Since 1963 there have been 36 seasons of Doctor Who, a movie, specials and 12 Doctors, but when the show returns television history will be made after Jodie Whittaker was announced as the first female Doctor.
The Broadchurch actress was confirmed as Peter Capaldi’s successor, becoming the 13th incarnation of the Doctor, following a build-up which excited fans with a number of names rumoured for the role. From serious suggestions such as Pheobe Waller-Bridge and Kris Marshall to more speculative proposals; Jeremy Corbyn, Ed Miliband and Danny Dyer found their faces mocked up as the Doctor.
But Whittaker emerged as the hot favourite with the bookies as the announcement neared, the BBC unveiling the actress in a one-minute clip, with a hooded figure revealing a key before Whittaker’s appeared from under the hood.
The 35-year-old actress said: “It 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.
“It feels incredible.”
Such was the build-up, the reveal and the fact that Whittaker is the first female Doctor the reaction on social media and in general was strong, with tributes pouring in, including from previous incarnations, for the Huddersfield-born actress who played the mother of murdered Danny Latimer in Broadchurch.
Her co-star in ITV’s hit show Julie Hesmondhalgh tweeted: “Jodie Whittaker is one of the acest, most p*ss funny people I’ve ever worked with. Over the moon!”
Former Doctor’s showed their support, with Colin Baker lauding BBC for “doing the right thing”.
Capaldi said: “Anyone who has seen Jodie Whittaker’s work will know that she is a wonderful actress of great individuality and charm.
“She has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She’s going to be a fantastic Doctor.”
Actor Barnaby Edwards, who has appeared as a Dalek in the show, expressed his excitement of working with Whittaker in an unusual way.
He posted on Twitter: “Jodie Whittaker. Excellent! She’s a wonderful actress. I look forward to exterminating her.”
The issue of gender was the main talking point surrounding the confirmation with many people taking to social media to announce that they would no longer be watching the show with Baker saying it was “very sad” that viewers have come to that conclusion.
The actress, however, will be welcomed by a familiar face in Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall - taking over from Steven Moffat as executive producer - who was keen for the next Doctor to be a female.
“I always knew I wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman, and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice. 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. The 13th Doctor is on her way.”
The fans behind Doctor Who Online, which boasts more than 35,000 daily visitors, said they were “genuinely appalled at some of the comments” made in reference to Whittaker being cast.
They added: “Whether you agree or disagree with the BBC’s decision, there is no place for hate speech.”
Will Howells, a contributor to the Doctor Who magazine, said “what the character does is more important than what their gender is” and that it is “very silly to get angry about a TV show”.
He said: “I think it’s really cool. It will divide fandom. I think, you know, there were a lot of people who didn’t want it, didn’t want a female Doctor. But I think the most important thing is you have a really good actor playing the Doctor.
“I think it actually gives the show lots of new potential, lots of different dynamics we haven’t seen before.”
A Tweet posted by @RSTStatusReport summed up many peoples’ feelings on the matter: “If you think The Doctor changing gender is unrealistic I have some bad news about aliens, time travel and regeneration.”
While @AdamTheBlampied joked: “Jodie Whittaker should have plenty of time to prepare for the role with all the awful cyber men she’ll now be battling.”