Fame and celebrity

First woman Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker, wants to be a role model to all

Actress calls her appointment to play time-travelling character in long-running serial ‘a step in the direction of equality’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2018, 3:04pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 3:46am

Jodie Whittaker calls being cast as the first woman to portray Doctor Who “a step in the right direction” when it comes to gender equality in entertainment, but doesn’t feel that she’s broken a glass ceiling because there’s more work to be done.

The latest season of British TV serial Doctor Who debuted in a global telecast on Sunday. Whittaker, who was at New York Comic Con with show runner Chris Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens, talked about the new season and the historic casting decision.

“Do I think the glass ceiling is broken? No. Do I think that this is a positive step in the direction of equality in the representation on film? Yeah. But it’s not broken,” Whittaker said.

The long-running television series chronicles the adventures of an extraterrestrial Time Lord who travels to different time periods and planets to avert disaster and battle evil.

Whittaker is now the 13th person to play the eponymous character, and explained why she hopes to be a role model for everyone, regardless of gender.

“When I was growing up, there was never a question that as a girl you would look up to guys. That’s what you did. Whereas there’s a slight mythology in the sense if you’re a girl, you’re a hero for a girl, which is not the case,” she said.

“And so, I think the wonderful thing about this is being a role model for anyone, which the Doctor has always been regardless of gender.”

While Whittaker was honoured to get the role, she noted that the casting announcement seemed like a bigger deal than it was because “gender becomes immediately irrelevant within the show because the Doctor is the Doctor”.

New Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker hopes fans don’t fear a female Time Lord

The actress calls herself a “New Whovian” who began watching the show after she got the role. What she learned from her binge watching was “how inclusive it is”.

On the floor of Comic Con, fans spoke positively about this Doctor.

Twelve-year old Danielle Nickelson, dressed as DC Comics character Harley Quinn, is glad to see a woman in the role. “I like that they made it a woman, because usually nowadays shows don’t really have girls in them. It’s more like boys, like Spider-Man,” Nickelson said.

In between practising moves from her favourite video game, Street Fighter, long-time fan Lia Vanderlinden had her own take on accepting the new Doctor.

“Essentially, every new Doctor is like getting a stepdad. Originally, you’re like, ‘You’re not my dad, I don’t like you.’ And after a while you go, ‘You’re pretty great, too.’ We can share time.”

She added: “It should be interesting.”