Peter Capaldi might be putting down his sonic sunglasses for good in this year’s Christmas special, but new Doctor Who boss Chris Chiball wanted the actor to stay at the TARDIS controls.
“Chris tried to persuade him to stay,” said former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat to Broadcast. “I knew it was a possibility that [Capaldi would] leave because Doctors tend to do three years. I thought that he might want to opt out, rather than go through the trauma of a change in command and maybe leaving a year later anyway. But I think he came close to staying.”
Despite how close Capaldi came, Broadchurch creator Chibnall is now leading the search for the 13th incarnation of the Time Lord – a search that Doctor Strange star Tilda Swindon is now favourite for.
In the same interview, Sherlock co-creator Moffat also spoke about his own departure from Who after the next series, saying he’d almost left the show at the end of Matt Smith’s run: “For various reasons, during my third series I wasn’t as happy. It was the only time doing Doctor Who where I felt it was slipping away from me a bit. I wasn’t quite as in control of it as I should be. I wasn’t enjoying it as much, and I wasn’t as pleased with it.”
“I didn’t want to leave like that, so I tried to persuade Matt to do another year, but he was determined to go. And then having cast a new Doctor, I had to stay – and I wanted to because I was thoroughly enjoying working with Peter.”
However, Moffat is leaving with Capaldi after seven years at the head of the show – and says he won’t be writing any more Who episodes for a while. Which won’t be easy on him: “I’m sure I’ll miss it for the rest of my life,” Moffat said, “and reminisce to very bored people about how I used to be something, I used to matter, then sob on their shoulder and get kicked out the pub.”
Yet however sad they are to see Moffat leaving, it's hard for Who fans to be anything but excited at the moment: the new series starts 23 April 2017.