Once Peter Capaldi announced his departure in January, every Whovian wondered who would replace him. After months of intense speculation, the BBC finally announced the actor stepping into the role of The Doctor. Internet rumours swirled around actors Kris Marshall and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, despite denials from the later. Today, the BBC put those rumours to rest and announced Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor.
— Doctor Who Official (@bbcdoctorwho) July 16, 2017
Whittaker is probably best known for her role as Beth Latimer in ITV’s Broadchurch (also starring former Doctor David Tennant and produced by incoming show runner Chris Chibnall). She also appeared in Attack the Block and St. Trinian’s. Chibnall told BBC that her audition “blew us all away”, calling her a “funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature [who] will bring loads of wit, strength, and warmth to the role.” As a pretty big Whovian myself, these sound like perfect qualities and characteristics for the Doctor to posses. In the same interview, he explained that he had always “wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman” and called Whittaker their “number one choice”. Capaldi is also a fan of this casting decision, saying:
“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.”
Former (?) companion, Pearl Mackie, tweeted out her excitement at the announcement:
— Pearl Mackie (@Pearlie_mack) July 16, 2017
Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor, also tweeted out his support for Whittaker’s casting:
Well I never the BBC really did do the right thing and let the Doctor be in touch with her feminine side. As a father of daughters – result!
— Colin Baker (@SawbonesHex) July 16, 2017
Whittaker also spoke with the BBC about her excitement, telling them that she is “beyond excited to begin this epic journey – with Chris and with every Whovian on the planet.” She continued, saying that it is “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.”
From a fan’s perspective, this all bodes well for the upcoming series. Unfortunately, there is bound to be criticism, especially from those who are particularly resistant to change. Whittaker is the first woman to take on the role of the oft-troubled Time Lord in the show’s 50+ years on the air, despite “The Doctor’s Wife” establishing that a Time Lord is not bound to one particular gender over any other. Many fans believed that the Master’s reappearance as Missy was testing the waters; gauging fan reaction to a woman in the place of a traditionally male role. If that’s the case, we definitely owe a world of gratitude to Michelle Gomez for being the perfect Missy.
Personally, I believe it is time for a woman Doctor. The show has been around for over 50 years and takes place in a world where Daleks and Mosters and Weaping Angels and Cybermen are real. You can’t honestly tell me that a Doctor being played by a woman isn’t “realistic” but totally buy the fact that a statue can send a person back in time. And if the idea upsets a person that much, they can go back and rewatch the older series. There were 12 Doctors played by men, so you’ll have plenty of episodes to choose from.
Misogynist fanboys may be resistant to change, but I honestly believe that most of the Whovian fandom can embrace a Doctor played by a woman. It’s hard to put into words how meaningful it is to see someone like you in popular media, not only for current fans but for emerging Whovians as well. All children, regardless of gender, benefit from seeing strong role models of all genders represented in the media they consume. Casting a woman to play the Doctor, or a Ghostbuster, or a Jedi, will not ruin anyone’s childhood. But it can enrich and improve those of others. While it will still be hard to lose Capaldi, I am excited to see what Jodie Whittaker will do with this role. She’s an amazing actor who can bring a lot to the role. Is it Christmas yet?