A bit of surprising news came down the pike on Friday as the BBC announced that Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat would be stepping down and Chris Chibnall would be replacing him after series ten in 2017. In addition, Doctor Who will have only the Christmas special in 2016; Moffat’s final season will not air until the first part of 2017. Chibnall will take over the show’s helm for series eleven in 2018.
When we left the Doctor in the Christmas special, Clara, his companion since series seven, has recently departed the TARDIS and River Song reappeared for her first interaction with this new Doctor. Peter Capaldi, the 12th and current Doctor, is set to return for series ten, but he will be companion-less and a new companion has yet to be announced. Filming for the new season has been delayed and thus Whovians will be bereft of their favorite time-traveler for the majority of 2016. No details about this next series are known at this time except for the delay in the premiere of series ten, ostensibly due to the Olympics among other events in 2016.
Moffat has been at the helm of Doctor Who since 2010. He came on just as Matt Smith became the 11th Doctor; previous series runner Russell T. Davies exited the show as David Tennant ended his run as the 10th Doctor in early 2010. Moffat not only introduced both the 11th and 12th Doctors, but he also brought on companions like the Ponds and Clara Oswald as well as introduced River Song, the Doctor’s wife, and villains like the truly terrifying Weeping Angels. Moffat was also responsible for the show’s 50th anniversary episode in 2013, which featured Matt Smith (11th Doctor), David Tennant (10th Doctor), and John Hurt, who was introduced as the ‘War Doctor’ (8.5?). His run on the show has been successful, maintaining the momentum that Doctor Who gained during David Tennant’s uber-popular run. Moffat is a longtime Doctor Who fan as is Chris Chibnall, his successor.
Chibnall is no stranger to British primetime television and to Whovians as well. He’s written a few memorable episodes, including “42,” where the 10th Doctor aids a ship that’s plunging into a star; a two-parter, “The Hungry Earth” and “Cold Blood,” which re-introduced the Silurians and lost Rory Pond (for a few episodes); “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship,” which is exactly what it sounds like; and “The Power of Three,” where little cubes take over the Earth and the 11th Doctor spends some downtime with the Ponds. In addition to his status as longtime Whovian, he also has written and helmed Broadchurch (which he also created) and Torchwood (a Doctor Who spinoff), among other projects. He has one more series of Broadchurch to write and film for 2016; series three is scheduled to begin filming in May and that series likely will air later this year.
As a Broadchurch fan myself (and a Whovian as well), I am definitely looking forward to see what Chibnall brings to the Doctor Who franchise. The first two series of Broadchurch were tight and engrossing watches, both of which I highly recommend if you’re not familiar with Chibnall’s work. His Doctor Who episodes are also available to stream on Netflix as are both Broadchurch series.
Are you ready to say goodbye to Steven Moffat? What do you hope to see from a new showrunner? What do you think about the absence of the Doctor in 2016?