnall is a decidedly solid choice for showrunner, given his previous experience with Who and writing/showrunning the seriously stunning limited series Broadchurch. (Which starred none other than Ten himself, David Tennant!) The only reason we didn’t include Chibnall in our rundown of 8 people we thought may take over the series in Moffat’s wake was because he just seemed so dang busy! (We’re admittedly kicking ourselves now in retrospect.)
Chibnall’s resume is an impressive one, having written six episodes of the series since 2007, including The Power of Three, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, and The Hungry Earth. But he’s not exclusive to the Whovian world, having also tackled many an episode of Torchwood, and even two episodes of Life on Mars.
As for his own thoughts on taking over? Chibnall had this to say:
Doctor Who is the ultimate BBC program: bold, unique, vastly entertaining, and adored all around the world. So 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.
What do you think of the news? Let us know in the comments below.
Image/GIF Credit: BBC America
Alicia Lutes is the Managing Editor of The Nerdist. Her favorite episodes of Who of all-time are “Blink” and “Listen,” both of which Moffat wrote. Find her on Twitter (@alicialutes).