Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker

Jodie Whittaker tells us about becoming the new Doctor Who at NYCC: ‘It’s not a blank slate’

Contributed by
Oct 7, 2018

This afternoon at NYCC, the latest actor to take on the role of Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker, sat down with SYFY WIRE on our live stage to talk about stepping into a character who's been on TV since 1963. 

"Playing the Doctor, it's not a blank slate," Whittaker told the enthusiastic crowd. "You have this incredible, rich history, you also have these extraordinary shoes that you are about to put on that 12 -- or 13, however everyone counts them -- have worn before."

Whittaker, along with new showrunner Chris Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens, had premiered the latest episode, "The Woman Who Fell To Earth," earlier in the day. Needless to say, it immediately won over both fans and skeptics alike. Whittaker said part of that appeal is telling a story that's faithful to the show's history while still reflecting the world we live in today. 

"The wonderful thing about it is that it's only relevant to me now because this is me -- my age, my life experiences -- are what I'm bringing to it," Whittaker said. "That's only representative of now, as well as the journey of the Doctor and all those wonderful things you can bring to it."

Chibnall compared the changes, which includes the first ever female Doctor, to the show's "radical re-think" in 1970. Back then, Doctor Who changed producers, went from black and white to color, and cast an all-new Doctor (Jon Pertwee) without showing the transition. 

"Doctor Who is born out of radical change," said Chibnall. "It happens every three or four years, some changes more radical than others. But it's an experimental, risk-taking, bold show. What that did is connected with the world in 1970. It talked to concerns that were going on there, and that's what we're trying to do this year. You want to make the thread back to 1963 and that first episode and go 'What does that show feel like in 2018?' It's still the same show, it's a continuation, but it's open enough you can own it this year. It's for everyone." 

"You really fall head over heels into the role," Whittaker added, who seems absolutely elated to be playing the 13th (or 14th) Doctor. "What is addictive is the positivity and the hope and the striving. You just want to bring it out in your own life."

The 11th season premiere of Doctor Who will be playing throughout the week on BBC America, and is promising lots more to come for the rest of the season. Also, be sure to click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of NYCC 2018, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.

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