Broadchurch star Jodie Whittaker has been named the next Doctor, making her the first woman to play the titular role in Doctor Who‘s history when she takes over for Peter Capaldi, who departs with this year’s Christmas special.
The new season will be a reunion for Whittaker and Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall, who’s taking over duties as Doctor Who‘s head writer and showrunner from Steven Moffat. “I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey — with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet,” Whittaker says in the announcement from BBC and BBC America. “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.”
Chibnall adds that he always knew he wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman, and Whittaker (who still had to fight for the role) was his first 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 networks had Whittaker answer a series of questions. Here are 5 things Whovians need to know:
1. She understands the weight of this moment. “To be asked to play the ultimate character, to get to play pretend in the truest form: this is why I wanted to be an actor in the first place. To be able to play someone who is literally reinvented on screen, with all the freedoms that brings: what an unbelievable opportunity. And added to that, to be the first woman in that role. … 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.”
2. She also understands that there may, unfortunately, be a backlash to her casting. “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.”
— BBC One (@BBCOne) July 16, 2017
3. That is not her Doctor’s costume in the filmed announcement. She doesn’t know what she’ll be wearing yet.
4. She hasn’t gotten advice from other Doctors yet because they didn’t know about her casting until now. “I’m certainly expecting a couple of calls — I’ve got a couple of mates in there. I’m mates with a companion [Broadchurch‘s Arthur Darvill], I’m mates with a trio of Doctors. I know Matt Smith, Chris Eccleston and obviously David Tennant. Oh! And let’s throw in David Bradley! Four Doctors! So I’m hoping I get some calls of advice.”
5. Here’s how Chibnall approached her about the role (which went by codename “The Clooney” in her home and with her agent): “We had a strange chat earlier this year where he tricked me into thinking we were talking about Broadchurch. And I started to quiz him about his new job in Wales, and asked him if I could be a baddie! And he quickly diverted the conversation to suggest I should consider auditioning to be the 13th Clooney. It was the most incredible chat because I asked every question under the sun, and I said I’d take a few weeks to decide whether I was going to audition. He got a phone call within 24 hours. He would’ve got a phone call sooner, but my husband was away and there was a time difference!”