In what is probably not a huge surprise (and for some, a relief), Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat announced his departure from the series after season 10. Chris Chibnall, who has written for series since 2007 and who has also penned episodes in the spin-off series, Torchwood, and who is also the creator of Broadchurch, will assume the mantle of showrunner for the series 11th season.
News also broke that the long-running series will take a gap year in 2016 and will not fully return until the spring of 2017. There will be, however, a traditional Christmas episode that will air this year.
BBC One Controller Charlotte Moore explained the reasons for moving the series back to the spring. “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”
Reading between the lines, Moore’s statement that 2017 series will be a “huge event” seems to allude to the notion that with Moffat’s departure, fans should expect that current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, will probably announce he's leaving sometime before the 2016 is finished, and that the 2017 series will be his last.
This is the second time since the series returned in 2005 where there will be a significant gap between full seasons. The last time was in 2009, when tenth Doctor David Tennant was doing Shakespeare, though the BBC did air three “special” episodes during the year -one that lead into the regeneration of actor Tennant into Matt Smith.
The announcement that Chibnall assuming the reins as showrunner was met with some satisfaction from the fans. The writer has penned the Who episodes 42, The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, and The Power of Three. But for a lot of fans, it was his superior writing on the spin-off show Torchwood that makes them excited for his new job making Doctor Who. Episodes he wrote include Day One, Cyberwoman, Countycide, End of Days, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Adrift, Fragments, and Exit Wounds.
Of course, Chibnall created Broadchurch, the popular procedural that starred former Doctor Who actor David Tennant. The first season was a huge hit in England, and lead to FOX to produce an American version called Gracepoint, that also starred Tennant. A second series aired a year ago, and a third and final series will film this summer, to air in early 2017. Then it’s on to making season 11 of the long-runner science fiction show.
Based on the episodes he’s written for Doctor Who, it’s a good bet Chibnall will take the show in a different direction than Moffat, whose whimsy, lightness, and his difficulty in writing female characters has shown through his later tales. It very possible the show with go a more darker route, but that will also depend on who will be playing the Time Lord when the show returns in 2018 for that eleventh season, as I fully expect the tenth season to be Peter Capaldi’s last.
Is there a chance that the Doctor can change genders, now? Or will the BBC stay with the tried and true format of a male (though sticking with a male, could the Doctor be black or Asian) and female companion?