Long running sci-fi show Doctor Who is taking 2016 off as it prepares for big changes behind the scenes.

The BBC has confirmed that head writer Steven Moffat will step down as showrunner after the upcoming tenth series. He will be replaced by Chris Chibnall, creator of the Bafta winning Broadchurch.

Moffat said of his departure: "Feels odd to be talking about leaving when I'm just starting work on the scripts for season 10, but the fact is my timey-wimey is running out.

"I am beyond delighted that one of the true stars of British television drama will be taking the Time Lord even further into the future. At the start of season 11, Chris Chibnall will become the new showrunner of Doctor Who. And I will be thrown in a skip."

Moffat, who is also known for creating Sherlock, took over as showrunner from Russel T. Davies in 2010. He has been writing for the show since its revival in 2005, and has won four Hugo Awards for his scripts.

Chibnall, who has written various episodes of Doctor Who and its spin-off Torchwood, will take over once he has finished writing the third and final season of Broadchurch.

On his appointment, the screenwriter says "it's a privilege and a joy to be the next curator of this funny, scary and emotional family drama.

"Steven's achieved the impossible by continually expanding Doctor Who's creative ambition, while growing its global popularity. He's been a dazzling and daring showrunner, and hearing his plans and stories for 2017, it's clear he'll be going out with a bang. Just to make my life difficult."

To prepare for the change, there will be no new series of the show this year. There will only be a Christmas special in December.

BBC controller Charlotte Moore says the show has been delayed so that Moffat's final series can be an "event". The channel is already broadcasting various sporting events, such as the Rio Olympics, throughout the year, leaving little space for the show.

Jenna Coleman played Clara and Peter Capaldi plays The Doctor in the TV show Doctor Who.
Jenna Coleman played Clara and Peter Capaldi plays The Doctor in the TV show Doctor Who.

Peter Capaldi, who took over as The Doctor in 2013, is expected to stay on during the tenth series. The role of his companion is still vacant following Jenna Coleman's departure as Clara last year, though the BBC says that a new companion will be announced before next year.

The new twelve-part series will premiere in autumn 2017.