New ‘Doctor Who’ Jodie Whittaker: Don’t be ‘scared by my gender’

Jodie Whittaker readily admits that keeping the secret that she was to be the new “Doctor Who” was “very nerve-racking.” The actress, best known for playing the mother of a murdered boy in the crime drama “Broadchurch,” understands that long-time fans of the series may have concerns that she will be the first female to take on the iconic role. “I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender. This is a really exciting time, and ‘Doctor Who’ represents everything that’s exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.”

However, she concedes that being a trail blazer “feels completely overwhelming. As a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you’re told you can and can’t be.”

Whittaker was never wary of taking on this challenge but explains, “to be asked to play the ultimate character, to get to play pretend in the truest form: this is why I wanted to be an actor in the first place. To be able to play someone who is literally reinvented on screen, with all the freedoms that brings – what an unbelievable opportunity.”

She clearly recalls her initial conversations with “Broadchurch” creator Chris Chibnall, who is taking over as “Doctor Who” showrunner: “There was no persuasion needed. If you need to be persuaded to do this part, you’re not right for this part, and the part isn’t right for you. I also think, for anyone taking this on, you have to want to fight for it, which I certainly had to do. I know there will have been some phenomenal actors who threw their hats in the ring.”

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The actress details the extent to which she had to go to keep her being cast a secret. “I’ve embroiled myself in a whole world of lies.” Indeed, she used a code name to refer to the show. “In my home, and with my agent, it was The Clooney. Because to me and my husband, George is an iconic guy. And we thought, what’s a really famous iconic name? It was just fitting.”

She acknowledges the responsibility of being part of a show that dates back to 1963. “I’m most excited about becoming part of a family I didn’t even know existed. I was born in 1982 – it’s been around longer than me, and it’s a family I couldn’t ever have dreamed I’d be part of.”

Whittaker has connections with many of the previous cast. “I’m mates with a companion [Arthur Darvill], I’m mates with a trio of Doctors. I know Matt Smith, Chris Eccleston and obviously David Tennant. Oh! And let’s throw in David Bradley! Four Doctors! So I’m hoping I get some calls of advice.”

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