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Doctor Who: Jodie Whittaker, showrunner Chris Chibnall set 2022 exit with trio of specials

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Jul 29, 2021, 10:47 AM EDT

We're coming to the end of yet another era of the time-spanning BBC classic Doctor Who. On Thursday, star Jodie Whittaker — who's played the Thirteenth Doctor on the series for the last three years — and showrunner Chris Chibnall announced that they will leave the iconic sci-fi series together in 2022, after three seasons of episodes and a final round of feature-length specials to close out the story. 

"Jodie and I made a 'three series and out' pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast," Chibnall said in a statement. "So now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the TARDIS keys."

Announced as the new Doctor in the summer of 2017, Whittaker made history as the first woman to be cast as the iconic Time Lord known as The Doctor, something fans had long hoped to see. Since then, she's made her time on the series a remarkable one with Chibnall in the storytelling driver's seat, and while they're both leaving soon, there's still quite a bit of story to tell. 

Though we've had just one episode of Doctor Who — the "Revolution of the Daleks" special last January — over the past year, Chibnall and Whittaker are gearing up to make their exit a rather eventful one. Doctor Who will return for a new season of six episodes, described by the BBC as an "event serial" made up of one long story, this fall. During the show's Comic-Con@Home panel last weekend, Chibnall noted that he'd "changed the shape" of the show for this final season (though he didn't confirm it was his final at the time), which will pick up on the Doctor and current Companion, Yaz (Mandip Gill), in the middle of an adventure, when they return into a new companion in the form of Dan Lewis (John Bishop). We should also expect a number of key guest stars to pop up in the new season, including Game of Thrones and Broadchurch star Jacob Anderson as a new character named Vinder. Then, it's time for the specials. 

Chibnall and Whittaker were already planning two feature-length specials for 2022, but now that their departure is confirmed the BBC is requesting an additional special to round out their tenture on the show. So, much as David Tennant did before his departure as the Tenth Doctor, Whittaker will leave us with a trilogy of specials in 2022, then make way for the Fourteenth Doctor.

"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," Whittaker said. "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.”

Doctor Who returns this fall.