As we get closer to the premiere of Doctor Who on 7th October, the PR machine has started and there are a number of interviews with the new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, discussing her companions, the new series and of course the Doctor.
One of the first ones out in the UK is the October 2018 Marie-Claire UK magazine. Jodie Whittaker is the first Doctor to grace the cover of a female-focused fashion magazine (I am pretty sure that is accurate but I know some fan will correct me if ever David Tennant or such has been of the cover of Glamour or any other fashion magazine. – BW Editor). And that type of positive publicity is what the BBC has been looking for so that Doctor Who can grow a more diverse audience for the UK and abroad. But while the focus is on the Doctor’s femaleness, Jodie Whittaker is quite frankly loving the role and all it brings.
Much has been said online and in other print magazines about Whittaker’s response to the question are you playing the Doctor as a girl or as a boy. Her ‘I’m just playing it’ comment from the Marie Claire interview is appearing everywhere. A great sound bite but her other answers in the October 2018 magazine on sale now were much more interesting.
The actress best- known as Beth Latimer in Broadchurch (before her casting in Doctor Who) picked up on how society treats women roles. “When I was doing press for Broadchurch I noticed the male actors would be asked, ‘what is like playing that character?’ I’d get, ‘What is it like playing a mother?’ but the male characters were never referred to as ‘a father.’ ” She added that female characters are always referred to in a terminology that is gender-specific.
That lack of gender specification in her role as the Doctor is profound. “The best thing for me though is that, for the first time in my life, I am not playing a stereotypical woman because as much as I approach everything as an actor, I am continually labelled by the female version of that character,” Whittaker replied in her interview with Marie Claire’s editor, Trish Halpin.
Jodie Whittaker has it right. Society, both men and women, place women in terms of gender-specific roles. Women frequently only self-identify as mothers, wives and girlfriends and spend forever focused on their looks rather than their talents. And this isn’t just a “male problem.” It is often how both men and women see the value of women. How many times in a day do you hear a woman introduce herself or be introduced in terms of her relationship to someone else? For example, as someone’s wife or someone’s mother. It is worth noting that Whittaker has never described herself in terms of her relationships but instead she defines herself in terms of the roles plays. Perhaps that is why Whittaker sees the part of portraying the ancient Time Lord as her “most freeing role.” It is “because there are no rules.”
“Mind you, I quite like hope. Hope is a good emotion.”
I am keenly aware of the irony that this interview is a fashion magazine surround by photos of a stunningly attractive actress. But it is her replies and that glimpse of her Doctor that has given me hope. Hope that her Doctor will be seen for what she does not her gender or her looks. And hope that the Thirthirteenth Doctor will shatter that glass ceiling for both men and women.
Catch the full interview with Jodie Whittaker on Marie Claire UK – 30th Anniversary – October 2018 magazine and purchase a copy on sale now at newsstands around the country.