It’s been reported by the Radio Times that Steven Moffat, showrunner of Doctor Who since 2010, will be stepping down after the conclusion of the tenth season of Doctor Who, to be replaced by Chris Chibnall.
Chibnall, of course, was showrunner for the wonderful Broadchurch - incidentally starring former Doctor Who star David Tennant - which has been met with much acclaim over the course of its run on ITV. Chibnall also has previous experience with Doctor Who, having written for both the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, as well as being the primary writer for Torchwood in its first two seasons.
It has been confirmed that Doctor Who series ten will broadcast in 2017, as Moffat’s final season; 2016 will see only a Christmas special in December. Chris Chibnall’s first season as showrunner will begin in 2018 - there’s no word at present as to whether or not Peter Capaldi will remain in the starring role under Chris Chibnall.
Moffat has said this of his departure:
It took a lot of gin and tonic to talk [Chris Chibnall] 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.”
Personally speaking, I do think this is great news; Moffat’s departure has been looming for a while now, and while I’ve loved much of his recent work, I do think it’s really important for Doctor Who to keep changing, and to keep evolving; as its eponymous hero once said, “life depends upon change and renewal.”
As for Chris Chibnall, I must say I’m confident he’ll do well; whilst he seemed something of an outside choice whenever the question of Moffat’s successor reared its head, with Sherlock co-producer Mark Gatiss often seeming the more likely choice, Chibnall is undeniably qualified for the role - as I’ve already said, his Broadchurch series was one of the most successful and compelling ITV dramas in recent years.
It’ll be interesting to see where he takes the show; whilst I’ve enjoyed every one of Chibnall’s previous Doctor Who episodes, I don’t think I’d really be able to draw any significant conclusions about the concepts and themes that interest him most. If I were to guess, though, I’d be inclined to think that his vision of Doctor Who would be more in line with that of Russell T Davies, who helmed the show from 2005 to 2009, rather than that of his immediate predecessor.
In terms of Moffat’s final year, I would posit that the new companion we see introduced will last only one series, with Chibnall creating his own original character for the 2018 series. Whether or not Peter Capaldi will stay on for a fourth series is, at this stage, anybody’s guess; it could go either way. I will say though that I really, really do hope he stays - I’ve been loving his portrayal of the Twelfth Doctor, and I think he’s elevated the quality of the previous two series to entirely new highs.
Exciting times for Doctor Who fans, then! I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the future holds.