Jodie Whittaker on red carpet

First Female ‘Doctor Who’ Lead Jodie Whittaker: Don’t Be ‘Scared By My Gender’ [Update]

After months of fever-pitched anticipation, British actress Jodie Whittaker was announced as the Thirteenth Doctor in the iconic Doctor Who series moments after the conclusion of the Wimbledon men’s singles final.

Whittaker, 35, is the first woman ever cast as the famous Time Lord. She is best known for playing Beth Latimer in the BBC drama Broadchurch and has also appeared in films such as Attack the Block, Venus and St. Trinian’s. She beat out a long list of other contenders, including Death in Paradise‘s Kris Marshall and Fleabag‘s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

“I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey,” Whittaker said, according to the Daily Mail. “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.”

There has been a fierce online debate about whether Doctor Who fans would accept a female Doctor, but the response on Twitter has been overwhelmingly positive, with many people noting how wonderful it will be for young girls to finally have a Doctor to look up to.

Still, Whittaker tried to calm any potential dissension over her casting in a BBC interview released after the announcement.

“I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender. Because 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. 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. And added to that, to be the first woman in that role.”

Current Doctor Peter Capaldi announced he was leaving Doctor Who in January during an appearance on BBC Radio 2. His final episode as the Twelfth Doctor will air at Christmas, after which Whittaker will take over the role.

Doctor Who first hit BBC in 1963, with William Hartnell playing the inaugural version of the Time Lord. He was followed by Patrick Troughton in 1966, Jon Pertwee in 1970, Tom Baker in 1974, Peter Davison in 1981, Colin Baker in 1984 and Sylvester McCoy in 1987.

McCoy played Doctor Who until the show was canceled in 1989.

Paul McGann was then cast as the Eighth Doctor in an ill-fated 1996 Doctor Who TV film, but the show didn’t regain popularity until it was rebooted in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston in the lead role. He was followed by the very popular David Tennant, who was succeeded by Matt Smith and then Capaldi.

According to Deadline, Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall is taking over Doctor Who showrunning duties from Steven Moffat after the Doctor Who Christmas Special in December.

The Christmas Special will feature an appearance by the First Doctor, who will now be played by David Bradley, because Hartnell passed away in 1975.

Whittaker’s casting was announced live at Wimbledon, where Roger Federer defeated Marin Čilić to win his record 8th Wimbledon title.

What do you think of Jodie Whittaker’s casting as the Thirteenth Doctor in Doctor Who? Do you think she was the right choice? Let us know in the comments below.

[Featured Image by John Phillips/Getty Images]

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