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.