As Peter Capaldi wraps up his tenure as our favorite time traveling, sometimes campy, often brilliant, Doctor Who, BBC has revealed his replacement. And. Wait for it. It is Jodie Whittaker–a choice that bucks the tradition of selecting exclusively male actors to play the role–a tradition that has held for more than fifty years. Not surprisingly, the cowardly sexist attacks have already begun as the fragile egos of the few crumble. We can only hope those people keep their promise and take their viewing choices elsewhere. For the rest of us, we have a powerfully strong actress, and I couldn’t be more excited to see the approach she takes with the character.
Whittaker brings a sterling resume to the show. Like many of her predecessors, she has spent time on the Shakespearian stage and is famous for her stints playing hard drama. The latest Doctor showrunner, Chris Chibnall, made this pick for obvious reasons: he worked with the actress on the show Broadchurch, which he created. Whittaker’s performance in Broadchurch is evidence that she can handle a breadth of complexity and seriousness essential to the best incarnations of this iconic character.
Famously the previous showrunner, Steven Moffat, had resisted the casting of a female Doctor Who while working as its head. And, famously, he had been unfairly savaged and misquoted to make him appear vehemently against a gender change for purely sexist reasons. The fact is Moffat had a story to tell and a vision to capture. He did a wonderful job. It’s undeniable. With Chibnall, we have a new vision, a new story, and a new Doctor. We’d all be better off forgetting the gender and listening to that new story. In an interview with BBC, Whittaker said, “Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change…The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.” I agree with most of her comment. The Doctor has always been about the spirit of change and adventure…and fear. Fear may be the most important part of the Doctor’s story. Let’s embrace the change–and the fear. Walking bravely into our own discomfort is what defines us. Forward, Whovians! Forward!