Over the past 54 years, we’ve seen more than a dozen actors helm BBC’s flagship program, Doctor Who. Today, after what seemed like an eternity of men’s tennis at Wimbledon, our newest lead was announced: Jodie Whittaker will be the 13th Doctor and the first woman to take on the role.
BBC revealed its pick with a short but exciting video in which the new Doctor opens her palm to see a TARDIS key materialize while walking through the woods. Soon after, the mysterious figure pulls down their hood to reveal Jodie Whittaker as she heads towards the TARDIS, a smile on her face.
New Doctor predictions began almost immediately after Peter Capaldi announced he would be stepping down last year, and with show runner Steven Moffat also departing, Doctor Who was in a perfect position for major change. New show runner Chris Chibnall tapped one of his Broadchurch leads to step into the new role. This Whovian couldn’t be more pleased.
This isn’t the first time a male Time Lord has regenerated into a woman on the show. Most recently, notorious Doctor Who villain the Master was portrayed by Michelle Gomez as Missy. Her quirky humor and frightful malevolence made for one of the best baddies of the last few seasons. Another female regeneration occurred when the Doctor shot a Gallifreyan general in 2015’s “Hell Bent” and changed both gender and race. Thus, this newest regeneration is canonically like fish sticks and custard—although she’s still not a ginger.
Whittaker, a 35-year-old English actress, has more than three dozen roles on her résumé, but her breakout role came as Beth Latimer in Broadchurch. This fantastic drama from the BBC (which was adapted into the US Gracepoint) centers around the horrific death of a young boy in a touristy beach town. Whittaker plays the boy’s mother, reeling from the tragedy and trying to figure out what happened. Her pick could signal a more dramatic twist to the good Doctor. Broadchurch also stars former Doctor David Tennant, who I’m sure will be able to provide Whittaker with some fantastic advice about piloting the TARDIS.
The regeneration from Capaldi to Whittaker will happen on Doctor Who‘s Christmas episode, which is way, way, way too far from now. In the meantime, you can catch Whittaker on BBC America as the network airs the third and final season of Broadchurch.