Doctor Who series 10 and beyond: the questions

Steven Moffat leaves Doctor Who after series 10, and Chris Chibnall takes over. We go through the questions about the show's future....

As you more than likely know by now, news broke late on Friday that Steven Moffat’s departure from Doctor Who had been confirmed. Moffat will see series 10 through, before handing the keys to the TARDIS over to Chris Chibnall. Chibnall, a long time Who fan and author of episodes such as The Power Of Three and 42, is currently working on the third series of Broadchurch.

Naturally enough, there’s still plenty we don’t know, as just the basics of the changeover have been revealed thus far. Here, then, is what we know, and the questions yet to be resolved…

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When will Doctor Who return to our screens?

Let’s start with an easy one. The next new episode of Doctor Who will screen on December 25th 2016. That’ll be it for this year, too.

So no other new Who this year?

No. Instead, we will be getting an eight-part spin-off series, Class. This is being overseen by Patrick Ness, and it’s a BBC Three show set in and around regular Doctor Who location, Coal Hill School. Peter Capaldi has thus far revealed that he’s not been asked to appear in it. That may, of course, change. Not least because Patrick Ness himself teased that “I can neither yet confirm nor deny… but I’m a big Peter Capaldi fan, let’s put it that way”.

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Make of that what you will.

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Will we get the new companion at Christmas?

Unknown, but you’d have to say there’s a good chance. Mind you, Christmas specials have been known just to run with guest stars joining the Doctor on an adventure (not least last year). As of yet, we don’t know if December 2016 will see the introduction of the Doctor’s latest companion, or if that’ll be saved for the start of series 10 proper.

Steven Moffat, who is almost certain to pen the Christmas special, does like surprising people with the introduction of characters, though. Who knows? The new companion may yet turn up in Class first. As far as we know, the role hasn’t yet been cast, though, and it certainly hasn’t been officially announced if it has.

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When will series 10 of Doctor Who screen?

We’re told in the statement from the BBC that came out on Friday that Doctor Who series 10 is being saved for spring 2017.

If that’s true, then it’ll be back to the spring slot that the show earmarked when it returned in 2005. In recent years, the full series runs have been reserved for darker nights in the autumn. In truth, it doesn’t seem to have made much difference to ratings, and perhaps that’s why the Beeb is looking to shift Who back to the slot where it’s had the most success in recent times with the show.

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Will series 10 be split?

Unlikely. Again, we don’t know for certain, but the era of the split series run does appear to have ended, at least for now.

Does all this mean that Doctor Who will return to spring series runs permanently after series 10?

As a BBC spokesperson told the Radio Times, “that is still to be decided”.

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Why is series 10 being held until 2017 in the first place?

We’ll give you the direct blurb, courtesy of incoming BBC One controller, Charlotte Moore: “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!”

There have been rumours swirling for some time that Doctor Who series 10 would be put back, to give Steven Moffat time to put the new series of Sherlock together instead. A full Sherlock series 4 (well, three episodes) is widely expected to screen at the start of 2017, which means it’ll shoot this year. That, and a full series run of Who, would be a hectic schedule (that’s an understatement), and that assumes that those are the only projects Moffat is working on. He may yet have more.

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Furthermore – and this is even deeper into rumour territory – given the clogged schedules of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in particular – there had at least been the suggestion that two series of Sherlock would shoot in 2016, to allow the BBC to hold one back and get time with the two leads while it could (Cumberbatch finishes shooting Doctor Strange in the next month or two). We’ve had nothing remotely concrete on that, we should note.

Given that Doctor Who has screened in years when a major football tournament and the Olympic Games have been on in the past, her statement does seem a little odd. It may be as simple, though, as she’s buying Doctor Who – and Steven Moffat – time.

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In lieu of other concrete information, we take it at face value, because the core fact doesn’t change: series 10 won’t screen until next year.

What will series 10 entail?

12 episodes. We’ve been told that for definite. Steven Moffat has already hinted that he’s talking to new writers for Doctor Who as part of the next run, and Peter Capaldi has signed up to play the Doctor for series 10, so he’ll be at the heart of it.

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Who will write for series 10?

No names have been confirmed yet. New writers have been teased but not named. Mark Gatiss mentioned to us towards the end of last year that Steven Moffat had mentioned a possible sequel to Sleep No More, but until anything official is announced – which we’re not expecting for a while – it’s all speculative.

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Will series 10 be Peter Capaldi’s last?

No news on that thus far either. Both David Tennant and Matt Smith effectively did three season runs (although given how chopped around the scheduling of Smith’s Who was, it felt like he was in charge of the TARDIS for a lot longer). If Capaldi follows a similar pattern, then he’ll be handing his key over at the end of series 10. That’s just speculation on our part though: Capaldi may yet stay on for another series, or move on prior to Chris Chibnall’s arrival. Again, we’re unlikely to know for some time.

Who is in charge for Doctor Who‘s 2017 Christmas special?

It’s not actually been confirmed that there’s a Christmas special yet in 2017, but it’s a fair bet there will be. Reading what’s been revealed thus far, the implication is that Steven Moffat will sign off his Doctor Who showrunner time at the end of the 12 episodes of series 10. The spring scheduling means that the Christmas episode will follow by a good four or five months, and is likely to offer the cleanest place for a change.

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We don’t know the answer to the question, to be clear. Our best guess is that Christmas 2017 will be Chris Chibnall’s first episode in charge of the show.

Will Steven Moffat still write for Doctor Who?

Again, no idea so far. His predecessor, Russell T Davies, has always resisted a return to Doctor Who. Steven Moffat, however, was writing for the show before he took on the top job. Whether he continues to do so when he leaves remains to be seen. It seems plausible, though. Unlike Davies, he has worked under another showrunner on Who before.

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However: Steven Moffat may yet have a list of potential other projects he’s been waiting to try. He may yet opt for a clean break.

Will Steven Moffat and Chris Chibnall work together before the changeover?

They already are. Notwithstanding the fact that Chibnall has written for Who under Moffat’s stewardship, Chris Chibnall’s statement on Friday revealed that he’s already heard Moffat’s plans and stories for series 10 in 2017. The two are talking, and we’re fully expecting a friendly changing of the guard.

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When does Chris Chibnall’s first run as Doctor Who showrunner actually begin?

In earnest? With series 11, which will screen in 2018. His immediate priority, though, is to put together the third series of Broadchurch, starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman. That’s not expected to start shooting until this summer though, and is likely to occupy the bulk of Chibnall’s time this year. His attention, at least full time, is not likely to be on Who until early 2017.

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What can we expect from Chibnall’s stewardship of the show?

Way, way too early to tell. Our best guess would be somewhere between the tone and approach that Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat have taken. But again, who knows? Chibnall is long term fan of the show, who’s written for both showrunners since it returned in 2005. He is unlikely to be short on ideas of what he wants to do with Doctor Who.

Is Doctor Who‘s future safe?

Yes. This is one show with many more adventures ahead of it. That’s been proven time and time again, and its ability to be reinvented will, of course, be tested once more. But Doctor Who has regularly proven it’s up to the challenge, and as its worldwide audience continues to grow – it’s one of the BBC’s biggest exports – future Who is clearly very much on the agenda.

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