Steven Moffat has been part of the Doctor Who revival since it began in 2005, but following Russell T. Davies’ departure at the end of David Tennant’s run as The Doctor, Moffat took over as the showrunner. Almost six years have passed since then, and Doctor Who will enter its tenth season sometime next year with Moffat still at the helm. As of now, there are no immediate plans for him to leave the series, but he is preparing for that eventuality even as he writes and oversees more episodes.
When it was brought up how he once said he wouldn’t “pass the baton” until the right successor emerged, Moffat admitted to Radio Times that he is on the lookout for that individual. He elaborated:
That is an issue and one I’m actively engaged in but I can’t say much about that. Everything is difficult in Doctor Who, including leaving, and I would never do anything to harm it. I would never leave it in the lurch because it means too much to me. Yes, it’s a problem. Let’s not pretend it’s not a big problem. But there will be a solution. In terms of the emotional difficulty of leaving, it’s hard.
While there have been many outstanding Doctor Who episodes under Moffat’s tenure, he has also had his share of detractors over the years. However, whenever Moffat does leave, it will just be another moment in the continuing Doctor Who cycle. One of the reasons the show has lasted over 50 years is its ability to stay fresh, and not just because The Doctor regenerates every couple of years, allowing a new actor to take the role. Behind the scenes, different showrunners and writers realize their unique visions as the times change, and at some point someone will succeed Moffat to lead Doctor Who in a new direction.
Despite knowing that his time on Doctor Who will eventually come to an end, Moffat also said that he's still happy working on the show, and won’t leave due to not having a good time on it. He said:
I won’t be leaving because I’m suddenly miserable. It’ll be because I want to do something else…
Moffat isn’t the only one considering a life without Doctor Who. The Twelfth Doctor himself Peter Capaldi recently said that Season 10 might be his last year on the show, citing, like Moffat, how he’d like to work on other things. Following Jenna Coleman’s departure in the Season 9 finale, next season will see a new companion traveling with the Twelfth Doctor, but beyond that, it’s possible the next year of Doctor Who will see one of its biggest creative shifts yet, both on screen and off.
While Doctor Who Season 10 is still a ways off, US fans can catch the newest Christmas special “The Husbands of River Song” tomorrow at 9 p.m. EST on BBC America.