Yesterday, The Times newspaper and its weekend Magazine had Jodie Whittaker on the cover.  The article – The Doctor – In a Dress? – was based on an interview Andrew Billen had with showrunner Chris Chibnall and the Doctor herself, Jodie Whittaker.

As with most of the discussion with the Doctor Who cast and crew there was little information on the series.  Despite the ongoing leaks, the set has been remarkably silent on the programme providing little information.  I must admit, the lack of official information does make it a bit more challenging to promote the show, but we are expecting a deluge of promotional material in the two weeks leading up to the show.

Everything is new

Back to what we did manage to glean from The Times article and Chris Chibnall’s response.  First, to be clear, this is a brand new slate – everything will be different.  New showrunner, new Doctor, new Companions, new TARDIS, new sonic, and new enemies.  That means there will be no Daleks, no Cybermen, no Weeping Angels, no familiar foes.  It will be a leap into the unknown.  A few other characters that won’t be back are Missy played by the speculator Michelle Gomez, and according to Chris Chibnall, no River Song.

So, it will a completely fresh start.  That has been said before, but with the number and the degree of changes, I think we can take Chris Chibnall at his word.  He was hired to shake things up at Doctor Who, and he definitely has.  You will be hard-pressed to come up with any more changes.

Mandip Gill, Jodie Whittaker and Tosin Cole- 'Doctor Who' Exclusive - ' Variety Portrait Studio Comic-Con, Day 3, San Diego, USA - 21 Jul 2018 - Photo by Andrew H. Walker
Mandip Gill, Jodie Whittaker and Tosin Cole- ‘Doctor Who’ Exclusive – ‘ Variety Portrait Studio Comic-Con, Day 3, San Diego, USA – 21 Jul 2018 – Photo by Andrew H. Walker

Jodie Whittaker – The Doctor and the Prop Department

From the outset, Chris Chibnall had decided that the Doctor would be a woman, but he didn’t make the decision that it would be Jodie Whittaker.  Whittaker was having lunch with the man responsible for her most familiar role, Beth Latimer (Broadchurch) and in a story that sounds very similar to David Tennant’s discussions with Russell T Davis, she begged Chris Chibnall for a small part in Doctor Who. Instead of getting that “small part”, Whittaker was part of the secretive audition for the new female Doctor.

Based on Andrew Billen’s article, it is pretty clear that Whittaker was who Chibnall wanted from the onset.  Which all makes sense.  He remembered her reading for the Broadchurch role and knew from the 5 years of working with the actress that she could clearly do the emotion and strength required for the Doctor.  And as someone who has seen Whittaker on numerous panels with the likes of David Tennant and Olivia Colman, let me assure you Whittaker can definitely do comedy.  She is always laughing and brings everyone else along with her.

But Chibnall wanted to be sure that Whittaker could manage technobabble. So while she was filming Trust Me in Glasgow, the soon-to-be Doctor had one more scene to audition.

“So there was one scene that was the archetypal Doctor defusing a bomb that’s about to go off.  I thought, ‘I know she can do emotion.  I know she can do the humour and the energy. Can she do the technobabble?’  And she constructed a prop for herself.  When the scene came back on the video, she was with a box with wires coming out of it.  She really fought for this part.”

– Chris Chibnall on Jodie Whittaker’s final audition for Doctor Who.

We’d love to see the videos featuring Whittaker’s homemade prop.  She might be the first Doctor who had two roles in the series – acting and props department.

Aside –  Just a quick nod to Whittaker.  I was at the first BAFTA screening of Broadchurch and spent quite some time chatting with two self-important producers.  Why these two “important women” were talking to me, I have no idea, but I do remember they declared that Whittaker wouldn’t be able to do more than a Broadchurch type role and that her career would flounder.  You definitely proved them wrong.

Matt Strevens, Chris Chibnall, Mandip Gill, Jodie Whittaker and Tosin Cole 'Doctor Who' TV show photocall, Comic-Con International, San Diego, USA - 19 Jul 2018 - Photo by Startraks Photo/REX/Shutterstock
Matt Strevens, Chris Chibnall, Mandip Gill, Jodie Whittaker and Tosin Cole
‘Doctor Who’ TV show photocall, Comic-Con International, San Diego, USA – 19 Jul 2018 – Photo by Startraks Photo/REX/Shutterstock

The Doctor – The Woman – The Role Model

Growing up, my role models weren’t women.  They were astronauts, engineers, scientist, sci-fi actors and more.  I didn’t classify anyone as male or female. I just saw things I wanted to do and gravitated to the people that were doing them. And in that sense, Doctor was always a role model for me.

“I am asked an awful lot about girls looking up to me as the first female Doctor, but just as important is boys looking up to women.”

– Jodie Whittaker on The Doctor as A Role Model.

As such I see one of the most important roles for Whittaker is to be a role model for young boys maybe more so than young girls.  So it is heartening to see that Whittaker believes that as well.  In The Times article, she clearly recognises her importance to the young of today. Hopefully, Whittaker’s Doctor doesn’t have to be seen as a loss of role model for young boys as some of claimed, but rather a new type of role model inclusive for all.

An Inclusive Doctor For Divided Times.

Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker have put their heart and soul into this series.  The changes have divided the fanbase even before the first episode airs.  Without being too expansive, the division in Doctor Who fandom mirrors the divisive nature in politics, nations and people.  While it would be silly to talk about Doctor Who healing the country, perhaps we can recover the fandom.  Certainly, Chibnall believes in his Doctor.

“We are in very divided times. I think this Doctor is a beacon of hope and unity and inclusion. Before the first take, the crew was all over the place, and then Jodie did it, and they moved towards the monitor to watch it.  They sort of looked to me and said ‘She’s just the Doctor!’ I hope that’s what the audience, if they haven’t felt it already, will feel by the end of the first episode.”

– Chris Chibnall speaking to Andrew Billen  – The Times Magazine – 8th September 2018.

This article is based on Andrew Billen’s article in The Times’ Magazine from interviews with Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker.

The Times can be purchased at newsstands around the country and online.

16 COMMENTS

  1. After changing so much its a big mistake to get rid of all the old foes for the dr. Secondly trying to dictate to people how they watch tv. We don’t watch tv as families any more so don’t presume.

  2. Big mistake leaving out some of the old foes, that’s what made Dr who,. Leaving out the master (missy) is a very big no. She plays the part very Weill and brings in a fresh feeling of mysticism to her character.

  3. No Cybermen, no daleks, no master, no tv series. Boring! She can’t even drive the TARDIS. How patronising! Bring back a proper doctor!! 👿😈

    • I totally agred Chibballs and BBC
      Have killed Doctor Who. As Far as i am concerned Peter Capaldi
      Regenerated back in hiz First Incarnation.

  4. Guys… Chibnall didn’t say there wouldn’t be ANY returning monsters during the entire Whitaker run. I think they just mean for the first season.

  5. You tell us all this good stuff about Jodie Whittaker, but it’s not her I have a big problem with, it’s Chris Chibnall! He wrote that cubes episode which even an eight year old I knew was pointing out massive plot holes in the next day. Jodie was professional enough to assume she would have to watch all the old episodes to prepare for the role, but Chris reportedly told her, ‘Oh no, don’t do that, we don’t want any attention paid to continuity round here! Otherwise you might end up playing the character that people know and love, instead of the new one I want to invent!’ (Or words to that effect.) That was what made up my mind about whether I’d want to watch this new series. (Not that I watched the previous one, but I had thought a change of staff make make it good again. But clearly it’s only going to get worse.)

    Also, you say that growing up you didn’t classify anyone as male or female. What changed? Clearly you classify people as male or female now, and think it’s important that the Doctor will be female. So when did you start classifying people that way? And how is it you believe this Doctor can be ‘a NEW type of role model inclusive for all’, if you looked up to the Doctor as a child, and therefore must have found the Doctor to ALWAYS have been a role model inclusive for all? What is it that you think will be so different now, hmm?

  6. I’ll give the new series 2 years. Departing from the tried and tested formula won’t work. No Daleks or Cybermen.Big mistake.
    Bad enough turning him into a woman. If they want Doctor Who to fail, l think they’re going the right way about it.

  7. I’ll give the new series 2 years. Departing from the tried and tested formula won’t work. No Daleks or Cybermen.Big mistake.
    Bad enough turning him into a woman. If they want Doctor Who to fail, l think they’re going the right way about it.

  8. People are being far too harsh without giving this a chance. I will miss Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie. However, I thought Broadchurch was great, and I was excited for the possibilities Jodie Whittaker could bring. Missy used to be the Master. Let’s enjoy the ride.

    • Hi Mary.
      All l am saying is that you can’t just take a character who has been a man for over 50 years and arbitrarily turn him into a woman. This is a total departure from everything that made it the fantastic show we all know and love. I feel that there are millions of hitherto loyal fans who feel badly let down by this idiotic decision.l admit that this is only my humble opinion, there are other ways that could be found to keep the character male. A female doctor. No Daleks, no cybermen no familiar monsters?
      As far as l can tell this is a recipe for disaster. The death knell is ringing.

  9. What we want is a return to the show we all loved. When the original series was running, l gave up after Tom Baker left. Up to that point l was a fan. The first 4 actors WERE the doctor. I looked at Bill Hartnell, Pat Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker and thought yes YOU ARE the doctor. After the Baker era it went into terminal decline as far as l was concerned. PD, CB and SM lacked the presence and charisma of the first 4.. Alas this is de jevu. When RTD ran New Who you kinda knew everything was in safe hands. CE and DT stamped pretty hard on it. Both were good. DT was excellent. Then RTD and DT left and it went rapidly downhill from that point on. SM’s writing was ghastly. And neither Matt Smith or Peter Capaldi could pull it back from the brink.
    Both lacked whatever David Remnant had. Je ne c’est croix That’s how l feel about this latest nonsense.. Oh well, c’est la vie.

  10. What will be interesting is whether all the so-called die-hard fans of Dr Who who have said they will quit watching will actually continue to watch. As for the non-appearance of the old enemies in the first season, I suspect that the second season (if there is one) will quickly bring back the Master (or Missy or Mastress), Daleks, Cybermen, etc. And when it comes down to it, even pay Tom Baker a billion pounds to return to the role to win back lost viewership.

  11. I sure hope the next showrunner retcons what this Chinball fool has done to Doctor Who. If there is even a next showrunner. I hate what has been done. Breaks both of my hearts!

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