BBC announced the news in a video posted to the official BBC America Twitter account Friday morning. Peter Capaldi will officially be departing the cult-favorite series after three seasons as the 12th Doctor.
Capaldi is the fourth actor to play the hero since the 2005 reboot of the long-running science fiction show: Christoper Eccleston played the Doctor for the first season, with David Tennant (arguably the most well-received actor) taking on the role for the second, third, and fourth seasons. Matt Smith stepped into the Doctor’s shoes for the following three seasons leading up to Capaldi’s tenure. The ability to cast different actors in the role hinges on the fact that the alien Doctor, when suffering a mortal wound, “regenerates” rather than dies.
Showrunner Steven Moffat, also of “Sherlock,” is leaving the series as well, possibly to the gratification of some fans and critics who argued that since Moffat’s takeover of the series from Russell T. Davies in 2010, “Doctor Who” had gone downhill in some respects. He will be replaced by Chris Chibnall of “Broadchurch.”
Speculation about the next Doctor begins almost as soon as the new one is selected, and some have wondered whether the 13th Doctor will be a woman, breaking the long streak of male Doctors paired with (generally) female companions. If the gender of the Doctor does indeed change, Olivia Colman is a fan-favorite to take up the mantle, particularly since she already has a relationship with Chibnall from her role on “Broadchurch,” as well as the backing of co-star Tennant.
Several other actors have put their names forth for the role, whether in jest or seriousness, but all will be revealed Sunday.