Though Doctor Who fans often have strong opinions about breaking with established canon and whatnot, the truth is that the show has been running for so long – it turned 56 years old last November – that a lot of the “rules” just don’t add up. Honestly, it’s tough enough for a hardcore Whovian to get their head around it, let alone the latest actor to inhabit the role of the Doctor. So you can’t blame Jodie Whittaker for admitting that she got stressed out when trying to get on top of her Who homework upon taking the job.
Speaking with another Doctor on David Tennant Does A Podcast With…, Whittaker revealed that she wanted to get to grips with the character when signing up to star in season 11, but quickly found that Doctor Who continuity doesn’t make a lick of sense.
“[I thought], ‘I need to read this’. And there’s so much there – I need to read the history of it and the tropes and the rules and all that, which all contradict!”
Immediately, Whittaker had the job of comprehending how she could be playing the Thirteenth Doctor but more than twelve actors had portrayed the Time Lord before her – including the unnumbered War Doctor and a recast First Doctor.
“And I’m like, ‘I thought I was auditioning for 13, but now there’s like John Hurt and now there’s David Bradley – does he count? – and I got so stressed. I was like, ‘What does this mean?'”
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It helped, though, that showrunner Chris Chibnall provided the actress with what she calls a “massive Wikipedia” of all of the important facts that she needed to know about the time-traveling TARDIS owner.
“For me, it was reading the stuff. I wanted to read it. I wanted to do my homework,” she said. “And Chibs printed me basically an encyclopedia of kind of the facts. It’s like a massive Wikipedia. It’s like a dissertation. It’s like, ‘This contradicts this, this is a throughline, this could be this but really it’s open’.”
I’m sure fans would love to know exactly what Chibnall included in that fact-file and what he left out. For instance, did he mention the references to the Doctor being half-human from the 1996 TV movie or the complicated nature of Gallifrey’s return in season 9? These are the questions we need answers to!
Although, the most important question is when does Doctor Who season 12 air? Well, it’s currently filming in South Africa and is said to be returning to our screens in “very early 2020,” but an exact date still eludes us. As soon as that changes, though, we’ll be sure to let you know.