Say this about the last year: a female President didn’t happen, but we did get a female Doctor.
With Jodie Whittaker’s casting as the 13th Doctor, “Doctor Who” has reached a new historical milestone, a moment many never thought would come. Gender-flipping has been an established part of the “Doctor Who” mythology, but the fact that the series lead has gone from white male to white male to white male over the course of its 50-plus years had us less than optimistic that chance would ever happen.
That said, it’s heartening to know that from the beginning, the plan was always to cast a woman as the next Doctor: A release from BBC America quotes new showrunner Chris Chibnall as saying, “I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman, and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice.”
Jodie Whittaker is perhaps best known as Beth Latimer of “Broadchurch,” a young mother struggling with the loss of her son. (It may certainly be how Chibnall knew of her, as the creator of “Broadchurch.”) Her other prominent roles include “Attack the Block” and the “Black Mirror” episode “The Entire History of You.”
Honestly, what’s so exciting about Whittaker as a casting choice is that she’s not a gimmick, not an expected selection. She’s just a quality actress, a woman with talent and spunk and the right mindset to take on the TARDIS. It’s almost as if the role should be filled by the best performer possible, regardless of race or gender.
“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,” Whittaker said in a BBC America release.
What does it feel like, to be the first woman Doctor? “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,” she said.
“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,” she added.
We don’t know what the 13th Doctor will wear (her costume in the announcement video is not her official look) but we can’t wait to see Whittaker take on the role, beginning with the Christmas special this December.