The Inverse Interview

"It's Going to be Brilliant": Jodie Whittaker on the Future of Doctor Who

The 13th Doctor couldn’t be more excited about the future — even if she’s a bit jealous.

BBC Studios
The Inverse Interview

Before the Disney+ era, before the 60th anniversary specials, bi-generation, and before Ncuti Gatwa got cast as the first Black actor cast in the lead role, Jodie Whittaker made Doctor Who history. After more than half a century of the Doctor portrayed as a man, she took on the role of the world-weary Time Lord with a newfound sense of childlike wonder and whimsy. “I never get bored of talking about it,” she tells Inverse. “I love it. It's my happiest time.”

Even though she’s moved on to more dramatic roles, including a starring role in the BritBox drama Time, Doctor Who is a part of history she’s honored to be part of, and she’s thrilled to see it on an even bigger and better scale.

Whittaker passed the baton in the 2022 special “The Power of the Doctor,” where her iteration of the Doctor was mortally wounded by the Master. She began regenerating, but instead of morphing into Ncuti Gatwa, the next Doctor was played by David Tennant, who played the 10th Doctor from 2005-2010.

Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor shocked the Doctor Who fandom by regenerating into David Tennant instead of Ncuti Gatwa.

BBC Studios

That led to the 60th anniversary specials, which for Whittaker were a celebration of everything that made Doctor Who great. “When ‘Spice Up Your Life’ started playing, I just was like, ‘Are you fucking kidding me? I can't believe I'm not in that scene,’” she said. “But that's the thing. It’s never boring, is it? And it's never repetitive.”

In the last special, Gatwa’s Doctor was finally introduced in an unprecedented way: instead of regenerating from one Doctor into another, the 14th Doctor split into two. “I just thought the re-gen was incredible. I loved the pulling of the arms,” Whittaker said of the historic reveal. “That whole moment of flipping form on its head, but being the truest form for this show.”

But with Doctor Who’s long history, not all fans were thrilled with the change to the norm, something Whittaker is intimately familiar with. “Doctor Who is always controversial for someone,” she said. “I very much remember [fans saying] ‘no bras in the TARDIS’ when I was announced.” But just as everyone came around to a female Doctor, the same is happening with two co-existing Doctors. “Doctor Who is there to take you in all different directions and to not repeat. Doctor Who is a permanent homage to what it's always been and what it'll always be.”

The 14th Doctor (David Tennant) and the 15th Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) during their “bi-generation.”


This new phase of Doctor Who is definitely an homage to what the show has been — Russell T Davies, the showrunner who initially rebooted the series in 2005, is now helming Season 14, referred to as Season 1 on Disney+. “He’s the safest of hands, Russell,” Whittaker says. “Of course he's going to take it to the next level.”

Whittaker is moving to a new phase of her own, from playing one of the most extraordinary beings in the galaxy to one of the most ordinary. In Time, a prison drama, she plays Orla, a single mother who finds herself in trouble with the law and swept up in the British legal system. “She’s someone whose life is instantly decimated in one moment but is then trapped in a claustrophobia and inability to contact anyone,” Whittaker says. Unlike the Doctor, Orla doesn’t have the same heroic levels of scheming. “It's interesting to play someone who's in a slightly permanent flight or fight cortisol level.”

Jodie Whittaker with her Time costars Bella Ramsey and Tamara Lawrance.

Dave Benett/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

But even though her latest roles have been more gritty, Whittaker is very game to return to the world of sci-fi. In 2011, she starred in Attack the Block, a cult classic alien invasion movie alongside fellow future sci-fi star John Boyega. A sequel was officially confirmed back in 2021, and Whittaker is raring to go and return to the genre space.

“I love Attack The Block so much, hopefully they'll let me just be like an SA in the background wandering around the back set,” she said. “I love sci-fi or any kind of genre, but particularly, I love dystopian, I love anything set in space in a less sci-fi or fantasy world.”

Even though her time in the TARDIS is now over, Doctor Who will always be her “happiest time,” and she’s excited that happiness can now be shared with Ncuti Gatwa as the 15th Doctor. “I didn't need to see him be the Doctor to know he was going to smash it,” she says. “I love his opening costume and the transition of who his Doctor is.”

To Whittaker, the Doctor is a dream role because just as they keep regenerating, they also keep evolving. “You're not done becoming the Doctor, there are going to be so many iterations and peppered moments that he's going to bring that no one can predict yet in the next however many seasons,” she says, before referencing her first words as the Doctor, “It's going to be brilliant.”

Doctor Who is now streaming on Disney+ and Time is now streaming on BritBox.

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