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By George Chrysostomou.
Federer beat Cilic in convincing fashion. Britain had its eyes glued to BBC 1 waiting for the grand entrance of the 13th incarnation of the Time Lord. A hooded figure mysteriously walks into frame, the key to the iconic blue box materialised into the unknowns hand and to my disappointment…. Phoebe Waller Bridge did not emerge from under the hood.
But, someone just as talented did enter the T.A.R.D.I.S. ready to take over from Peter Capaldi as the mad woman in a box. Jodie Whittaker, known for her roles in the brilliant Attack the Block, the astounding Broadchurch and the dark Black Mirror amongst many others on her increasingly impressive CV, will stand behind the console for the first time in the Christmas special. In all her roles, she has shown strength, humour and versatility. Jodie possesses all of the attributes that one would credit to The Doctor and will likely bring something fresh to the role as her predecessors did before her.
In a BBC statement released immediately after the announcement, new show runner Chris Chibnall claimed that she was always his first choice for the time travelling protagonist of the over 50 year franchise; “Her audition for The Doctor simply blew us all away. Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role.”
Jodie seems like the perfect fit therefore: talented, strong, relatable and passionate about the role, telling the BBC that she was “beyond excited to begin this epic journey.” Of course, for some there was backlash…. For some, 13 was apparently an unlucky number.
A hero for everyone
At the heart of Doctor Who, is a story about the power of love, friendship and kindness. Time and again we return to these themes, whether it was the bond between Rose Tyler and the 10th Doctor, the friendship between the 11th, Amy and Rory Pond, and the mercy the 12th grants Missy. The last series featured the blossoming relationship of Bill and Heather, a relationship that allowed Bill’s character to find love and continue exploring the universe. It’s a deliberate choice for the Doctor to be a role model and hero to all, promoting a message of togetherness in an increasingly divisive world. It does this no matter your sexuality, age, identity and most importantly in this case, gender.
So why is it so important that The Doctor remains a man, when any person no matter their identity is capable of supporting and spreading this message to the millions of viewers who will still endeavour to watch and call the President of the Earth their hero? The answer simply; it isn’t important. What’s important is an actor who embodies the same values and will be a role model especially to new generations. Jodie Whittaker embodies these traits with the charisma and talent to make the next series of Who a much anticipated one. Whether you like it or not, in 30 years time someone will look back and say that the 13th was their Doctor. For especially, the young girls who have seen themselves as companions, assistants, villains and love interests, they’ll be able to finally see their own Doctor.
Jodie’s casting is a historic one not only because of her gender, but also because like every one before her, this is a role which millions will love and cherish. And I for one think it’s brilliant that it’s Whittaker who is taking the key.
Looking to the future
So now all we can do is to wait and anticipate this brand new creative team helming the crown jewel of the BBC. Many questions now arise as to the new direction of the show: Will the T.A.R.D.I.S. console change, will we see a new sonic screwdriver, will Bill return, how will the 12th finally make is exit? And what will be the dynamic of the new assistant/s with this new Doctor and this new personality?
Perhaps Christmas will shed some light on the situation. Until then, anyone doubting the casting of Capaldi’s successor simply needs to re-watch all of Whittaker’s stellar work; you have half a year left so you best get on with it.