Jodie Whittaker Praises ‘Loyal, Wonderful Fanbase’

Jodie Whittaker sat down on Lorraine’s comfy sofa to talk about keeping her fingers crossed that her casting as the first female Doctor will attract a new audience to the show.

Speaking to Christine Bleakley on ITV’s Lorraine about new BBC series Trust Me, which started this Tuesday, Whittaker emphasised opening up the show to new viewers:

“It’s got a huge audience, and a huge fanbase, and a loyal, wonderful fanbase.

“But you know, maybe this will open it up to maybe some new young faces who haven’t necessarily been introduced to it yet.

“Cos what you forget is, we’re so lucky – if I’m the Thirteenth [Doctor] there’s so much to watch and catch up on, that it doesn’t matter what age you come into it. You’ve got this wealth of amazing television to watch.”

That legacy is something that Whittaker clearly takes very seriously, as she recounted how she cried when she learned that she had landed the part of the Thirteenth Doctor.

She said:

“To be a part of that, I’ve said so many times, is really emotional,” she said. “And overwhelming – completely overwhelming.

“You can’t get a job like this and not get knocked sideways by it. You should be!”

Doctor Who returns Christmas Day with Twice Upon a Time while Trust Me continues next Tuesday on BBC One.

  • DonnaWho?

    I don’t often comment on this website but I have kept up with it’s articles since it first came on in early 2016.
    In the three weeks since Jodie Whittaker’s announcement as the upcoming 13th Doctor, some websites I normally read have seen an increased amount of negative commentary. To be frank, it’s put me off going to some websites that are normally a pleasure to read.
    However I understand that everyone has their own view on this issue and everyone has a right to their own view but I feel that Doctor Who is at a point in its existence where it has to change, which it has done since 1966, if it is to continue well into the future. Doctor Who cannot afford to stagnate. It has to every once in a while reinvent itself to continue its existence.
    We have been on a relatively stable path for a long time so I understand this big change can be jarring, however we have been very fortunate in the actors who have played the Doctor so I hope everyone will be open minded enough to at least give Jodie Whittaker a chance to prove herself as all the other Doctors
    have had a chance to prove themselves.

    • bar none but PC

      Thank you DonnaWho?. With comments like this, you should speak up more often. (besides, I always enjoy your Abbey Road Daleks).
      I too have just deleted a bookmarked page as its’ comments sections have become defensive, nasty and unpleasant. Even those who profoundly disagree here do attempt to keep it civil and with a sense of humour.

      Much as I’d love to keep the Magnificent Mr Capaldi forever, I agree that other changes are needed – and not a moment too soon. I will remain optimistic until proved otherwise!

      • DonnaWho?

        Thank you too.

      • DonnaM

        Doing my bit toward being positive, I find myself thinking that perhaps this is the easiest time for me to take the gender swap. After all, how could another actor follow the imperious Mr Capaldi? Maybe an actress will be sufficiently different that she won’t suffer quite as badly by comparison?

        After all, Peter Davison is a super actor but following Baker Major may be a contributing factor to my personally not entirely *getting* the Fifth Doctor.

    • Jason Z

      Yes, quite, agreed. And this sort of comment is needed more now that Dr Moo has sadly left DWC (if you are reading this still: come back Dr Moo!). You are only referring to lead actor changes, I think, when you mention 1966, but in fact change in Doctor Who begins even before that…a story where the First Doctor is the hero, such as (most notably, to my mind) The War Machines, could not have taken place in the first season in 1963-4.

    • Philip

      Hey DonnaWho. I do wish you’d comment more – you’ve always something nice and interesting to say. To be honest, I don’t really understand how a site can be so negative; I mean, I understand that many are, but I don’t get *why* they are. After all, if you’ve got lots of different people writing for it, they’re all gonna have different opinions. I’ve admittedly been pretty negative about this, but then again, Mez, the Reviews Editor, is very much for a female Doctor. We need that balance. All sites do, I think.

