Jodie Whittaker: 6 things you didn't know about the first female Doctor Who

Telegraph Reporters
- Rii Schroer

Actress Jodie Whittaker is on the brink of becoming a household name after she was announced as the first female Doctor Who on Sunday.

The 35-year-old has become familiar on British screens in recent years after being cast as grieving mother Beth Latimer in ITV crime series Broadchurch. However, from Christmas she will travel through time and space in BBC One's landmark sci-fi drama. 

Before then, we present a few things you may not know about the woman behind the new Time Lord: 

1. She says she could never have worked in an office

Jodie Whittaker Credit: Rii Schroer

It's a good job that Whittaker has maintained a steady line of critically acclaimed film, stage and TV roles since her early twenties, because the actress has never been one for sitting quietly in a normal workplace. 

"I am a quiet person’s nightmare. The only time I shut up is when I’m reading, because I’m a book geek," she told The Daily Mail in 2010. "I was the attention-seeking child in class who needed everyone to look at meee. Luckily that got channelled into acting, because I would have been terrible at anything else. I would have been a nightmare in any kind of office, because I wouldn’t have had any friends in any environment other than performing. I’m quite loud and quite overconfident – I’m a vain 27-year-old actress". 

2. She loves ‘obscure Chinese documentaries’

Whittaker was described as a "film buff" in a 2011 interview with The Guardian after displaying a nerdy knowledge of “everything from Ringwald, Young Guns and The Goonies to obscure Chinese documentaries" with the writer. In 2010, she was part of the British Independent Film Awards judging panel, when she wasn't filming Elephant and Castle-based sci-fi spoof Attack the Block or anthology TV series Accused.

3. She's maintained starry company since drama school

Whittaker trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which she applied to instead of university, and studied alongside Captain America's Hayley Atwell and Michelle Dockery, best known for her work in Downton Abbey. She made friends with Gemma Arterton after the pair were cast in the BBC's adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbvervilles, and both were reunited in St Trinian's, released a year later in 2007, in which Whittaker played Rupert Everett's secretary Beverly.

4. Her code name for Doctor Who was 'The Clooney'

Jodie Whittaker as the Time Lord Credit:  Universal News (Europe)

With such feverish anticipation over who would play the new Time Lord, Whittaker was sworn to secrecy over the role that could come to define her career. Such secrecy, in fact, that it wasn't even spoken about in the household she shares with her husband, American actor Christian Contreras. 

“In my home, and with my agent, it was The Clooney,” she told fan site Blogter Who. “Because to me and my husband, George is an iconic guy. And we thought: what’s a really famous iconic name? It was just fitting.”

5. Whittaker filled in for Carey Mulligan with just two hours' notice

When Mulligan contracted appendicitis mid-way through the run of The Seagull at the Royal Court in 2007, it was Whittaker who was called upon with just two hours' notice after originally auditioning for the role. “I’ve never been so scared in my life, it’s like your worst nightmare, walking on stage and not knowing your lines. I got a phone call at 5pm. Can you do this?” She told The Independent.

“I was actually more concerned that I’d not had my tea. I was walking around starving and anxious that I didn’t eat and had to sit in a corset and was thinking, ‘I’m going to have a sugar low in a minute’. When we bowed I thought, ‘I don’t think I’m doing this again!’.”

When Mulligan returned to health, Whittaker was nothing but gracious, saying: “Carey powered back to health after a few days – she was an absolute warrior. And when I saw her on stage again, I realised why I hadn’t got the job in the first place.”

6. She starred alongside her husband in an award-winning indie comedy

Whittaker's last film credit was in Adult Life Skills, a homespun comedy written by her friend Rachel Tunnard (who also appears in the film) that won the Nora Ephron Prize at Tribeca Film Festival in 2016. It sees Whittaker speak with a northern accent not far from her own as Anna, a 29-year-old grieving for her twin brother and living in a shed at the bottom of her mum's garden. Contreras appears as Hank, a potential suitor.

 

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