Exiting Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has revealed that he knew the next Doctor would be a woman, but he didn't know who would be playing the role. In a break with tradition, Jodie Whittaker was announced as the first female Doctor in series history, with the actress set to take over from Peter Capaldi when he regenerates during the 2017 Christmas special, 'Twice Upon a Time.'
Capaldi's departure coincides with the departure of showrunner Steven Moffat, while Whittaker's arrival also heralds the start of a new showrunner in the form of Chris Chibnall, who has written for Doctor Who before, and has worked with Whittaker on TV drama, Broadchurch.
Chibnall said that he always knew he wanted a female Time Lord, and, speaking at a press room attended by Screen Rant at San Diego Comic-Con, Moffat revealed that he knew it was coming all along:
“I’ve known for the entire series I’ve been working on that the next Doctor was going to be a woman. I didn’t know that it would be Jodie. I didn’t know that until the Friday before the announcement. I didn’t want to know until Peter knew. That was my rule.”
Moffat's comments also tie in with several references made during Doctor Who season 10, which alluded to females being the future. During one scene, Bill asked the Doctor if Time Lords were "a bit flexible about all of that," to which the Doctor replied "We're the most civilized civilization in the universe. We're billions of years beyond your petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes."
During the finale, a bitter Master, played by John Simm, asked the Doctor "Is the future going to be all girl?" and he answered "we can only hope," well, his hopes have possibly been realized. The arrival of Whittaker into the TARDIS is certainly a massive change, and a step in the right direction, though who will play her companion (and what gender they will be) is yet to be revealed. We do know, though, that Pearl Mackie won't be back as Bill. While some have not taken the news of a female Doctor all that well, Moffat is adamant that it really doesn't make any difference; it's just a pronoun:
"It makes absolutely no difference. It’s a pronoun. This man/woman doesn’t have any masculine qualities and probably won’t have any feminine qualities, either. He’s an alien in the form of a human male, now an alien in the form of a human female and that’s it."
During the Doctor Who Christmas special, when Whittaker will make her debut, we will see Twelve desperately trying to stave off his regeneration, while the first Doctor (played by David Bradley) will put in an appearance to remind him that it's time to leave. The future Doctor might be played by a woman, but if Moffat's opinions are taken into account, viewers shouldn't notice all that much of a difference in her actions, thoughts, and words.
Doctor Who will return to BBC America and BBC 1 at Christmas, with 'Twice Upon a Time.' Season 11 is expected to arrive mid-2018.