Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat recently announced that the tenth season of Doctor Who will be his last. Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall will take over the show for its eleventh season. Moffat made this comment on the surprising news.
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 ofDoctor Who. And I will be thrown in a skip.
Chibnall has written for both Doctor Who and Torchwood in the past, so he already has a connection to the television show. And judging by how great Broadchurch has been so far, Doctor Who is in good hands. But what is also interesting about this announcement is that Doctor Who will not return until 2017. So aside from a possible Christmas special, The Doctor will be absent this year. This could have more to do with Chibnall’s schedule with Broadchurch than Doctor Who itself, but it seems a little strange that we will see a year break for the show before returning with what will be the final season for Moffat. So I think Moffat has something up his sleeve for his final outing with the Tardis. And I think it might involve a surprise regeneration.
During his time as showrunner, Moffat has simultaniously linked the show closer to classic Doctor Who while pushing it towards the future. We’ve seen references to classic Doctors, the return of Gallifrey, and the first appearance of Paul McGann as the ninth Doctor since the 1996 television film. But we’ve also seen a few cases of time lords regenerating in to black and female characters answering the question of if The Doctor could ever be played by a black or female actor. I find this as less of a coincidence and more of Moffat setting the grounds for a huge change in the casting of the next Doctor. And if season ten is his last, it would make a lot of sense to kick off season eleven in an entirely different direction than what the show has done in the past.
There are two things that make the lack of a new season in 2016 suspicious. The first is that there was a rumor of Peter Capaldi leaving the show after the tenth season. The rumor didn’t last long, but it was never confirmed or denied. And the timing of it was a few days before Moffat made his announcement of his departure. The second thing is the fact that there wasn’t a statement as to why the show is taking a year off. Chibnall is scheduled to work on the final season of Broadchurch this year, meaning he could very well start on Doctor Who in 2017 or 2018 as planned. But there isn’t reason why Doctor Who could have chosen to take a break in 2017 instead of this year, unless Moffat would rather his last season run directly followed by Chibnall’s the next year. And if that is the case, then the tenth season might contain something that he feels is worthy of immediately following up instead of taking a year off before the new showrunner takes over.
My educated guess is that Capaldi, who is currently signed on for season ten, will not sign on for season eleven as the original rumor suggested. The show is going to use 2016 to secretly cast a new Doctor, which will probably be a black actor or actress, and film some footage involving him/her for the new season. The tenth season of Doctor Who will end with Capaldi surprisingly regenerating in to a black actor/actress, and season eleven will immediately follow the next year to capitalize off the buzz the surprise regeneration will cause. The idea of The Doctor regenerating without any announcement would be huge on its own. The Tenth Doctor did something similar when he began to regenerate without an announcement. He used one of his regenerations to remain the Tenth Doctor, but the reaction from fans of the show was huge. So an unexpected regeneration in to an actor or actress of a different race would reinvigorate the show moving forward in to the future, and draw a huge amount of attention to it.
Steven Moffat has done things his way ever since taking over the show. His casting of Matt Smith, the youngest Doctor in the history of the show, was met with criticism at first. Then, he followed that decision with the older Peter Capaldi against the show’s recent casting of younger actors. He addressed the race and gender questions about time lords, and has increased the amount of people of color involved in storylines after taking over as showrunner. Peter Capaldi delivered one of the best seasons of Doctor Who recent years. But if the rumor of his departure from the show is true, then the 2016 break would make a lot of sense. I doubt Steven Moffat would cast another Caucasian male as The Doctor after teasing how open a time lord’s regeneration can be for years. And if the goal is to eventually have a black and female Doctor, then what better note for Moffat to leave on than introducing a black female Doctor? We’ll have to wait and see how things play out. But regardless of if Capaldi signs on for season eleven, or a new Doctor is introduced, the 2016 break is definitely a sign that something big is coming to Doctor Who. We’ll just have to wait until 2017 to find out what.