Not a complete surprise, but sometimes it feels like these decisions get strung out. I got the feeling when the Shakespearean hiatus cropped up that David would get the urge to roam – but it took a little while longer for the final announcement.
To some extent, the fact Russell and David leave at the same time means the show can start with a clean slate – but, does that necessarily represent a good thing. I have no doubt about Steven Moffat’s credentials in taking over, but to have him do that with a completely new actor – a completely new cast, for that matter… unless they choose to have a companion tag along from one of the four feature-length episodes from 2009/10.
Only time can tell – and in the meantime, it will be interesting to see where Russell takes the storyline during the specials. I would hope that these episodes have some meaning, and that they don’t simply serve as storytelling fluff to fill the void. I want to see progress in the overall arc of the Last of the Time Lords, and the promise of something substantial and meaty, whether within the episodes or as a forerunner of the events to come in the fifth season. The Doctor should never regenerate in a hollow act… the sacrifice should be noble, dramatic and significant, with all the meaning that the story can muster.