Doctor Who fans eagerly anticipating a follow-up to the best season in recent memory were hit with a one-two punch of surprising news today. Steven Moffat, head writer and executive producer for Who since 2010, announced that Series 10 will not air until next year, and that it will be his final series running the show.
Moffat has been involved with the modern iteration of Doctor Who since the very beginning, working closely with originator Russell T. Davies and receiving 37 solo writing credits. Those included some of the most beloved episodes from the show’s early seasons, including “The Girl in the Fireplace”, “Blink”, and “The Empty Child” / “The Doctor Dances”. Moffat was known for creating memorable characters and ambitious, season-spanning story arcs, both hallmarks of the show under his tenure. He continued to write several episodes for the show after taking over from Davies, while simultaneously producing Sherlock with occasional Who contributor Mark Gatiss.
In advance of the announcement, many fans had hoped that Gatiss might be the next Who showrunner. Instead, Moffat has tabbed Broadchurch head writer and co-producer Chris Chibnall as his successor. Chibnall is no stranger to the Whoniverse, having written 6 episodes of Doctor Who and 8 episodes of spin-off Torchwood, in addition to his notable work on Broadchurch with former Who star David Tennant. While the first series of the dark mystery/drama Broadchurch was a critical standout, the second met with a cooler reception from the viewing public, as did the attempted U.S. reboot Gracepoint. The third and final series begins filming this summer.
While Chibnall, like Moffat, is a lifelong Doctor Who fan and worked on the show as early as 2007, much of what he has contributed as a writer is considered subpar, including “42”, “The Hungry Earth” / “Cold Blood”, and “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. However, his most recent episode is the more promising “The Magician’s Apprentice”, a memorable turn which featured the reintroduction of Dalek leader Davros and The Master (as Missy).
Moffat has announced that after a Christmas special in 2016, his final series will feature “a huge event” that “will be worth the wait”. It is yet unknown whether Series 10 will be the final run for Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi; if so, it would continue the pattern of modern Doctors being limited to three series, as well as a new showrunner starting with a fresh face in the starring role.
As for Moffat’s future, he says that after Chibnall takes over for Series 11, he will be promptly “thrown in a skip” – that’s a dumpster, for you Whovian-Americans.