Broadchurch star Jodie Whittaker has been announced as the first female to play the titular role in the beloved BBC series Doctor Who and the news has been met with a mixture of praise and doubt from her peers and fans of the show.
The 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, thinks Jodie Whittaker will make a ‘fantastic’ Time Lord and says she has the ‘heart’ to do the character justice.
The 59-year-old actor announced he was quitting the role in January and will hand over the keys to the TARDIS at the end of year and, although some people will be surprised by the decision to cast a female as the lead, he is pleased that executive producer Chris Chibnall chose the actress.
‘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,’ he said.
And it’s not just Capaldi who agrees with Chibnall’s decision to make a lady the lead former Doctor Who actor Colin Baker, who played the title role between 1984 and 1986, told his fans Whittaker ‘IS the Doctor whether you like it or not.’
‘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!’ he wrote on Twitter.
‘Change my dears and not a moment too soon – she IS the Doctor whether you like it or not!’
He added: ‘And to those making ‘parking the Tardis’ jokes – name me one male Doctor that was unfailingly good at that!’
Other stars to praise the move were Star Wars actor John Boyega and Black Mirror screenwriter Charlie Brooker.
While Sebastian J Brook, site editor at Doctor Who Online, admitted he initially wasn’t in favour of appointing a woman in the role.
‘Today’s announcement has been a shock for many fans, but this is a show about change, and perhaps now is the time that we all get behind the idea of a female Doctor?”
‘I must admit, I’ve always been of the opinion that the Doctor is and should be a man. He has always identified as male in the series, and after 50+ years, it’s certainly going to take some getting used to, but I support the show and Jodie is a fantastic actress, so she gets my full support, too.’
Erica Lear, the social secretary at the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, agreed that the move could split fans.
‘I think it’s very brave but she is a brilliant actress. I did not expect it but I think it’s brilliant. My only wish was that we have a good actor and that is what we have.
‘It will spark debate and split fandom; there will be lots of people not happy with the decision but it’s up to the new series to change their mind.’
Elsewhere, the BBC said they can’t wait to see how she’ll depict the time-traveller.
Piers Wenger, Controller BBC Drama explained: ‘Jodie is not just a talented actor but she has a bold and brilliant vision for her Doctor.
‘She aced it in her audition both technically and with the powerful female life force she brings to the role. She is destined to be an utterly iconic Doctor.’
And Matt Strevens, Executive Producer, is looking forward to working with the actress.
‘I’m so thrilled that Jodie Whittaker said yes to playing the Doctor. I’ve been a fan for years and always hoped to work with her.
‘She is an actor of great emotional range and inhabits every role with complete passion and conviction. Just thinking about what she will bring to the Doctor makes me as excited as a kid at Christmas. It’s going to be a lot of fun,’ he said.