A new report from British sci-fi magazine Starburst reports that source within the BBC say that showrunner Chris Chibnall may leave the series in 2019 following Doctor Who Season 12. The report suggests that Chibnall has not been happy with the way the show has been run behind-the-scenes.
Should Chinball leave, the rumor suggests that star Jodie Whittaker will exit with him. Chibnall and Whittaker have a previous working relationship from Whittaker’s time on Chibnall’s Broadchurch and, based on the report, she’s not interested in sticking around if Chibnall departs.
Chibnall’s planned departure may also be causing some creative improvising around how Doctor Who Season 12 will be structured. The BBC currently demands that a full series of 10 episodes a year be released. Chibnall reportedly believes that schedule is untenable.
The Doctor Who fansite Outpost Skaro reports that Chibnall and the BBC have come to a compromise and will have Chibnall oversee five or six episodes plus a Christmas Special in 2019. But if the BBC is unable to find a new showrunner promptly, the responsibility to oversee the remaining four or five episodes would fall back onto Chibnall in 2020.
The Outpost Skaro report also suggests that the full series every year schedule isn’t working for Whittaker either. Whittaker had her first child in 2015 and the report suggests that her desire to spend more time with her young child will likely lead Whittaker towards ending her run as the Doctor during the 2019 Christmas special.
The BBC has not commented on these rumors. If the decision for Chibnall and Whittaker to leave is made, the news will likely break officially before their final season premieres.
Whittaker is the first woman to play the Doctor in the franchise’s 54-year history. That’s a responsibility that she takes very seriously.
"It’s more than an honor to play the Doctor," Whittaker said in an interview. "It means remembering everyone I used to be while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.
"It feels completely overwhelming, as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you’re told you can and can’t be. It feels incredible."
Do you hope the rumors about Chibnall and Whittaker are false? Let us know what you think in the comments!
Doctor Who airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on BBC America.