Announced by the BBC on Sunday (just after Wimbledon’s men’s final), the news that British actress Jodie Whittaker will be Doctor Who‘s 13th Doctor is already making big waves as it came as a surprise to many fans of the show.
In the video announcement, above, called ‘Meet the Thirteenth Doctor’, the mystery is kept right until the end of the 1-minute teaser when an enigmatic character uncovers her head, unveiling herself as the new Time Lord before walking toward the TARDIS in the middle of the forest.
Whittaker, who is 35 and has played in various movies and TV series, such as Attack the Block, Broadchurch and Wired, will make her first appearance during Doctor Who‘s upcoming Christmas Special after the famous Doctor, currently portrayed by Peter Capaldi, regenerates.
The regeneration concept has been introduced by the writers of the series back in 1966 (yep, it’s that old – actually Doctor Who is TV’s longest-running sci-fi show) as a way to replace its leading actor every now and then. But never before has the Doctor been a female protagonist.
“I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey – with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet. It’s more than an honor to play the Doctor,” said Jodie Whittaker in a statement. “It means remembering everyone I used to be while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.”
Backing the BBC’s choice (for some controversial) to make the show’s main character a woman, the actress also added, “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. It feels incredible… I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender. 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.”
Although some admirers of the series quickly expressed their dissatisfaction following the announcement, most TV actors – like Peter Capaldi himself – and writers alike demonstrated their support for the decision.
“After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor,” stated new showrunner Chris Chibnall. “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.”
The Doctor Who Christmas Special will air on BBC America on Christmas day.