Capaldi announced his decision to leave the show during a recent interview with BBC Radio 2 presenter Jo Whiley. Rumors have swirled for months that Capaldi might be ready to leave the iconic British sci-fi series, but up until this week he'd repeatedly told reporters and/or anyone who asked that he hadn't made his mind up yet. The series' tenth season is slated to begin April 15th, though Capaldi is currently slated to continue on in the role through the 2017 Christmas special.
Here's official confirmation from the series' official Twitter:
"I’ve never done one job for three years. I feel it’s time for me to move on to different challenges," he told Wiley. "I feel a bit sad but rather wonderful. What a privilege to have done this. You have to be aware of when it’s time to move on. They asked me to stay on—my contract had run out—they asked me to stay. I thought, “I love this but I don’t know how long I can do it and give it my best.” I want to move on to other challenges but there’s never been something that’s more special to me."
By the time Twelve regenerates, Capaldi will have played the Doctor for three seasons spread over three years. That's about as long as Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith's run, in terms of time passed. However, due to the fact that Doctor Who only aired one installment - the Christmas special - during all of 2016, Capaldi will depart having only appeared in about 40 episodes. In a way, it feels like we barely got started getting to know him (and Twelve) - though it's likely the series' generally grueling production and promotional schedule must surely wear on anyone after a while.
But Capaldi still has nothing but praise for his experience as the Doctor. “One of the greatest privileges of being Doctor Who is to see the world at its best," he said. "From our brilliant crew and creative team working for the best broadcaster on the planet, to the viewers and fans whose endless creativity, generosity and inclusiveness points to a brighter future ahead. I can’t thank everyone enough. It’s been cosmic.”
Given the rather massive behind-the-scenes shake-up already in progress, this isn't that surprising. Showrunner Steven Moffat is already set to depart following the series' tenth season, to be replaced by Chris Chibnall, whom you may already know from his work on Torchwood and Broadchurch. New companion Pearl Mackie is joining the cast for Season 10, but there's no guarantee she'll be aboard the TARDIS beyond that point. In fact, the smart money may be on the BBC deciding to give Chibnall a completely blank slate, and letting Twelve, Bill and regular guest star Matt Lucas all depart the show together.
As for who might replace Capaldi? No one knows anything on that front. Since the BBC did originally ask him to stay on, there may not be much in the way of a casting process to speak of at the moment. Plus, Season 10 hasn't aired yet, and the Christmas episode hasn't been filmed. Chibnall's Season 11 isn't slated to air until some point in 2018. So they have some time to work with - and a lot of questions to answer. Capaldi himself apparently favors actress Frances de la Tour as his replacement, and he's not alone in hoping that the Doctor might be a woman in his next regeneration. How likely is such a groundbreaking switch? At the moment - and probably for the foreseeable future - nobody knows.
At least we still have thirteen more episodes to spend with Twelve before we have to say goodbye to Capaldi forever.
What say you all? Will you be sorry to see Capaldi go? Who are you hoping to see as the next Doctor?