New Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall says he always wanted the thirteenth Doctor to be a woman, with Jodie Whittaker landing the role. Since the classic British science fiction show first launched in 1963, the series has focused on a Time Lord - a race of alien beings - who calls himself the Doctor. Throughout multiple regenerations, even since the show was relaunched in 2005, the Doctor has always been played by a man despite the fact that within the show's canon Time Lords can regenerate as any gender or with any appearance. As such, many fans of Doctor Who have been calling for someone other than a white man to play the Doctor for some time.
Earlier today, Doctor Who made history by casting Broadchurch's Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor, taking over the role from Peter Capaldi, who had portrayed the beloved alien since 2013 and began the regeneration process in the recently aired season 10 finale. The search for a new Doctor has been on since Capaldi announced he'd be leaving the series - with his exit coinciding with the departure of showrunner Steven Moffat. Now, new Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall comments on casting the show's first female lead.
In response to today's casting announcement, Chibnall spoke about the casting process, how he always knew he wanted the next Doctor to be a woman, and how they decided to cast Whittaker in the role:
After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor. I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman and we're thrilled to have secured our number one choice. Her audition for The Doctor simply blew us all away. Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role. The Thirteenth Doctor is on her way.
For those Doctor Who fans who have hoped to see a woman take on the titular role in BBC's long-running science fiction franchise, it's exciting to hear that Chibnall always planned to cast a woman in the role when he took over as showrunner. Plus, since Chibnall worked with Whittaker on Broadchurch, their partnership is that much stronger and should lead to a compelling new take on the franchise. As fans have also pointed out, the casting of Whittaker is only a small step forward in terms of bringing diversity to the lead role of the Doctor, since she offers gender diversity, but not racial diversity. Hopefully, her casting is a sign of more change to come as Doctor Who continues on.
Of course, there are still detractors of Chibnall's casting choice - with some viewers arguing that since the Doctor has always been a man, he should remain a man. However, based on Chibnall's comments on Whittaker's casting, it seems both the series' new showrunner and star are excited to help usher in a new era of Doctor Who.
Doctor Who will return to BBC1 and BBC America at Christmas, with season 11 arriving at some point in 2018.