New Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker and the series’ showrunner Chris Chibnall are rumoured to be quitting the show next year.
A report in the long-running science-fiction magazine Starburst says that Chibnall is dissatisfied with the way the show is being run behind-the-scenes by the BBC. Whittaker, who previously worked with Chibnall on the hit ITV drama Broadchurch, is said to be leaving the show in sympathy for her friend and colleague.
The story claims that the pair will leave after a second season together next year, which, due to their disagreements with BBC bosses, is likely to consist of only six episodes. This compares to the current season’s run of 10 episodes.
Whittaker’s publicist referred NME to Doctor Who‘s publicity team when approached for comment, with the show’s press office yet to respond.
Starburst‘s report doesn’t specify why Chibnall is said to be dissatisfied, but it isn’t the first time the show has faced behind-the-scenes issues. Christopher Eccleston, the first actor to play The Doctor when the series returned after a 16-year break in 2005, quit after just one series when he fell out with then-showrunner Russell T Davies.
Whittaker and Chibnall’s first series, which has three episodes left, has generally been a success with both the public and critics. Although there had been a section of Doctor Who fandom unhappy at Whittaker being the first female actor to portray the long-running Time Lord, she instantly won the majority of the audience over. Whittaker’s first episode, titled The Woman Who Fell To Earth in honour of the 1976 movie in which David Bowie made his film debut, was watched by 10.54 million viewers with an audience appreciation figure of 83%.
Ratings have since dipped to an average of around 7.5 million viewers, but Whittaker’s performance has generally been praised, as have those of fellow regular cast members Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole as The Doctor’s friends. This series has also seen the first people of colour write for Doctor Who in its 55-year history, including successful children’s author Malorie Blackman and playwright Vinay Patel.
On taking over the show, Chibnall said he wouldn’t be featuring any of the show’s established monsters such as Daleks or Cybermen. Instead, new alien foes – including the Pting – have been depicted. The series has also reintroduced historical stories, which have tackled subjects ranging from US civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks to the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. This coming Sunday’s story depicts witchcraft in 17th century England.
The show’s Christmas special, which has run every year since 2006, will instead be aired on New Year’s Day.