All change at Doctor Who. One final series for Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall with a feature-length special to end on, for the BBC's hundredth anniversary. But what does it all mean for the show's future? Here are five thoughts to be getting on with.
Three And Out
It was the Second Doctor Patrick Troughton who first established the "rule of three" for Doctor Who at the BBC, knowing its almost religious effect on the nation. Do the show for three years, avoid getting typecast, move on. Some folk specifically followed that advice, like Peter Davison, Matt Smith, and Peter Capaldi. Some like Tom Baker deliberately did not, to their acting cost. And some like Jon Pertwee and David Tennant ignored it (or found some extra special episodes to extend their run) yet found other career-defining roles from Worzel Gummidge to DI Alec Hardy in Broadchurch – or themselves in Staged. And Whittaker has followed in the tradition. Three series, a couple of specials, and you're gone.
Doctor Who Showrunner Does A Runner?
Chibnall's exit was sooner than expected, it was believed he would get two Doctors out of his run, as both Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat did. But he says this was always the plan for both him and Whittaker. And his departure may be the more impactful one. He upended the history and canon of the show with The Timeless Children to restore the character's original mystery that had been chipped away since the end of Troughton's run. ITV has been wanting him back for Broadchurch for a while now and while Moffat could do Sherlock and Doctor Who simultaneously for the BBC, that wasn't going to be allowed for a commercial broadcast rival.
Doctor How Many?
Whittaker will be leaving with fewer episodes under her belt than any other Doctor save for Christopher Eccleston. 31 including the feature-length final, compared to Capaldi's 36, Smith, and Tennant's 39. Eccleston did only 13. Smith also added Day Of The Doctor, Sarah Jane Adventures, Time/Space, and the Night Of The Doctor minisodes. Tennant also did a Sarah Jane and Time Crash. Capaldi appeared in a Class as well, and his eyebrows in Day Of The Doctor.
Doctor Who's Next?
I always get asked this. Comes of having broken the news before anyone else in the world that Smith was the Eleventh Doctor. But that was after months of thinking it was Patterson Joseph. But for the Fourteenth Doctor. It's all wide-open now. Anyone of any race or gender is now up for consideration without it even being a thing. The only consideration is that you're British. The world may be ready for a black Doctor, an Asian Doctor, a female Doctor, but an American or Australian Doctor is beyond the pale.
The usual tabloid names are being thrown around as usual including, Kris Marshall, Michael Sheen, Richard Ayoade, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Olivia Coleman, and Helena Bonham Carter with new entrants Vicky McClure, Kelly MacDonald, Reece Shearsmith, Tom Rosenthal, Matt Berry, Michaela Coel, and the suggestion that Jo Martin could reprise her role as The Fugitive Doctor.
In "The Day of The Doctor", we met a future incarnation of the Doctor, known as The Curator, who resembled the Fourth Doctor. He told the Eleventh Doctor that in the days ahead, he may find himself revisiting some old faces. Could the Doctor regenerate into her earlier form from the Dark Old Days?
A new showrunner makes this unlikely, they will want to make their own stamp on the show, rather than using a previous casting suggestion. And whoever is chosen as showrunner will have full casting privileges for the Doctor, the BBC don't get a say. Or, frankly, they'd never have gone with either Smith (who?) or Capaldi (too old).
As ever the best way to find out is to check the bookie's odds the day before the announcement because someone, out of nowhere, will pop up at a bookie's in Cardiff, drop ten grand on the name and their odds will suddenly drop through the floor. As ever, follow the money. If you had done this for Capaldi and Whittaker you'd have been quids in.
No news on John Bishop or Mandip Gill. But as we said before, a new showrunner does like a fresh start… and the BBC seem as committed to the show as ever, it remains a banker for both the Appreciated Index figures which show how loved a programme is, and for international sales. For the BBC's hundredth year, it's good to have something that will have its sixtieth anniversary the following year.
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