Jodie Whittaker becomes first woman to play Doctor Who
Fire up the TARDIS, because Jodie Whittaker is the new face of Doctor Who — and the first woman to ever play the title role.
The BBC announced Whittaker’s casting on Sunday morning after the Wimbledon Men’s Final.
The actress will be taking over the titular role when the show returns for its highly anticipated Christmas Special later this year, where the beloved Time Lord will “regenerate,” thus transforming from current series star Peter Capaldi into Whittaker’s 13th Doctor. The Broadchurch actress will be the 13th person to hold the title of the Doctor since the long-running British science fiction series first premiered in 1963.
Whittaker is the first female to play Doctor Who in the franchise’s history. However, as viewers will be aware, women playing Time Lords isn’t a particularly new concept for the show. Until recently, the latest incarnation of the Master — one of the Doctor’s most dangerous foes, and a fellow Gallifreyan — was female, with Missy being brought to life by Michelle Gomez. And while previous seasons of the show have poked fun at the Doctor possibly having been female in his youth, the most recent two-part season finale saw Twelve comment on it once more, telling his companion Bill (played by Pearl Mackie), “We’re billions of years beyond your petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes.”
Capaldi isn’t the only one leaving. Current showrunner Steven Moffat will also be stepping down, with the upcoming Christmas Special — which sees Game of Thrones‘ David Bradley once again don the familiar coat and scarf of the First Doctor as he joins his older self for his latest adventure — serving as his last episode before new showrunner Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch) takes over.
“There’s new monsters, there’s new jeopardy. But what’s fascinating is the First Doctor confronting the superhero he’s going to become, with his supersize TARDIS and all that,” Moffat tells EW of this last episode. “It’s my show up to the point Mr. Capaldi regenerates. Then it passes to Chris, and he worries about the last section.”
With a new Doctor already cast, and a new showrunner in place, the only thing left is the announcement of who will serve as a companion to the latest version of the Time Lord, as both recent companions Bill Potts and Nardole (played by Pearl Mackie and Matt Lucas, respectively) have since left the Doctor — though with enough open-endedness for them to make a comeback, should Chibnall choose to have them. Thus, Moffat has left his successor with as clean a slate as his predecessor Russel T. Davies did for him in 2010.
The Doctor Who Christmas special airs Dec. 25 on BBC America.