Everyone loves a good Doctor Who rumor, even if it turns out to be false, and no rumor has been more persistent lately than the supposed departure of the current Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, which has been coupled with reports of current showrunner Chris Chibnall also potentially exiting. If a rumor sticks around long enough, it eventually gets proven to be true or false, and that seems to be the case today. As of next year, Doctor Who will have some big vacancies to fill, as the BBC officially announced that Whittaker and Chibnall will take their final bows, opening the door to fresh blood in the legendary sci-fi franchise.
Per the official announcement from the BBC, Doctor Who is planning to end Jodie Whittaker’s stint as the 13th Doctor, as well as Chris Chibnall’s tenure as the series’ steward, through a trio of between-season specials. Set to air in Fall 2022, the big event is also part of the “centenary celebrations” for the BBC itself, which only heightens the importance of what’s to come in the world of Doctor Who. This is all, of course, on top of the series' return this fall for Season 13, with six episodes making up the next run of stories on BBC America.
Also included in the big announcement was a statement from Jodie Whittaker herself. Ever gracious, she thanked everyone who made her time on Doctor Who possible, and ended with a message of encouragement. Whittaker’s statement was, as follows:
In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them. 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. And 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. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever. I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly.
The timing of this news will probably have some Doctor Who fans thinking those previous rumors pertaining to Whittaker’s replacement are more solid than ever. Not too long ago, It’s A Sin star Olly Alexander was hotly tipped to be in advanced negotiations to become the 14th Doctor following his critically acclaimed role. Though, as always, anything unconfirmed will continue to be just that until the BBC officially goes public with a new casting announcement, which is something one would assume isn't happening until some point in 2022. Also, as of this moment, Mandip Gill's returning companion Yaz and John Bishop’s new companion Dan Lewis are not on the chopping block for departure themselves, so it'll be interesting to see how they're used as connective tissue.
As the first female to take over the role of The Doctor, Jodie Whittaker was first introduced in 2017’s season opener "The Woman Who Fell to Earth." Since then, the series has gone through some wild twists and turns, as well as heartbreaking departures from companions we’ve gotten to know along the way. Now, it is time for Whittaker and Chris Chibnall to break hearts of their own while paving the road for the next chapter in Doctor Who history.
For now, fans will have to wait patiently to discover exactly when Doctor Who will return for its final season, as the series is set to broadcast its latest batch of episodes this fall. Meanwhile, the final three special entries of Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor are set to air at some point in the fall of 2022, so there's no reason to mourn 13 just yet. There’s plenty of mystery awaiting in the world of Doctor Who, and as those answers present themselves, we’ll all be inching that much closer to the sad, but inevitable regeneration that awaits our beloved Time Lord. At least there will be lots of Fall TV shows to watch while waiting.