Jodie Whittaker to quit Doctor Who

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Jodie Whittaker, who is quitting Doctor Who - Dave J Hogan/Getty
Jodie Whittaker, who is quitting Doctor Who - Dave J Hogan/Getty

Jodie Whittaker is to quit Dr Who after becoming the first female to play the main role in the show.

She is to be followed out of the door by the writer who made the decision to cast her - Chris Chibnall.

During their reign, the BBC has been accused of turning the iconic programme woke, and ratings in 2020 slid to one of the the worst in Doctor Who's 58-year history.

The pair will exit the show in a three-part mini series which will air in 2022 as part of the BBC's Centenary celebrations.

The first special will air on New Year's Day 2022, the second will be later in the spring and the third, when the Doctor will regenerate, will air in autumn 2022 and will form part of the BBC's centenary celebrations.

Jodie Whittaker said: "In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them.

"My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life.

"And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories. We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together.

"So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.

"I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly."

Whittaker, 38, took over from Peter Capaldi in 2017, and was voted the second most popular doctor of all time in a poll of more than 50,000 fans for Radio Times.

But the first female doctor was not enough to stem the flow of viewers.

Her departure will once again open up the role of the doctor and prompt questions about a successor.

Despite My Family and Death In Paradise star Kris Marshall being linked with the role of the Doctor for a number of years and previously being favourite to replace her, he has slumped to 10/1 according to Betfair.

The bookmaker is also offering odds on Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Line of Duty's Vicky McClure and Richard Ayoade.

But Michaela Coel - the British actress and writer best known for creating and starring in the E4 sitcom Chewing Gum between 2015 and 2017 for which she won the BAFTA Award for Best Female Comedy Performance.

The bookmakers' favourites to replace Whittaker:

  1. Michaela Coel (4/1)

  2. Michael Sheen (6/1)

  3. Olly Alexander (6/1)

  4. Kelly MacDonald (6/1)

  5. Vicky McClure (7/1)

  6. Richard Ayoade (8/1)

  7. Phoebe Waller-Bridge (8/1)

  8. Maxine Peake (8/1)

  9. Natalie Dormer (8/1)

  10. Kris Marshall (10/1)

Chris Chibnall said: "Jodie and I made a 'three series and out' pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the tardis keys.

"Jodie’s magnificent, iconic doctor has exceeded all our high expectations.

"She’s been the gold standard leading actor, shouldering the responsibility of being the first female doctor with style, strength, warmth, generosity and humour.

"She captured the public imagination and continues to inspire adoration around the world, as well as from everyone on the production.

"I can’t imagine working with a more inspiring doctor – so I’m not going to.

"For me, leading this exceptional team has been unrivalled creative fun, and one of the great joys of my career. I’m so proud of the people we’ve worked with and the stories we’ve told.

"To finish our time on the show with an additional Special, after the pandemic changed and challenged our production plans, is a lovely bonus. It’s great that the climax of the thirteenth doctor’s story will be at the heart(s) of the BBC’s centenary celebrations.

"I wish our successors - whoever the BBC and BBC Studios choose - as much fun as we’ve had. They’re in for a treat."

Her casting was announced after the Wimbledon men's final of 2017.

Whittaker said being named the new Doctor felt "completely overwhelming, as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you're told you can and can't be".

Whittaker made history during the 2017 Christmas special when Capaldi's version of the beloved character regenerated and she became the first female to fill the role since the show began more than five decades previously.

Her first full episode as the Doctor, which aired in 2018, was aptly titled The Woman Who Fell To Earth and drew the programme's biggest launch viewing figures in 10 years.

Whittaker's first series earned praise for her performance but also some complaints about "politically correct" storylines about Rosa Parks, the partition of India and witch trials.

By March 2020, the show had slumped to its lowest ratings since the programme was revived in 2005.

Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama, said: "Over the last four years Chris and Jodie have made Doctor Who history and their time on the show is indelibly marked on our memories.

"From Rosa Parks to Ascension of the Cybermen, Chris and Jodie have given Doctor Who some of its most life-affirming and tear-jerking moments to date and we are beyond excited to see what they have in store for us in the new series this Autumn.

"Jodie's final adventure to mark the BBC's Centenary in 2022 is set to be a Doctor Who Special to remember. I’d like to thank them both for their incredible work on the show."

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