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Jodie Whittaker Cast as the First Female Doctor Who

The 13th Doctor is in, and after 54 years and 12 previous iterations, your doctor is a woman. Broadchurch’s Jodie Whittaker will be stepping in for current Doctor Peter Capaldi after he leaves the show after this year’s Christmas special, giving Doctor Who a thrilling new reason to re-engage with the show next season. 

BBC made the announcement yesterday, with this accompanying teaser of a hooded figure walking through a forest towards the TARDIS. When the figure opens her hand and shows the key to the TARDIS, she removes her hood and reveals herself; it’s Whittaker, of course.

File Meet the Thirteenth Doctor – Doctor Who

Whittaker was cast after months of secret auditions, and new head writer and executive producer Chris Chibnall told BBC he’d always wanted the thirteenth doctor to be a woman:

“I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one 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.”

Whittaker had this to say:

“I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey – with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet. It’s 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.”

Whittaker has not only been sensational on Broadchurch, a very good British detective drama (her co-star, David Tenant, was the 10th Doctor), she was a breakout star of Attack the Block, the 2011 sci-fi romp that launched Star Wars’ John Boyega’s career. 

So how big of a deal is this? Consider that Doctor Who is the longest-running TV series in British history, a show with as much cultural clout and reach in the United Kingdom as, say, Star Trek has for Americans. The Doctor has always been white and male, and considering British child grow up idolizing the doctor, the impact of having a woman in a role so influential in kids’ lives can hardly be overstated. With Whittaker in the role and a much more forward looking, creative direction (the show has been moving beyond its earlier iterations ever since the 2005 New Who reboot), Doctor Who may take on the kind of relevance globally that it has in England. 

Featured image: Jodie Whittaker, courtesy BBC.

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