Who would have thought that the announcement of the casting of a main character of a TV show would create such a stir? Speculation has been rife since Peter Capadli announced he would hand the sonic screwdriver over to the next person in January. There have been calls for many years for more diversity in the show. The Doctor’s unique ability to change form means that casting a woman was a possibility if not a likelihood. What was clear is that such a move would divide fans. However, new director Chris Chibnall (creator of Broadchurch) decided to take the plunge and cast Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor.
Jodie Whittaker’s Most Critical Roles
She’s a name that will be familiar to most people if not at the forefront of the mind of great British actresses. Most people will know her from Chris Chibnall’s excellent crime drama Broadchurch. However, this was neither the beginning nor the pinnacle of her career. Science fiction genre fans will recognise her as one of two main characters in the dark comedy Attack the Block in which she plays a nurse mugged by the group of lads with whom she would later work to fight off an alien invasion on the sink estate where she lives.
She was also in the ghostly drama Marchlands earlier in the decade. Set in the same house over three generations (the 1960s, 1980s and present day), it follows the events of the death of a young girl in the house and her subsequent haunting of it. Whittaker appeared in the 1960s section.
Fans of the critically acclaimed Black Mirror may also remember Whittaker from the episode The Entire History of You. In this story, people have implants in their brain that allow them to re-live memories rather than remember them. Husband Liam (Toby Kebell) think’s he has uncovered his wife’s affair (played by Whittaker) and obsessively replays memories to uncover the truth.
What Jodie Whittaker is Likely to Bring to Doctor Who
It’s important to note that the UK’s longest running show (approaching 54 years) thrives on change. It is constantly reinventing itself for relevance to the demands of the modern audience while remaining, essentially, the same TV show with the same character at the helm of the same TARDIS. Regardless of whether there is a woman or a man at the console’s helm, the announcement of anyone taking over was bound to divide fans. Change is and always has been an opportunity to take the show in a new direction.
Whittaker’s casting is the biggest change in the show’s history but it’s too early to say just how Doctor Who will change until we see Whittaker in 2018. It’s likely that The Doctor will now primarily have a male companion and everybody looks forward to that all-important costume change. As to Whittaker’s on-screen persona, she is articulate and not scared to face challenging roles. She is no stranger to the genre so is unlikely to appear ill at ease playing a 2000-year old alien that has always been male until this point. She has received plaudits from fans and critics alike for her portrayal of a mother going through all the stages of grief in Broadchurch.
Fans know that anybody playing The Doctor requires a good balance of gravitas and playfulness today. Capaldi, Smith, Tennant and Ecclestone did so in slightly different ways but always remained true to the character. Supporters have pointed to Whittaker’s on-screen confidence and natural screen chemistry making her ideal for the role. She’s done comedy in Attack the Block and St Trinians and serious roles in Broadchurch and Marchlands.