Doctor Who’s Jodie Whittaker has an inspiring message for female sci-fi fans

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Moya Crockett
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Ahead of her debut as the first female Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker wants to remind women and girls to be the hero of their own story. 

This autumn, Jodie Whittaker will take her position at the helm of the Tardis as the first female Doctor Who. When the news of the actress’s casting was announced in July 2017, it prompted considerable outcry from sexist sci-fi fans (and plenty of unwarranted leering from tabloid newspapers). But in a new interview, the actress highlights how important it is to show that women can be heroes too.

Speaking to the Radio Times, Whittaker says her Doctor will prove to women and girls that being a hero “isn’t just attainable for half of the population. The other half can be the Doctor as well. Girls will no longer just think, ‘Oh, I could be a companion’.

“Being the first female Doctor and showing children that their heroes in shows don’t always look the same is a huge honour for me,” she continues.

Whittaker also points out that Doctor Who has long made icons out of unconventional figures – from Tom Baker’s whimsical and fiery Time Lord to Matt Smith’s world-weary fop.

“There’s the chiselled superhero that we’re used to seeing and we’ve all grown up with,” she observes. “But Doctor Who has never been that, which is wonderful. It’s attainable in so many ways.

Being the first woman to play Doctor Who inevitably has its pressures. But Whittaker says there is something freeing about not having any predecessors to live up to.

“The pressure is less for me because I can only do this my way,” she says. “All the rules are out the window! That’s what makes it so fun.”

mandip gill doctor who dr jodie whittaker companion

Whittaker with Mandip Gill, who will play her companion in series 11 of Doctor Who 

The BBC received multiple complaints about Whittaker’s casting when it was revealed last summer – to the extent that the broadcaster was forced to issue a statement standing by their decision.

“Since the first Doctor regenerated back in 1966, the concept of the Doctor as a constantly evolving being has been central to the programme,” the statement read.

The BBC then cited comments made by Piers Wenger, the controller of BBC Drama: “Jodie is not just a talented actor but she has a bold and brilliant vision for her Doctor. She aced it in her audition both technically and with the powerful female life force she brings to the role. 

“She is destined to be an utterly iconic Doctor.”

Amid discussions about the gender pay gap at the BBC, the broadcaster has also confirmed that Whittaker will be paid the same as predecessor Peter Capaldi for her role as Doctor Who. Capaldi made between £200,000 and £249,000 for his role as the Time Lord in 2016/17.

We can’t wait to see what Whittaker does with the part. To get a sneak preview, watch the just-released teaser trailer for Doctor Who series 11 below. 

Images: Getty Images