— Doctor Who Official (@bbcdoctorwho) July 16, 2017
Jodie Whittaker has been announced as the new star of Doctor Who, the BBC’s flagship Saturday evening family science-fiction drama. She will take the lead for series 11 which is expected air in late 2018. Whittaker will take over from Peter Capaldi who has played the Time Lord since 2013, becoming the Thirteenth Doctor (maybe 14th, maybe 15th, really depends how you think about it). In reality, the number doesn’t really matter. The character will just be known as the Doctor. The announcement was made in a special clip screened on BBC One following the Wimbledon Men’s Final, which is apparently some kind of sporting event.
The announcement was teased across BBC social media in this video which sees the number 13 appearing across the world in locations including 10 Downing Street, the Sahara desert, the white cliffs of Dover, the Statue of Liberty and on road signs, because no one could think of other things to write it on. The TARDIS key can also been seen on some kind of plinth on a hill, which is weird.
Jodie Whittaker follows in the footsteps of leading men William Hartnell (1963–66), Patrick Troughton (1966–69), Jon Pertwee (1970–74), Tom Baker (1974–81), Peter Davison (1982–84), Colin Baker (1984–86), Sylvester McCoy (1987–89), Paul McGann (1996), Christopher Eccleston (2005), David Tennant (2005–10), Matt Smith (2010–13) and Peter Capaldi (2014–present).
Whittaker most recently starred in Broadchurch and has also appeared in Black Mirror on the small screen, and her film credits include Attack the Block, St Trinians and One Day.
This isn’t the only change for the show. Steven Moffat has stepped down as showrunner with his final episode, a multi-Doctor story featuring the the Twelfth and First Doctors, airing this Christmas. Chris Chibnall is set to become the modern show’s third showrunner following in the footsteps of Moffat who has held the reins since 2010, and Russell T Davies, who oversaw the relaunch of the show in 2005.
Chris Chibnall is today best known for his work on ITV crime drama Broadchurch but has a long history with Doctor Who having served as showrunner of spin-off Torchwood for its first two series. He has also contributed the occasional episode to the mother show since 2007 writing real time thriller ’42’, Silurian two-parter ‘The Hungry Earth’ and ‘Cold Blood’, the high concept romp, ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’ and inconsequential ‘The Power of Three’.
With the change of regime, it’s expected that there will be new companions on board with Pearl Mackie’s Bill and Matt Lucas’ Nardole both having bowed out during the series 10 finale. Going by past form, it’s likely there will be a full redesign of the show’s only standing set – the TARDIS console room as well as a new arrangement of the opening titles, theme music and logo, causing a nightmare for branding.
The new regime are apparently part of a five-year strategy for the money-spinning Doctor Who brand for BBC Worldwide with the show being distributed throughout China in a deal with SMG (Shanghai Media Group).
Jodie Whittaker will make her first appearance in the 2017 Christmas special before taking to the TARDIS full time in 2018.