Steven Moffat's reign as the showrunner of Doctor Who is coming to an end, but not for a while: He will step down after the 2017 season of the long-running science fiction series, to be replaced by Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall, BBC America announced today.
The news was first reported by RadioTimes.
The most recent season of Doctor Who — the ninth of the modern era, which started with the Ninth Doctor in 2005 — aired from September to December 2015, followed by the show's annual Christmas special. The next standard episode of Doctor Who won't air for more than a year: There will be another Christmas special this December from Moffat, but the BBC has decided to hold season 10 until the spring of 2017. Chibnall will replace Moffat as head writer and executive producer starting with season 11, which is scheduled to premiere in 2018.
"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," said Charlotte Moore, controller of BBC One, in a press release. "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!"
Moffat will remain Doctor Who's lead writer and executive producer through the end of season 10, giving him a total of six seasons at the helm of the show. He took over in 2010 for Russell T Davies, who relaunched Doctor Who back in 2005 after a 16-year hiatus. Moffat's run on Doctor Who has been the target of much criticism for elements such as poorly written women characters and a too-tight focus on the Doctor, and he has drawn the ire of fans for being dismissive of their thoughts.
"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," said Moffat in the press release. "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."
Broadchurch premiered in 2013 and has run for two seasons in the U.K. on ITV; a third season is on the way. Chibnall also created the series' American adaptation, Gracepoint, which ran as a 10-episode limited series on Fox in 2014. In addition to his work on Broadchurch, Chibnall's writing credits include the original BBC version of Life on Mars, as well as multiple seasons of Doctor Who — with episodes such as "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" and "The Power of Three" — and its Torchwood spinoff.
"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," said Chibnall.