The thirteenth Doctor has been officially confirmed as Broadchurch's Jodie Whittaker. Peter Capaldi announced that he would be leaving Doctor Who back in January, 2017, and ever since then, speculation has been rife concerning who might take over control of the TARDIS, what age they might be; their ethnicity, and even their gender. The news was announced immediately after the Wimbledon Men's final on BBC 1. As Capaldi departs Doctor Who, so too does showrunner Steven Moffat, with Broadchurch showrunner and Doctor Who writer, Chris Chibnall, taking his place.
Clearly having listened to the growing voice that were rooting for a female Doctor, incoming showrunner Chibnall decided to break with tradition and be the first showrunner to take a chance on a woman as the lead of Doctor Who. This is no doubt to the sheer delight of many, and to the horror of some. However, what should be remembered is that Chibnall has cast the person he feels most suitable of conveying the Doctor in the way he wants. A female Doctor gives way to endless new and exciting possibility, not least an entirely new style of writing, and certainly plenty of jokes about the gender switch. In fact, the gender switch was foreshadowed in the season 10 finale, with 12 pointing out that though earth was progressive, other civilizations are “billions of years beyond your petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes.”
Whittaker has a history of working with Chibnall, having played the role of grieving parent, Beth Latimer, in Broadchurch. She has proven time and again that she is a strong and capable actress, certainly gifted in delivering powerful and emotive performances. Her comedic talents, an aspect that has always been an integral part of the Doctor’s personality, have not really had a chance to come to the fore in her previous work, but it’s a pretty safe bet that Chibnall will have made certain she’s capable of that, too. Only time will tell what kind of Doctor she will make, of course, but the appointment of a female certainly takes the show in a new and exciting direction.
— Doctor Who Official (@bbcdoctorwho) July 16, 2017
Whittaker will make her first appearance in the 2017 Christmas special, when the regeneration will take place. However, Capaldi's regeneration actually started in the season 10 finale, though he was seen trying desperately to stave it off. The Christmas special also features the return of David Bradley as the first Doctor (originally played by William Hartnell). Again, he stepped in at the end of season 10, seemingly to convince 12 that it is time to go, but no doubt he will have an even more integral role when the episode finally arrives.
It is also rumored that Jenna Coleman will briefly return as Clara Oswald at Christmas, to say a final farewell to 12. Pearl Mackie and Matt Lucas are also expected back as Bill and Nardole, respectively, to say their goodbyes. While Mackie's future as the Doctor's companion is not officially confirmed either way, it seems very likely that the strong rumors are correct and she won't be back, instead opting to travel through space with Heather at her side.
Whittaker has beaten out a whole host of names that were rumored for the role, including Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Kris Marshall, Ben Whishaw, Andrew Scott, and Sacha Dhawan. While her name might not be good news for all, the bottom line is this; no casting, whatever the gender, age, or name that had been revealed, would have been pleasing to everyone. Viewers must trust that Chibnall and the BBC have cast the best actor in the role and hopefully, Doctor Who will thrive with Whittaker as the Doctor.
Doctor Who will return to BBC America and BBC 1 at Christmas. Season 11 will arrive in 2018.