Since she first appeared at the end of Twice Upon A Time and then properly in The Woman Who Fell to Earth, Jodie Whittaker has made quite the name for herself as the Doctor. And so it’s quite surprising to know that in the early days of filming her first series, she was seriously worried that she’d been doing it wrong.
She recalled this recently when talking to Guy Garvey on Finest Hour on BBC Radio 6 Music:
“When I saw the episode, where Peter [Capaldi]’s Doctor regenerates into myself – we were midway through shooting and that was the first time in a long time that I’d been watching it – I hadn’t watched it to try and give myself that freedom to step on set.”
But new showrunner, Chris Chibnall told her that it’s absolutely fine, standing apart from the incarnation that came before; it is ultimately more freeing for the performer.
In her chat with Garvey, she continued to talk about her time before Doctor Who and how, when she was invited for an audition, she thought she was just having a friendly meet-up with Chibnall over coffee, who she had become close friends with over her time working on Broadchurch.
“When I went for my initial kind of chat – which I didn’t know was a chat – I thought we were meeting up for coffee, because we were mates. Then he tricked me into saying, you know, ‘Would you want to audition for this?’ It was very much an audition; it wasn’t in any way, ‘You will walk in and nail this part.’ It was, ‘Here’s something very epic, see what we can do with that.’”
But she was also quick to add that the beauty of Doctor Who is that whenever another actor takes on the role, the show changes again – it’s not held back or down by what came before, though it still honours it.
I think that, no matter where you stand on the casting of Jodie Whittaker and the other changes that came with this new era of the show, Whittaker has certainly engaged fully with the role. The Radio Times recently ran a poll which saw her Thirteenth Doctor named the second most popular, just behind David Tennant’s Tenth (though I have to admit, while I like her, I don’t think she’d be that high up in my favourite Doctors). She’s forged a new path for the show, introducing new fans, and having taken part in some of the biggest stories from the last few years with both great and not so good revelations.
Not bad for someone who thought they were doing it completely wrong in the beginning!