      • DonnaWho?

        Thank you for your comment. I will admit that I was a bit hesitant to post my long comment earlier but felt I really had to say something because I would like to see Jodie Whittaker be given a fair chance to show what she can do before she is judged.

    • FrancoPabloDiablo

      What I see as being the main problem is that anyone who is not overjoyed by this casting is swiftly labelled a bigot, dinosuar, sexist etc… Jeez, even the legend that is Peter Davison had to get off twitter because of a remark he made which a vocal minority didn’t like – despite the comment being very respectable in it’s content. The militants and trolls that are doing the name-calling have no reason to in the first place – they have what they wanted. They just enjoy the upset that those who don’t agree with them are feeling and despite the casting STILL won’t be sympathetic to other’s opinions or thoughts. And Doctor Who has thrived on change, but in my opinion this is taking it too far. No need for it. Fish has even come out openly and said he always intended to cast a woman so there goes the old “best person for the job” excuse. The HERteenth Doctor’s first episode or two will get huge ratings because of this stunt casting then I’m convinced it will drop dramatically. The PC novelty will wear off pretty quickly. I still think it is more “progressive” to create original female characters.

      • daft

        Certainly some renewed optimism is needed in some parts and most people will get on board by the transmission date, but I wouldn’t think for a moment that certain parts of fandom won’t be intensely spiteful and doing whatever comment-wise to bring it down. By the same token, everyone else calling for the ‘Dunkirk spirit’ and being universally positive about things isn’t going to reap the perceived benefits, either. It could be that Round 2 of all this could be no one is critical about S11 or Chibnall’s contribution to NuHu, with trench-lines forming in fandom for and against and a ‘proxy-war’ continues on, further embarrassing fandom and harming the chances of the show being renewed down the track. Clearly Donna is advocating the first, which she’s duly commended for, but let’s not it slide into the latter. Hopefully, it will all blow over like the interminable NuHu Isn’t Real Who and RTD Vs Moffat debates of the past.

        • DonnaM

          There’s going to be a turf war whatever the calibre of the first episode (actually, it’ll start with the first minute). Some people will proclaim Whittaker the greatest of all the Doctors because she’s a woman. others will decry her as the all-time low for the same reason.
          I simply hope both entrenched positions will tolerate the fact that there’s always going to be a middle ground!

          • daft

            I would like to think the best of it all, but I just can’t see it (at this stage). Having seen the easy (old) jokes being made on the Mash Report and Dead Ringers about male fandom and seen some of the commentary in the less salubrious parts of the internet (god knows why anyone would post there), you just know individuals IRL who just won’t let that go. I think the real shame is that Chibnall’s reign is already intensely politicized before Jodie has had a chance to utter her first line. I’d imagine Jodie will be spared the intensity of criticism, it wouldn’t be seen as *gallant* after all (depack that if you will), they’ll unload on Chibnall with a ferocity that will put all prior NuHu vitriol to shame. I’m half tempted to do a mock seance review of the 1st episode getting in touch with Pip and Jane Baker, to give them a proper right of reply. 😀

          • DonnaM

            On the other hand he’ll be buffered by a proportion of the audience that’ll support him regardless because he cast a woman, I imagine (and none of the mainstream reviewers will dare utter a critical peep against either for fear of the backlash). My suspicion is that any criticism, however moderate and wherever it’s directed, will be taken as a slight against Whittaker’s contribution. It’s entirely possible to appreciate someone’s technical skill but not *feel* them as The Doctor; complaints about narrative aren’t the same as objections to the leading player (I’m even finding ways to dodge saying actress now!) but I’m not confident either of the vocal minorities at the ends of the opinion spectrum will agree with that 🙂
            It’s a shame his reign is already guaranteed to be divisive but it would have been, most likely, either way. In a world where Steven Moffat has to answer questions about supposed “misogyny” because he *didn’t* cast a female Doctor there’s not much hope of reasoned debate!

