The Doctor is in, and she is Jodie Whittaker. The Broadchurch star becomes the first woman to play Doctor Who.
“It feels completely overwhelming, as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you’re told you can and can’t be,” Whittaker said when asked about being the first female Doctor. “It feels incredible.”
Whittaker is the 13th Doctor and will begin her duties aboard the TARDIS for the 11th season since BBC revived the long-running series. She replaces Peter Capaldi, who will end his run in this year’s Christmas special.
Whittaker joins the show along with new head writer, exec producer and showrunner Chris Chibnall, who has written many a “Doctor Who” episodes over the years. He takes over for Steven Moffat.
“I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey—with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet,” Whittaker said in a press release. “It’s more than an honor to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.”
The choice of Whittaker as the most famous Time Lord further solidifies the ties between “Broadchurch” and “Doctor Who.” She portrayed Beth Latimer, the grieving mother turned advocate, for three seasons in the crime drama currently airing Wednesdays on BBC America. Chibnall created that series—which also stars the 10th Doctor, David Tennant. David Bradley, who played First Doctor William Hartnell, also appeared in Season 1 of “Broadchurch.”
While many Whovians are happy to watch the first female Doctor and celebreated on Twitter, some have complained that the Doctor should remain, as always, a man. Get over it, say I. Whittaker was more diplomatic in a Q&A from BBC America,
“I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender,” she said. “Because this is a really exciting time, and ‘Doctor Who’ represents everything that’s exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.”
It’s a bold move that I believe will change the storytelling in exciting ways and thus, rejuvenate the more than 50-year-old series.
How will they reconcile the relationship between this Doctor and River Song? Will the companion be a man or a woman—or a couple? Will Thirteen be less condescending and ruthless? (Is even asking that last question sexist?)
“I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our No. 1 choice,” Chibnall said. “Her audition for The Doctor simply blew us all away. Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role. The Thirteenth Doctor is on her way.”
“Doctor Who” already established that Time Lords can regenerate as different races and genders. The latest iteration of the long-running villain The Master became The Mistress during Capaldi’s time as the Doctor. Michelle Gomez plays The Mistress.
Whittaker also has starred in “The Entire History of You,” an episode of the anthology series “Black Mirror.” American also may have seen her in “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” and “Cranford,” both of which have been shown on PBS.
BBC and BBC America made the announcement after Roger Federer won his record eighth Wimbledon men’s singles title. (Martina Navratilova won nine women’s singles titles.)
What do you think about the casting of Whittaker as the new Doctor Who? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. But first …
Whittaker answered more burning questions in the press release provided by BBC America. She talks about the secretive audition process, how she found out she was chosen and the George Clooney connection.
What does it feel like to be the Thirteenth Doctor?
It’s very nerve-racking, as it’s been so secret!
Why did you want the role?
To be asked to play the ultimate character, to get to play pretend in the truest form: this is why I wanted to be an actor in the first place. To be able to play someone who is literally reinvented on screen, with all the freedoms that brings: what an unbelievable opportunity. And added to that, to be the first woman in that role.
Has it been hard to keep the secret?
Yes. Very hard! I’ve told a lot of lies! I’ve embroiled myself in a whole world of lies which is going to come back at me when this is announced!
Who was the first person you told when you got the role?
My husband. Because I was allowed to!
Did you have a codename and if so what was it?
In my home, and with my agent, it was The Clooney. Because to me and my husband, George is an iconic guy. And we thought: what’s a really famous iconic name? It was just fitting.
What are you most excited about?
I’m most excited about becoming part of a family I didn’t even know existed. I was born in 1982, it’s been around longer than me, and it’s a family I couldn’t ever have dreamed I’d be part of.
How did Chris sell you the part?
We had a strange chat earlier this year where he tricked me into thinking we were talking about “Broadchurch.” And I started to quiz him about his new job in Wales, and asked him if I could be a baddie! And he quickly diverted the conversation to suggest I should consider auditioning to be the 13th Clooney.
It was the most incredible chat because I asked every question under the sun, and I said I’d take a few weeks to decide whether I was going to audition. He got a phone call within 24 hours. He would’ve got a phone call sooner, but my husband was away and there was a time difference!
Did he persuade you?
No. There was no persuasion needed. If you need to be persuaded to do this part, you’re not right for this part, and the part isn’t right for you. I also think, for anyone taking this on, you have to want to fight for it, which I certainly had to do. I know there will have been some phenomenal actors who threw their hats in the ring.
Have any of the other Doctors given you advice?
Well they can’t because they haven’t known until now, but I’m certainly expecting a couple of calls—I’ve got a couple of mates in there. I’m mates with a companion Arthur Darvill, I’m mates with a trio of Doctors. I know Matt Smith, Chris Eccleston and obviously David Tennant. Oh! And let’s throw in David Bradley! Four Doctors! So I’m hoping I get some calls of advice.
From Peter Capaldi:
“Anyone who has seen Jodie Whittaker’s work will know that she is a wonderful actress of great individuality and charm. She has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She’s going to be a fantastic Doctor.”