The duo have been in charge of the Tardis since 2017 and will be leaving BBC Studios’ iconic sci-fi franchise next year. Before they exit, they will bring fans Season 13 this fall and three feature-length specials in 2022, the last of which will mark the end of the Thirteenth Doctor.
Whittaker will be remembered as the first woman to play the Time Lord, bringing warmth and comedy to the role. Her departure has long been speculated and is in line with her predecessors, including David Tennant and Matt Smith, who also completed three seasons before moving on to other projects.
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Whittaker was cast by Chibnall, who stepped into Steven Moffat’s shoes as Doctor Who’s showrunner four years ago. He also brought in Tosin Cole (Ryan), Mandip Gill (Yaz), and Bradley Walsh (Graham), as well as casting Sacha Dhawan as The Master and Jo Martin as the Fugitive Doctor.
“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. “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.”
Chibnall, who is heading for the exit alongside executive producer Matt Strevens, added: “Jodie and I made a “three series and out” pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the Tardis keys. Jodie’s magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations.”
Piers Wenger, BBC drama director, continued: “Over the last four years Chris and Jodie have made Doctor Who history and their time on the show is indelibly marked on our memories. From Rosa Parks to Ascension of the Cybermen, Chris and Jodie have given Doctor Who some of its most life-affirming and tear-jerking moments to date and we are beyond excited to see what they have in store for us in the new series this autumn.”
The first of next year’s specials will screen on New Year’s Day, while it will be followed by a second episode in the spring. Whittaker’s last spin in the Tardis will broadcast in fall 2022 and will form part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations. The show is co-produced by BBC America in the U.S.
No news yet on who will take over from Whittaker and Chibnall, though we know it won’t be It’s a Sin star Olly Alexander, who denied reports in June that he is set to play the Time Lord.