We all know that Jodie Whittaker was the first actress to ever play the Doctor when she signed up to be the latest lead of Doctor Who in 2017, so there was tremendous pressure on her to give the role her all. Here we are in 2020 and Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor has legions of fans, many of whom have come to the show through her, so she can rest assured that she’s doing a good job. But back when the actress was just starting out, she wasn’t so certain.
Whittaker spoke to host Guy Garvey on BBC Radio 6 Music’s Finest Hour recently and admitted that catching a bit of Peter Capaldi’s final episode – at the end of which he regenerates into her – caused her to panic that she was approaching the role all wrong. In fact, she’d deliberately been avoiding watching the series to maintain a fresh perspective on it.
“When I saw the episode, where Peter’s [Capaldi] Doctor regenerates into myself – we were midway through shooting and that was the first time in a long time that I’d been watching it – I hadn’t watched it to try and give myself that freedom to step on set.”
Thankfully, Whittaker was able to allay these fears by being reassured that she was doing the right thing as it’s not like she should have tried to imitate Capaldi’s performance in any way.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve done it wrong. I’ve done it wrong’ and we were only like six weeks in and I had seven months left. I came in to work I was like, ‘You should have told me, I’ve been doing it wrong!’ They said, ‘No, this is the point,’ like, ‘You know, you aren’t supposed to be doing what someone else did’. But all the energy of the Doctor and all the references and the Whovian kind of pearls are in there. And you then take it and run with it. And actually it’s much more freeing.”
It was showrunner Chris Chibnall who encouraged Whittaker not to revisit Doctor Who‘s past so that she could bring “a new energy” to it, with the actress saying:
“He was very clear that he wanted me to come in with a very fresh perspective and to not necessarily sit at the beginning and work through the entire thing, because his vision was that I came in with a new energy for that. So it’s wonderful to discover that actually, a lot of it contradicts, a lot of it maybe has a suggestion in one episode, that this is who the Doctor is and then in another season by another actor, it’s a completely different version. So you are really free in that role.”
Whittaker has played the Doctor for two seasons so far and she’s set to return for a third run as well. David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi all left after three seasons in the role, but it remains to be seen whether Whittaker will follow suit or not. She’ll head back to Doctor Who for winter special “Revolution of the Daleks,” though, and after that, she’ll lend her voice to new video game, The Edge of Reality – which also features Tennant – coming in Spring 2021.