The BBC has just announced that Jodie Whittaker will be the latest actor to take on the role of The Doctor on Doctor Who as the Thirteenth Doctor. Whittaker will replace the current Doctor (the 12th in the series’s history), played by Peter Capaldi, in an upcoming Christmas special before taking on the role fully in the upcoming 11th series of the long-running British science fiction show, which is expected to air in late 2018.
In a interview with the BBC, Whittaker commented that, "It's more than an honor to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can't wait."
The first female actor fill the role of the Doctor in the 50-plus year history of the show
The choice of Whittaker is particularly significant given that she is the first female actor fill the role of the Doctor, who has previously been played by a male actor in the character’s various incarnations throughout the 50-plus year history of the show. Doctor Who has already established within the fiction of the show multiple times that Time Lords are able to regenerate as different races and genders, most significantly with the latest version of the traditionally male villain The Master re-characterized as “The Mistress,” played by Michelle Gomez.
Whittaker is best known as starring as Beth Latimar in the ITV crime series Broadchurch. There, she worked with Chris Chibnall (the creator of Broadchurch), who will replace the show’s present showrunner, Steven Moffat, who has helmed the modern iteration of the show since taking over for Russell T Davies in 2010.
For those not familiar with Doctor Who, the show tells the adventures of the titular Doctor as he travels through time and space in the TARDIS (a time machine shaped like a 1920s British police box) fighting monsters, aliens, and generally saving the world and humanity on a regular basis. The Doctor is a Time Lord, an alien species with the ability to “regenerate” into a new physical form when critically wounded, a plot device that was invented back in the original run in the 1960s to allow the show to continue running with a new actor when William Hartnell — who played the First Doctor — chose to leave the show.