          • The Lazy Womble

            Pip might be a bit surprised if you do. Isn’t he still alive? 😉

          • daft

            LOL! Well, I knew one of them had died, I’d just assumed they were aged back when, so the odds weren’t good. 🙂

    • DonnaM

      Being an inveterate cynic I’m sorry to say I see this big change as a cheap and cynical attention grab, but doubtless it will encourage some people to give a chance to a show they wouldn’t have given the time of day before. How many of them will stay with curiosity satisfied remains to be seen.

      I’m determined to be open minded, but I will also be honest. If my doubts are allayed I’ll give credit: if my concerns are confirmed, I’m afraid I’ll reserve the right to be negative.

  • DonnaM

    Nice words, and it’s good to hear her being so positive. In my experience the fan base is fantastically devoted, but will inevitably be divided.

    Ask us all to identify what “The Doctor ” should be and how we see the character and you’re likely to get more different answers than there have been Doctors. That’s great – it’s why the show has survived so long.

    I’m not inspired by this particular casting, but then it’s exceptionally rare for me to be enthused: more often than not, I can’t *see* the newcomer as the character until they’re in costume or in action. Sometimes – infrequent, but it happens – incarnations never do connect with me.

    I’ll give Whittaker the same chance as all her predecessors. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, it’s probably as much the writer’s doing as the actor’s.

  • daft

    So how different is the series going to be with a female lead? I think some fear it’s going to become Bridget Jones In Space. I’d actually rather enjoy that, but I’m sure Chibnall hasn’t go that in mind. If you are choosing Whittaker it’s because she can bring a brittle intensity and amiability to the material. I’d suspect the NuHu obsession with Buffyesque post-modern quips will be rightly put in the dumper after 10 solid years. It will be more drama-based and less comedic, Jodie’s CV is dominated by the former. I’d imagine it will be more episodic under Chibnall, as he’s had his success with Broadchurch with that format. He’s talked about the virtues of a Writer’s Room approach to scripting, whether he has time to embed that for his first series only time will tell. S11 will likely be tentative rather than ‘bold’, as promised by Chibnall, even Moffat’s S5 was relatively straight forward, even ‘clever boys’ have to walk before you run. It will be in the thrawl of the Classic era given he’s a lifelong fan (and critic). I’d imagine from his age *his* Who will be a combination of Baker/Davison. In terms of characterization from Jodie’s strengths as an actor we’ll get closer to Davison/Troughton/Smith than the Baker end of the spectrum. I’d suggest it will be a flip of a coin as to the sex of the companion given that the ‘action man’ companion role in Who from year dot has proven so problematic. It’s possible to write a regular Joe male companion role that doesn’t notionally ‘lose power’ in comparison to the dominant Doctor role, but it’s just easier to cast a female and not have that *perceived* problem. Lastly, given that the Doctor has basically been sexless from year dot, it would seem odd that just because he changes sexes, it will become a central driver of personality and storylines, there’s a universe out there each week to save to warrant such introspection. Yes, it is a shame to see a non-violent (kinda) male lead role disappear from the screen, but a non-violent (kinda) female lead role is just as welcome, not everyone has to be Buffy or Ripley in sci-fi. So yeah, realistically the show changes very little, substantially less than Classic to NuHu.

