Back when Capaldi was cast as Doctor Who in 2013, months before the 50th anniversary, and more than a year before he actually took over the role, he made noises about how impressed he was with Moffat, but that he didn’t know how long he’d stay in the role. He didn’t quite come out and say at the time “I’m only staying until Moffat leaves, ” but there was definitely the sense that Capaldi knew Moffat only had a few years as show runner left, and that he figured he would not make the transition to a new one.
Perhaps the BBC at the time didn’t know if it would want Capaldi to stay? Perhaps it just seemed so far in the future, it wasn’t worth thinking about. But three years and two spectacular seasons later, the heads of the BBC find themselves in a horrendous position. Moffat has already announced his retirement over a year out. The assumption by all is that Capaldi will follow. This is an enormous amount of turnover for one of BBC One’s most popular long running programs, and at the worst time possible: with the charter renewal up in Parliament and Cameron and his cronies sharpening their knives, the BBC desperately needs to shore up their position.
They already dropped the expensive Formula One racing broadcast, and allowed BBC Three to go online only to cut costs. Popular shows like Strictly Come Dancing are under intense scrutiny as well, with people questioning if this sort of fare wasn’t too lowbrow for the Beeb. (Nevermind that it’s extraordinarily popular, both for the BBC and for BBC Worldwide with the international versions like Dancing with the Stars.) The BBC cannot at the juncture afford to have a full Whovian slate turn over.
With all this is mind, it’s not a surprise that Capaldi admitted yesterday in an interview he’d been asked to stay on. Speaking to the RadioTimes, he said:
“I’ve been asked to stay on, but it’s such a long time before I have to make that decision. Steven’s been absolutely wonderful, so I love working with him. Chris is fantastic, and I think he’s a hugely talented guy. I don’t know where the show’s gonna go then. I don’t know. I have to make up my mind, and I haven’t yet.”
“As Steven will tell you, it’s very difficult to say goodbye.”
From the sounds of it, Capaldi himself is wavering at the idea of leaving the show. He is, after all, an admitted fanboy himself, having watched the program from the time it was on in 1963. The show has made him a world wide household name in his late fifties. And I’m sure the BBC made it clear that they feel they *need* him, which is hard to say no to.
But it also means having to learn to work with a completely different showrunner style. And he did not sign up to work Chris Chibnall, he signed up to work with Moffat. So one can understand the hesitation. For those who never warmed to Capaldi’s angry Doctor style, I’m sure they are hoping he’ll move on. But personally I love the prickly Scotsman version of the Doctor, and I hope the BBC can sway him into staying on, at least for one more season.