Before the Powers That Be were ready to unveil Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, the BBC had its staffers convinced that the next Time Lord was male.
As part of its all-encompassing plan to keep Whittaker’s Doctor Who casting a secret, the British broadcaster told members of the show’s production team – specifically those involved in the rendering of Peter Capaldi’s regeneration – that Doctor number 13 was a male actor in order to throw everyone “off the scent.”
Louise Hastings, a visual effects producer at Milk VFX, recalled the BBC’s smoke-and-mirrors strategy in a recent interview with RadioTimes:
We were kept in the dark when it came to the reveal of who the new Doctor was. We found out it would be Jodie the same time as everybody else, watching the Wimbledon final. The BBC actually had us quote her first scene before we knew it was gonna be Jodie, via storyboards. And the storyboards had been drawn with a man as the Doctor, so that was a bit of a surprise!
I was looking through a list of the favorites to be the Doctor and comparing them to the pictures, but I was wrong, I couldn’t figure it out. They threw us off the scent.
As for creating what is arguably one of the most important scenes in Doctor Who history, Hastings outlined the time-sensitive pressures involved in Peter Capaldi’s regeneration, all the while confirming that Milk VFX will hand over the baton to visual effects firm Double Negative (Blade Runner 2049) for the new run.
They were one of the last shots to be finished. I think that’s mainly because they really wanted them to be right, so there was a lot of back-and-forth of notes. And they were shot not with the main unit – the main unit finished, and then I think it was a couple of weeks later they revealed it was Jodie and then literally the next week they went in and shot her scenes. I think it was a day or two.
Season 11 of Doctor Who is expected to grace our screens before the year’s end, at which point Whittaker’s Doctor will be flanked by Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill, and Bradley Walsh.