    • DonnaM

      “Bridget Jones in Space?” Ye Gods, where’s the nearest roof to throw myself off 🙂
      Seriously, I’m not expecting that at all, but you’ve nailed one of my principal concerns, daft (fantastic choice of name, by the way) when you say it would be “easier” to cast a female companion.
      We’re not, as often pointed out, living in the 1960s any more. A regular male companion wouldn’t need to be the muscle any more than modern females in the role have been ankle-twisting screaming damsels. What better message to send to the young boys watching than that a human man can have guts, gumption, good sense and generosity of spirit without recourse to aggression? What better antidote to those who fear the loss of a positive male role model than to create them a new one of our own species?
      It may not be easy, but to me it would be the *right* course to follow.
      I’ve not seen a great deal of Whittaker’s work beside Broadchurch, in which she was excellent. A dramatic base is no bad thing (Capaldi may have been best known for comedy when he got the role, but he has a serious dramatic background too – and the last few eps of The Thick Of It were a drama masterclass on his part too). However I maintain the Doctor needs a light comic touch, and I hope that won’t be overlooked.
      Lastly – the Doctor in female form does actually offer some challenging and worthwhile historical plot threads. Imagine her in a society/time period which treats its females as chattels! However it would take a skilled touch in the scripting department to make it work.

      • daft

        It’s certainly going to be more interesting to see what they do with the companion, it’s kind of a given that the Doctor will be the *Doctor* in some fashion, more likely to a Troughton-style Doctor that’s happy to blend into the scenery when not required, I’d imagine. One doesn’t really see Jodie resorting to bluster like Sixie or ecstatic boyish enthusiasm like Tennant. Realistically, they’d go down the Mulder & Scully (Broadchurch) route of having co-leads of the same status, but as history shows, two timelords inevitably fight for screen time and story significance. I think they’d go for male companion as *physical* but inevitably that means lesser writers resort to aggressive and slightly thick, and that’s something that would definitely aggravate those missing their male lead. They might just go for another physical clown like Lucas, that way Whittaker can concentrate on the plot and speechifying whilst the male companion embroiders the scene with humour.

        • DonnaM

          I adore Troughton’s Doctor – he had the steel to cut through his impishness and that mile-wide mercurial streak that screams “The Doctor” to me.
          Looking at recent male “companion” figures, well – it’s not promising, is it? Both Mickey and Rory started off as pitiful wet souls clutching at the hands of the cleverer, braver, more capable female companion figure. Okay both grew out of it (and I actually did quite like Rory most of the time) but it’s not promising. No woman with a bit of confidence in herself would be put out by the presence of a man with some of the same, surely?
          I loved Nardole in the most recent series (another surprise, I groaned when Lucas was announced as a regular) but his funniest moments for me came as a foil for the Doctor – both Lucas and Capaldi have such pinpoint timing – but if there’s a male companion who can’t hold his ground with more than physical clownishness, I’m going to be pretty darn peeved.
          You’ve got me worried about Whittaker though – are you thinking light comedy won’t be her thing at all? As I say I’ve not seen much of her work so can’t form an opinion, but the Doctor’s wit and (occasional) childish moments are traits I would hate to see jettisoned, however grand the speechifying!

          • daft

            It’s probably hard to judge how a NuHu male companion will be from past efforts, as both Mickey and Rory filled the companion’s companion slot, it’s awfully hard to service two leads, no matter three. Lucas is probably a better idea of how it might work given as he was given a tenuous hold over the Doctor this season but got to goon around with Bill in Story B from time to time, I thought the shifting between the two was actually quite effective, and probably Lucas deserves the credit it for it acting wise. In terms of Whittaker and comedy, I’ve seen quite a deal of her work over the years and couldn’t recall a comedic role, and quick glance of her CV doesn’t reveal any notable exceptions. It could be that she’s kept it under a bushel or she’s a quick learner, but the bet is they’ll let her grow into that role slowly – there’s also the issue that they won’t want her to be seen as too frivolous, they’ll feel she needs to be seen as having a certain kind of gravity. I’d imagine they’ll be an awful lot of such hand-wringing taking place organizing the structure of the 1st season, likely stifling proceedings somewhat.

          • The Lazy Womble

            Whittaker was Beverly the receptionist in the two Trinians films, and can handle comedy. That said, I hope she doesn’t play the Doctor too much like that. Maybe that’s what she meant when she referred to playing the Doctor “as a girl”.