Iconic science fiction series Doctor Who has named its latest star character, and as has long been rumored there’s now a female Time Lord at the helm of the TARDIS. The BBC has confirmed that actor Jodie Whittaker will be the thirteenth Doctor, replacing Peter Capaldi, who will leave the show after the Christmas special. It’s the first time in the character’s many regenerations that a female actress has taken the role.
Whittaker is no stranger to TV dramas in the UK. Most recently, she finished filming Journeyman, a Paddy Considine drama, and has been selected as the lead in the BBC drama Trust Me. Her credits include ITV drama Broadchurch and the BBC series Cranford. American audiences, however, may know her first for the Emmy award-winning Black Mirror, which became a smash-hit on Netflix.
It’s not the only big change Doctor Who faces in its next season. Steven Moffat is stepping down, to be replaced by Chris Chibnall as head writer and executive producer. “I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman,” Chibnall said of the decision to cast Whittaker, “and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice.”
“Her audition for The Doctor simply blew us all away,” Chibnall continued. “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.”
Unsurprisingly, the decision is already causing waves on social media. While some have reacted strongly against the idea of a female Doctor, many others have welcomed the decision. The character was created in 1963, with the idea of regeneration – where the Doctor’s body is recreated, keeping its memories but introducing a new personality – being a way to change the actors while keeping continuity.
“Making history is what Doctor Who is all about and Chris Chibnall’s bold new take on the next Time Lord is exactly that,” Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of BBC Content, said of the decision. “The nation is going to fall in love with Jodie Whittaker – and have lots of fun too!”
Speaking to the BBC, Whittaker described her casting as “completely overwhelming” and said that it resonated “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.”
To those who might have concerns about a female Doctor, meanwhile, she argued that they should not “be scared by my gender” and pointed out that “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.”
Still to be confirmed is who will accompany Whittaker’s Doctor as companion or assistant, another frequently changing role in the series.