I have a confession to make.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Jodie Whittaker about being the new Doctor. It was wonderful. She was wonderful.
And I wish I could share every word with you – it was for you, after all. But I can’t. Because ya girl managed to screw up the recording. And the backup recording.
And I only discovered this a couple of hours ago.
When I realised what had happened I was devastated, embarrassed and angry with myself. Not only as an alleged professional writer, but as a Doctor Who fan. I felt like I had let the team down.
Of course, I’m not the first journalist to mess up the audio from an interview. But this one hurt. I was excited in the lead up to it and had been thinking about it ever since.
I even had the headline ready to go – “I Didn’t Want To Talk About Gender In Doctor Who, But Jodie Whittaker Did”.
In less than a week, Doctor Who will be changed forever by the arrival of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor, the first woman to play the role... officially speaking. The debate about Time Lord gender has been a part of Doctor Who for decades, but before Whittaker, Doctor Who at large has given us a few unusual stories to imagine what a female Doctor would be like.Read more
Let me explain.
In the lead up to the interview, the one thing I didn’t want to ask Whittaker about was being the first female Doctor. From canon, anyway.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m pumped about it. As a lifelong fan who was named after a companion, it’s a dream come true. But I didn’t want to mention it.
Thinking back on it now, I suppose I thought that’s what every interviewer would ask her about. Perhaps she would prefer to talk about what else she was bringing to the role other than her gender. I thought that not making it an issue would normalise it more.
As it turns out, I didn’t have to ask her about it. She proudly brought it up, which reminded me why it’s important to talk about it.
While my recorders may not have captured her words, I’ll never forget the sheer excitement and enthusiasm in her voice when she spoke about what it meant for her to be The Doctor. And how important it is for young girls and boys alike to have women on their screens to look up to.
Doctor Who is for everyone. It always has been. Letting it evolve won’t change that. In fact, the new series has been designed with fans in mind of course, but also new Whovians waiting to happen. If this is your first season of Doctor Who, you’ll still be able to understand what’s going on.
New Doctor. New friends. New TARDIS. New worlds. And apparently, new monsters and new monsters only. This morning we got another great look at the next season of Doctor Who, which is full of all the sorts of things good Doctor Who should be full of. spaceships, explosions, a Time Lord earnestly willing to do the right thing wherever they can, and -- of course -- corridors to run down.Read more
We may have be talking over the phone, thousands of kilometres apart, but I could feel the warmth she exuded when talking not only about the show and her character, but her fellow cast and crew members.
We spoke in particular about Chris Chibnall, who has taken over from Steven Moffat, as the pair had worked together previously on Broadchurch. In addition to being a huge fan of Doctor Who, and having written for the show and its spinoff Torchwood previously, he insisted on a female doctor before signing on for the new season.
He didn’t know that it would be Whittaker, but from the sounds of it she wound up being the ideal choice.
I’ve interviewed a few Doctor Who alumni in my time, and it’s always tempting to ask if they were fans of the show before appearing in it. Given its 55-year run, there’s always a chance.
Once again, I didn’t have to ask. Whittaker happily chatted about how she hadn’t seen much of the show before. And it was surprisingly refreshing. She is coming at the Doctor with from a new perspective and with a kind of childlike wonder that she injects into the performance. While she told me that herself, it’s hard to miss even in the promo videos.
Whittaker even helped design the doctor’s new signature outfit, which blends both retro and modern styles that seems to both pastiche and original simultaneously.
And while I, like many, assumed that the rainbow strip on her t-shirt is a cheeky throwback to Tom Baker’s doctor… it was purely accidental. People are reading into the outfit what they will, and that’s part of the fun.
Whittaker was a novice to the Whoniverse when she began; now she sits in the eye of a cultural storm. The new Doctor spoke excitedly to me about catching up on the previous series, acquainting herself with what has to be the role of a lifetime.
And while Whittaker catches up with her Whovian backlog, I’ll still probably be kicking myself for losing perhaps the best interview I’ve ever had.
Doctor Who is available on Stan.