The Doctor is… out. BBC confirms Whittaker and Chibnall leaving in 2022…

The rumours have been building for a long while, but it's now official that Jodie and Chris will depart after three specials...

There have been rumblings for a long while, but the BBC finally confirmed today that the current era of Doctor Who will be ringing in the changes sometime in 2022. Jodie Whittaker will be leaving the role after appearing in three seasons through 2021… and then three specials which will be broadcast next year, the first of which is believed to air in January (possibly as a New Year’s Day event). Show-runner Chris Chibnall is also leaving, effectively clearing the decks for whatever creative team comes in to take their place.

“In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them, My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life,” Whittaker said in a statement. “I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories. We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had.”

Though Whittaker’s portrayal of the Doctor was initially met with some sexist commentary (a section of fandom bemoaning the very idea that a shape-shifting alien who had been tall, short, thin, fat, old and young in a diverse order could ever have a form other than a man), she had a impressive resume of hard-hitting and strong roles and she dove in to to the show with glee. However  some commentators felt that the show’s scripts and stories did not serve her well.  It would also be fair to say that Chibnall’s tenure on the show has been highly controversial, his arrival bringing sweeping changes that involved casting, story-structure, subject-matter and a dramatic change to the show’s on-screen mythology. There were rumours of serious problems behind the scenes, though the more dramatic examples seemed to exaggerate any genuine disquiet.

Chibnall issued a statement that didn’t make any mention of that controversy and claims that their joint exit and its timing was always planned this way – equaling the three series tenures of Whittaker’s recent predecessors.

“Jodie and I made a ‘three series and out’ pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the Tardis keys. Jodie’s magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations. She’s been the gold standard leading actor, shouldering the responsibility of being the first female Doctor with style, strength, warmth, generosity and humour. She captured the public imagination and continues to inspire adoration around the world, as well as from everyone on the production. I can’t imagine working with a more inspiring Doctor – so I’m not going to!”
Though it was generally believed that the cast and crew were still working on the next run of eight episodes (which seemed set to debut later this year – and which received a trailer at last week’s Comic-Con @ Home event) Whittaker’s specific comments suggest that filming on those 2022 specials is at least part of that count, though there seems some question on when her finale will air. In an internet post, reporter Lizo Mzimba claimed ‘six episodes with her will air this year, two specials will go out on New Year’s Day and next Spring‘ though the official statements says that final outing will air in Autumn 2022 as part of the broadcaster’s centenary celebrations, which indicates a different date or that the finale isn’t part of the original ‘eight’.
Currently there is no word on who will replace Whittaker and Chibnall and indeed, when a fourteenth Doctor would actually debut. Some other rumours have suggested that the BBC will ‘rest’ the series for a while as part of a reboot but that has not been confirmed by any reliable source, indeed as things stand, it seems a further announcement will come sooner rather than later..
The show will celebrate its Sixtieth anniversary in November 2023.