Jodie Whittaker will take the reigns from Peter Capaldi, who will depart at Christmas following the conclusion of a special episode alongside David Bradley. Chris Chibnall, the new show runner (and creator of hit crime drama Broadchurch) who’s taking over from Steven Moffat, stated: “After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor.”
“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.”
Whittaker herself stated: “I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey – with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet. It’s more than an honour 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.”
Peter Capaldi added: “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.”
However, the decision to cast a female lead has been contentious among the fandom, with some people praising the choice while others criticise it.
However, the decision to cast a female Doctor is not at all without precedent. We’ve already seen two Time Lords change their genders on the show (the Master and the General in the series 9 finale “Hell Bent”) and writer Neil Gaiman hinted that Time Lords could change genders in the series six episode The Doctor’s Wife.
Furthermore, in the 1980s, Sydney Newman, (who created the show back in 1963 alongside producer Verity Lambert), urged BBC controller Michael Grade to change the Doctor’s sex in order to boost flagging ratings. In the memo Newman stated “At a later stage Doctor Who should be metamorphosed into a woman. This requires some considerable thought – mainly because I want to avoid a flashy, Hollywood Wonder Women because this kind of heroine with no flaws is a bore.”
We’ll have to wait until Christmas to see how Whittaker takes to the job, but as a lifelong fan I’m personally very excited. At any rate, she still has plenty of time to read the sonic screwdriver’s manual.