BBC Names Jodie Whittaker the Next ‘Doctor Who’ Lead, the First Woman in the Role
Art and Experience: Jodie Whittaker will be the 13th Doctor in “Doctor Who” and the first woman in the role after the BBC named her Sunday as the new time lord, one of the world’s most iconic sci-fi characters on television.
“Attack the Block” and “Broadchurch” star Whittaker will be seen on BBC One in the U.K. and on BBC America in the U.S., as well as globally, with the long-running sci-fi series still one of BBC Worldwide’s biggest-selling shows internationally.
“I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey, with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet,” Whittaker said. “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 new Doctor was revealed in an interstitial after the climax of the Wimbledon men’s tennis finals on BBC One and on the official “Doctor Who” Twitter feed. The Doctor has taken female form before, as ‘Missy’ (Michelle Gomez), and was very briefly played by Joanna Lumley as part of a series of regenerations in a single episode, but Whittaker will be the first Doctor to be played by a woman for a whole series.
She replaces Peter Capaldi (“In the Loop”) who became the 12th doctor in 2013 and who told BBC radio in January that it was “time to move on.” Capaldi replaced Matt Smith, who went on to star in “The Crown.”
Capaldi paid tribute to Whittaker. “Anyone who has seen Jodie Whittaker’s work will know that she is a wonderful actress of great individuality and charm,” he said. “She has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She’s going to be a fantastic Doctor.”
“Doctor Who” was first made in 1963, but its current incarnation dates back to a 2005 reboot with Christopher Eccleston in the title role. He was succeeded by David Tennant.
Writers and showrunners at the helm since the reboot have included Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat, who teamed with another “Doctor Who” writer, Mark Gatiss, on another fan favorite, “Sherlock.” Moffat is leaving the show with Capaldi and has a new project and a “Dracula” series in the making with Gatiss.
The final episode of the Moffat and Capaldi era is a special scheduled for Christmas Day. Chris Chibnall of “Broadchurch” has already been named the new “Doctor Who” showrunner. His first season next year will be the 11th of the new generation of the show.
Chibnall said: “I always knew I wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman, and we’re thrilled to have secured our No. 1 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 producers had teased fans on Friday with a video on YouTube, which featured 10 Downing Street and the Statue of Liberty, before revealing a message: “Meet the 13th Doctor after the Wimbledon Men’s Final.”