Steven Moffat to Step Down as Showrunner of "Doctor Who," Chris Chibnall to Replace Him | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Steven Moffat to Step Down as Showrunner of “Doctor Who,” Chris Chibnall to Replace Him

Next Season Will Be Moffat's Last, But It Won't Air Until 2017

Jan 22, 2016
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Steven Moffat has announced that next season will be his final season as the showrunner and head writer on Doctor Who. For fans of the long-running British sci-fi show this is potentially big news. His replacement will be Chris Chibnall, who has already written several episodes of Doctor Who and its spinoff series Torchwood and is also known for creating and writing the acclaimed British detective drama Broadchurch (which stars David Tennant, who used to star as the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who). Moffat's final season won't air until spring 2017, although there will be a Christmas special this December. So that means we'll only be getting one new episode of Doctor Who in 2016.

Doctor Who is the type of show that has an extremely devoted fanbase who debate the merits of every episode online. Before Moffat took over from Russell T. Davies as showrunner in 2010 with season five (Matt Smith's first season as the Eleventh Doctor) he was a fan favorite writer thanks to penning such acclaimed episodes as Blink and The Girl in the Fireplace. As showrunner he has slowly proven to be a more divisive figure, season five was met with approval, but eventually one unhappy segment of fans repeatedly called for his departure with another segment defending him (this Doctor Who fan still thinks Moffat does some great work). Season 9, which aired in 2015, was generally well-received by fans and critics, however. Season 10 will see the return of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor and the introduction of a new companion. Perhaps this will be the season that Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson will finally direct an episode, as has long been teased.

Moffat issued a statement about his departure in a press release: "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."

Chibnall, like Moffat, is a lifelong Doctor Who fan. As well as writing eight episodes of Torchwood in its first two seasons, he has written the following Doctor Who episodes: "42," "Hungry Earth / Cold Blood," "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," and "The Power of Three." In addition to writing the entirety of Broadchurch's first two seasons thus far (with a third and final season in the works), Chibnall has written for Life on Mars and Law & Order: UK.

Chibnall also issued a statement in the press release: "Doctor Who is the ultimate BBC program: 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."

Explaining why there will be no new season of Doctor Who in 2016, BBC One Controller Charlotte Moore commented: "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!"

As a longtime Doctor Who fan I can only thank Mr. Moffat for his many great scripts for the show and for expertly steering the series for so many years. As for Mr. Chibnall, I can only hope for the return of Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor (who only ever got one proper episode) for an episode or two, or even an Eighth Doctor miniseries. It would also be nice to explore what happened to The Doctor's granddaughter, Susan, or his children for that matter. And why not bring back some of the old companions, both classic ones (a new regeneration of Romana perhaps) and newer ones (what's Martha and Mickey been up to)? And maybe give overdone villains the Daleks and the Cybermen a rest for a while. And a long mooted big screen Doctor Who movie would still be nice. Broadchurch has been great, so I have hopes that Chibnall can fill Moffat's very large shoes (they're bigger on the inside after all). But, of course, talk to another Doctor Who fan and they might disagree with everything I just said.

Read my 2008 interview with Moffat, conducted at Comic-Con soon after it was announced that he was taking over as the new showrunner.



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