Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has quit. The next season of the show, the tenth since its return in 2005, will be his last. The next season will film this year and be trailed by a Christmas special, with the season itself expected to debut very early in 2017.
Moffat will be replaced by Chis Chibnall, who will take over for production of the eleventh season in 2018. This news has been less well-received, although the BBC has de facto confirmed that the show will be continuing for at least two further seasons and likely more. In fact, it sounds like the move to Spring 2017 has come from a combined urge to miss major sporting events in 2016, give Moffat more time to prepare scripts for the next season, give Peter Capaldi a longer break between seasons (Capaldi has noted that he loves playing the Doctor, but had indicated that he might only stay for three seasons due to time requirements and his desire to play other roles) and also to see if a move to the spring might help the first-run viewing figures. Although combined viewing figures (taking into account repeats and time-shifting) have showed little fluctuation from the show's ratings heyday under Russell T. Davies, the first-run viewing figures have almost halved since it moved later in the year. However, some fans and commentators have blamed the lack of a regular, predictable timeslot (the show's airing time changes almost weekly) for this, as well as a more global move towards streaming and viewing after the fact. Moffat also oversaw the show's global viewing figures passing 70 million, an absolutely enormous number. With the overwhelming majority of that number watching from outside the UK, through deals made with BBC Enterprises, that actually makes the BBC a significant amount of money and makes the show's cancellation doubtful.
The decision to replace Moffat with Chibnall is raising the ire of some fans, who were confidently expecting Toby Whithouse or Mark Gatiss to take over. Whithouse has an excellent showrunning pedigree with Almost Human, No Angels and The Game, has writing scripts for Doctor Who and was generally regarded as the favourite to take over. Gatiss has exceptional experience working on Who, having regularly contributed scripts since its return in 2005 as well as writing novels and actually playing the Doctor in spoof charity sketches. Some of his scripts have been less accomplished than others, but his drama An Adventure in Space and Time, about the creation of the show, was widely regarded as the highlight of the 50th Anniversary celebrations two years ago.
Chibnall, on the other hand, has written scripts for the show ranging from terrible to barely adequate and lives in infamy as the writer of Cyberwoman, a script for Torchwood thay may be the worst thing ever made in relation to the Who franchise (certainly in the top five). He also worked on the terrible Camelot. Chibnall had a reputation rehabilitation by producing and writing the brilliant first season of murder mystery series Broadchurch (starring former Who star David Tennant), but the second season was substantially weaker and patchier, with occasional flashes of brilliance.
If the Chibnall who gave us Broadchurch Season 1 shows up, then Doctor Who could be in reasonable hands going forwards. If not, things may start to get a bit rougher going forwards.
Moffat is expected to continue in his role as showrunner, writer and producer on Sherlock alongside Mark Gatiss. It is possible that this move may even allow more episodes than normal to be produced: whilst Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman's rise to international superstars has limited the time available to work on the series, Moffat's own commitments to Who (taking up to nine months of every year) have also prevented more episodes from being made. With additional time now available, we may hopefully see an upturn in production.