A Doctor Who Christmas Special, starring Peter Capaldi, will air in December 2016, followed by Moffat’s final series as producer, also starring Capaldi, in the spring of 2017. Then, Chris Chibnall, formerly of Law & Order UK, Torchwood, and Broadchurch, will take over for Steven Moffat for 2018.
My incoherent thoughts at the moment.
First, revealing this when they did, this stinks of a Friday news dump on the part of the BBC. I’ve been around Washington too much, clearly, where bad news is buried on a Friday with a late afternoon dump.
Second, I’ve felt for a long time that, unless the BBC decided to go outside of their comfort zone for a Bryan Fuller or an Ira Steven Behr (both of whom, frankly, would kick serious ass as a Doctor Who creative producer), it would be Chibnall. He not only is the safest hands, he’s also the most experienced at television production of the names that fandom has usually mooted (like Gatiss or Toby Whithouse).
Second-and-a-half, I really feel that Doctor Who would benefit greatly from an American-style writer’s room, with actual staff writers and break sessions and all of that. Which is why I think someone who’s done that, a Fuller or a Behr, would be the ideal creative producer for Doctor Who, to run the writer’s room and oversee the arcs, leaving the nitty-gritty of the production to a line producer.
Third, a single Christmas special in 2016 isn’t at all surprising. A full series in 2016 wasn’t in the cards because it would have needed to start filming right about now. A Christmas special and a spring run lets Moffat and his team start filming in June or July (like Series 5 did), after Sherlock finishes filming, for an April broadcast date.
Fourth, despite airing first, I suspect the Christmas special will be filmed in an autumn block. There’s no reason to film it any earlier than that. I’d almost expect to meet the new companion in the Christmas special, then.
Fourth-and-a-half, I also wouldn’t expect us to find out who the new companion is until June.
Fifth, I’m leaning toward the assumption that Moffat and Peter Capaldi will leave at the same time, so Chibnall will start his tenure much life Moffat did, with a blank slate.
Sixth, I’m fairly certain people in BBC America are peeved right now.
Seventh, with Chibnall as the next producer, I wonder if Ben Daniels (Law & Order UK) might get a second chance at the Doctor. He was the runner up when Capaldi was cast, Chibnall has worked with him. It’s not impossible.
Eighth, I have no opinion about what kind of show Chibnall’s Who will be. I don’t expect it to be risky. You don’t hire Chibnall if you want risky. What he is is a safe, competent pair of hands. He’s not a bad choice. At worst, he’ll be a caretaker producer.
Ninth, I’ve been critical of Moffat in the past. I feel that he stayed too long, that his bag of tricks wasn’t especially deep, and that he often mistook complicated storytelling for complex storytelling. That said, he did something that a lot of people thought would be impossible — following RTD — and on his watch, Doctor Who turned into a global phenomenon. I may not always respect his writing, but I absolutely respect his ability to be part huckster, part fan, and the efforts he made to transform Doctor Who into a global brand.