Though we’ve had rumblings for months, the alleged final plan for Steven Moffat’s tenure ending on Doctor Who is sure to cause agony for fans. According to Radio Times (and honestly, they’re the experts), Moffatt has officially said that his “…timey-wimey is running out.” He will step down after overseeing six series of Doctor Who, to be replaced by Broadchurch creator (and former Torchwood showrunner) Chris Chibnall in 2018.
Not so bad, you say? It means that in 2016, we will only get a Christmas special, to tee up for 12 episodes of what we Americans would call Season 10 starting in the Spring of 2017. How and when Chibnall’s tenure would begin is still undecided. BBC1 Controller Charlotte Moore explained the decision to hold back Series 10 because 2016 already has several major events, including the Euros and the Olympics. This changing of the guard would be another spectacular to gain national attention for 2017.
Well, that’s one way of looking at it.
Fans have been preparing themselves for Peter Capaldi’s exit from the series as well, and by delaying the next set of episodes by a year, it gives the veteran actor time to do other things and possibly recuperate a bit from the strenuous role. Under Russell T. Davies’ tenure on the show, the BBC switched from regular episodes to a series of longer specials in order to allow star David Tennant time to perform Hamlet with the Royal Shakespeare Company. As it turned out, it also allowed for time to plan a transition and exit for both Davies and Tennant, leading to Moffat and Matt Smith for Series 5. This also may give Moffat time to breathe and work on the next series of Sherlock, which is currently also scheduled not to happen until 2017.
At this point, we really only know what has been officially announced. Chibnall has a long history with the franchise, and released a statement that reflects his respect, admiration, and fandom for the series and its current showrunner:
“Doctor Who is the ultimate BBC programme: 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.”
Let the speculation begin. Will Capaldi transition out with Moffat? If so, who might make a good new Doctor? How are we going to be able to sleep at Gallifrey One this year?
For my part, though I’ve found Moffat in person to be a bit prickly yet affable, I’ve enjoyed his time on the show, even though it often doesn’t add up in its plotting. To me, he has approached Doctor Who as a modern fairy tale and myth; it doesn’t have to add up, it just has to tell us truths disguised in adventure. I’ll miss that. But I’ve also met Chibnall, and think that in our limited interactions he’s been a great guy to talk with, and now it’s time to catch up on Broadchurch (hey! David Tennant is IN that!)