Get to know Jodie Whittaker, the new Doctor
Ivan Radford | On 16, Jul 2017
This Christmas, Peter Capaldi will leave the TARDIS and be replaced by Jodie Whittaker. The first ever female Doctor, the 13th Time Lord to pilot the iconic blue police box was unveiled today after the Men’s Wimbledon Final.
Chris Chibnall, New Head Writer and Executive Producer, who will take over from Steven Moffat at the same time that Jodie enters the TARDIS, always wanted to have a woman as the new Time Lord.
“After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor,” he said in a statement today. “I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice. 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.”
Get to know Jodie Whittaker with our quick Q&A:
Who’s Jodie Whittaker?
Exactly! Seriously, though, Jodie is one of the best British actresses around, starting out professionally at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in The Storm, before going on to make her breakthrough screen performance in the excellent Venus, earning her a Best Newcomer nomination at the BIFAs. Since then, she’s been in a whole range of films and TV shows.
Where have I seen her before?
You’ll most likely know her as Beth Latimer, the grieving mother of Danny Latimer in ITV’s Broadchurch. But she’s also been in Black Mirror (The Entire History Of You – its best episode), BBC’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Black Sea, One Day, Attack the Block and the charming Adult Life Skills. She’ll next be in Journeyman, written and directed by Paddy Considine, which just finished shooting, and also stars in new upcoming BBC drama Trust Me.
Are any of those on Netflix?
Black Mirror is on Netflix UK, plus you can watch both Adult Life Skills and Attack the Block on Amazon Prime Video. Click on the titles to read our reviews and see the full list of where you can watch them online.
Wasn’t Broadchurch also by Chris Chibnall?
Yes, it was – and that’s when he asked her to try for the part.
“We had a strange chat earlier this year where he tricked me into thinking we were talking about Broadchurch,” reveals Whittaker. “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,” she adds. “He would’ve got a phone call sooner, but my husband was away and there was a time difference!”
Did she need any persuading to take the role?
“No. There was no persuasion needed,” she explains. “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.”
Why did she want to be the Doctor?
“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,” she comments. “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.”
Who was the first person she told when she got the role?
“My husband,” she jokes. “Because I was allowed to!”
The pair referred to the role as “The Clooney” in public, to prevent anyone else realising what they were talking about.
What does it feel like to be the first woman Doctor?
The casting of a woman as the Doctor is a long-awaited, game-changing moment, as it gives a whole new generation of young viewers the chance to see themselves not just as a companion, but as a Time Lord in their own right. How does it feel to be at the heart of that?
“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 enthuses. “It feels incredible.”
What is her message for the show’s fans?
There’s a small group of Doctor Who fans who don’t like the idea of the Doctor regenerating as a woman, but Jodie says she doesn’t want them to be afraid of change.
“I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender,” she says. “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.”
What is she going to wear?
A huge part of any Doctor is their outfit, but the clothes in the filmed sequence that introduced Jodie as the Doctor were not her official costume. So what is she going to wear while piloting the TARDIS? “Don’t know yet,” she says.
Does she have any connection with Doctor Who apart from Chris?
Whittaker is, of course, friends with David Tennant from Broadchurch, but she also knows several of the other actors who have been in Doctor Who over the years.
“I’ve got a couple of mates in there,” she reveals. “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!”
“I’m certainly expecting a couple of calls,” she adds. “So I’m hoping I get some calls of advice.”
See the video announcing Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor here.