The rumour mill is once again trundling along, and today, it’s treading well-worn tracks: The Mirror is reporting that Peter Capaldi is set to leave the role of the Twelfth Doctor in order to make Doctor Who feel like “a brand new show” again. This would also include the departure of Pearl Mackie, who is expected to play companion, Bill Potts in next year’s Series 10.
According to the newspaper, Capaldi will leave alongside showrunner, Steven Moffat at Christmas 2017, leaving incoming head honcho, Chris Chibnall to cast a “young male lead”; apparently, the BBC is looking for someone akin to the Tenth Doctor. Pearl, meanwhile, is said to have only signed up for one year, and that contract will presumably not be extended. An unnamed source says:
“BBC management wants a return to the format from the David Tennant era, when you had a dashing male lead and young female companion. Merchandising has dropped off sharply in recent years and there is a strong desire to boost the show’s popularity among kids.”
Of course, right now, nothing is confirmed. It’s all just conjecture. This could all be true; equally, it could be made up. Smart money, however, says it has some basis of truth, not necessarily about departures but more to do with the BBC’s attitude towards rejuvenating the show. It would be terrible to see Capaldi and Mackie given an unfair end of the deal merely because merchandising has taken a downturn – especially as that’s the BBC’s fault. Why would licensees make an extra effort when: i) Doctor Who is largely missing from the TV schedules this year? ii) And when it is on, it’s hardly publicised and shunted between time slots?
Hopefully, the latter problem at least will be amended when it moves back to the spring next year.
Nonetheless, this does stink of the BBC pointing the finger at the wrong sections of production.
The Mirror further states that the corporation wants a full series each year, and that it should be more accessible. And that’s hard to dispute. That is, after all, how Doctor Who‘s audience will increase. Still, this was likely Chibnall’s plan regardless. The show could still feel fresh and exciting with the same leading man at the helm, and we have to hold out hope that Chris knows how to do this. He should be a safe pair of hands, actually: no matter what some corners of fandom reckon, as far as the BBC is concerned, he’s a solid bet. He’s proved he can write great headline-grabbing drama (Broadchurch), is reliable, and knows the history of the show inside-out so he shouldn’t anger the audience.
Peter Capaldi’s involvement in Series 11 has also been rumoured – indeed, Steven Moffat has said he has no reason to think he’ll be writing a regeneration, and Capaldi has apparently been approached to stay on – so we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed.
The problem with this rumour is that I could’ve written that article – purely doing a small bit of research, not having anything to do with production or being privy to private conversations. We’ve heard rumblings about what the next series entails already, and that’s in line with a potentially-spoilery comments from that same source:
“Episode three of the new series features the snake monster that lives under the Thames. Then in episode four, we find out why our floorboards squeak – there are giant woodlice in there. Another episode features killer robots that have emoji faces. They like to give hugs, then reduce their victims to skeletons.”
The emoji faces story certainly works with what we’ve glimpsed during filming, and Mike Bartlett’s (Doctor Foster) episode is definitely set in a haunted house where the floorboards creek. This does all come after the licensees meeting with some production members in which the new series was teased. This could be a case of the media adding 2 and 2 together. But we don’t know their final figure yet.
It’s easy to take such reports with a pinch of salt, but equally, there may be a hint of truth too.
We’ll just have to wait and see…
Would you like a clean slate? Should Capaldi be given a chance under the pen of Chris Chibnall? Let us know below!