In a special announcement following the Wimbledon Men’s Final, the BBC announced the identity of the official 13th Doctor for the long-running DOCTOR WHO series. It’s Jodie Whittaker. You probably knew that from the headline and photo.
Whitaker is best known for Broadchurch, the series that incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall created for ITV in 2013. She will make her first appearance in the 2017 Christmas Special, set to broadcast on Christmas Day/Boxing Day (depending on what side of the dateline you’re on).
The news comes as little surprise, even with the fairly broad-brush speculation of everyone from Tilda Swinton to the pre-announcement frenzy over Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Indeed, much of the most recent season had heavily hinted about a gender swap for the Time Lord.
So what does this mean for the show going forward? It means progress. While fan demand shouldn’t necessarily be the guiding force behind casting and story-driven content, the historic casting of the first woman in the role is a strong statement from an institution as old as DOCTOR WHO (and the BBC) that representation is important. It means the millions of fans around the world get something other than a foppish man in a fez to aspire to. To paraphrase The Doctor in the season finale, “The future is female.”
Story is naturally still going to be an important draw-card for the series. Also coming in with Whittaker is the aforementioned new showrunner Chibnall, announced all the way back in January 2016. Chibnall has an excellent history in telling engaging story arcs, and is perhaps best known for his work as the showrunner of drama series Broadchurch, starring 10th Doctor David Tennant. He’s also written at least half a dozen DOCTOR WHO episodes, including “42” and “The Power of Three”, along with as many Torchwood outings.
If we had a TARDIS, we could tell you what happens next. For now, we wait and see what the future holds for the franchise when we open the gift of a new Doctor at Christmas.