Steven Moffat has decided that his “timey wimey” as showrunner of Doctor Who has come to an end and he will step down as the show’s lead writer and executive producer after six series at the helm.
Moffatt will hand over the keys to the TARDIS at the end of the next series in 2017 to Broadchurch writer and Doctor Who fan Chris Chibnall.
Chibnall’s debut series as head writer and executive producer will launch in 2018.
A Christmas special WILL air this year overseen by Moffat, though it is unclear whether Peter Capaldi’s new companion will feature. The companion, who will replace Jenna Coleman's Clara Oswald, will definitely be in place for the spring 2017 series, say BBC sources.
Explaining the decision to hold Moffat’s last series until next year, BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore said: “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 - I promise it will be worth the wait!”
It is unclear if the plan is now to make Doctor Who a series which regularly begins its runs in the spring when Chibnall becomes showrunner. “That is all to be decided,” said a BBC source, who pointed out that it began airing in the spring when it was relaunched by Russell T Davies in 2005.
Moffat said of his decision to quit: “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 of Doctor Who. And I will be thrown in a skip.”
Moore, who next month takes over a super controller’s job at the BBC, paid tribute to Moffat and welcomed Chibnall into the Doctor Who fold.
“I want to thank Steven Moffat for everything he has given Doctor Who – I’ve loved working with him, he is an absolute genius and has brought fans all over the world such joy,” she added. “I will be very sad to see him leave the show but I can’t wait to see what he will deliver in his last ever series next year with a brand new companion.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Chris Chibnall, a wonderfully talented writer who I know will bring something very special to the hit series.”
Like Moffat, Chibnall is also a lifelong Doctor Who fan and a multi-award winning writer and executive producer. He has most recently achieved success with the triple BAFTA winning hit ITV series Broadchurch. His other credits include BAFTA nominated The Great Train Robbery, United, Law & Order: UK, Life on Mars and Torchwood.
He said: "Doctor Who is the ultimate BBC programme: bold, unique, vastly entertaining, and adored all around the world. So it's a privilege and a joy to be the next curator of this funny, scary and emotional family drama. I’ve loved Doctor Who since I was four years old, and I’m relishing the thought of working with the exceptional team at BBC Wales to create new characters, creatures and worlds for the Doctor to explore. Steven’s achieved the impossible by continually expanding Doctor Who's creative ambition, while growing its global popularity. He’s been a dazzling and daring showrunner, and hearing his plans and stories for 2017, it’s clear he’ll be going out with a bang. Just to make my life difficult."
Polly Hill, BBC controller of drama commissioning, added: “Like Charlotte I would like to thank Steven for his brilliance, which has made Doctor Who a global hit under his tenure. Chris Chibnall is the perfect successor to take over the reins of this incredible show, so I am delighted that his love for Doctor Who has made it impossible for him to resist ! Chris is an incredible writer and his vision and passion for Doctor Who gives it an exciting future and promises to be a real treat for Doctor Who fans across the world.”