'Doctor Who': Jodie Whittaker won't watch classic episodes until she quits the role (exclusive)

Paul Kirkley
Contributor
Jodie Whittaker, the 13th Doctor, shares her plan for a massive Doctor Who marathon, once she’s finished in the role (BBC)

Jodie Whittaker hasn’t even materialised as the 13th Doctor yet, but she’s already planning a classic Doctor Who DVD marathon when the time comes to hand over the TARDIS key.

“I’m a new Whovian,” the actor told Yahoo Movies at the new series press launch in Sheffield on Monday.

“But the wonder of it is, when you fall in love with the show like I have, you’ve then got a 55-year history to go back on. You’ve got box set after box set!”

However, Whittaker – the show’s first female Doctor, who makes her TV debut on 7 October – won’t be getting stuck into the adventures of predecessors like William Hartnell, Tom Baker and her Broadchurch co-star David Tennant just yet.

“I wanted to read my research, not watch it,” said the 36-year-old of her preparation for the role, adding that she didn’t want to feel “bound in” by too much knowledge of how others had played it.

“You question yourself a lot as an actor, and I never wanted to third eye it and think: Has this been done before? Am I trying to be like someone else, or is this me in the moment?

L-R: Yaz (Mandip Gill), Graham (Bradley Walsh), The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Ryan (Tosin Cole). (BBC/BBC Studios/Giles Kyte)

“The joy of a role like this is in making it your own. It has elements that continue throughout the whole of time and space, but what’s brilliant is the lack of walls around it. You’re trusted that your instinct is right for the moment. That’s why it’s a role that so many people would love to play, and why so many people that have played it have adored it, and only speak passionately about it.

“But when I hand over these shoes, I’m going to watch it from episode one!”

Producers hope the new series will serve as an accessible jumping on point for new viewers, as well as keeping the Time Lord’s millions of devoted fans on side.

“If you think you need an encyclopaedic knowledge before [watching it], you don’t,” Whittaker assured us.

“This is inclusive. It represents the world we live in today, as well as taking you to all these brand new places, and maybe places you’re familiar with but seeing from a different point of view.”

Chris Chibnall (showrunner) and Matt Strevens (executive producer) Doctor Who (Ben Blackall/BBC/BBC Studios)

New showrunner Chris Chibnall, whose opening episode The Woman Who Fell to Earth was shown to journalists at the event, promises 10 weeks of action, adventure and fun. Which is not to say the series – and the Doctor herself – won’t show a darker side.

“I think everybody has their complexities and nuances, and I don’t think you’d want to cross the Doctor,” said Chibnall.

“She has a moral centre, and I think that’s what’s so exciting about her as a heroic character.”

“It’s difficult to say, ‘This is the way the Doctor is’,” offered Whittaker.

“Every single scene, you as an actor, and you as a character, discover something new. It’s never decided. It’s not, “This is how the Doctor reacts in this scenario”. It can change continually, and be fluid. And that’s wonderful.”

L-R: Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill, Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, at the red carpet launch for Doctor Who S11 (BBC/Ben Blackall)

Bradley Walsh, who plays new companion Graham O’Brien, thinks the new series could represent an even bigger step-change than the show’s triumphant 2005 revival.

“It’s a different Doctor Who,” the 58-year-old told Yahoo Movies. “It was a huge change when Chris Eccleston took over – this is that, times 10. This is massive.

“I’ve throughly enjoyed every second of making it. It’s been extraordinary. I didn’t realise how big this show was. I had no idea. To be able to say you’re in Doctor Who… And Jodie just leads from the front. She’s fantastic.”

Also on the red carpet in Sheffield (where the new series is partly set) were Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill, who play the Doctor’s new friends Ryan and Yasmin, and composer Segun Akinola, who has written all the music for the new series.

Doctor Who S11 composer Segun Akinola at the red carpet launch. (BBC/Ben Blackall)

His brief included reinterpreting the iconic Doctor Who theme, for which he has used elements of Delia Derbyshire’s original, classic 1963 arrangement.

“Chris Matt [Strevens, exec producer] and I all wanted to do something that honoured the original,” said Akinola.

“That was a genuine desire we all came up with individually, without even knowing it. So that’s what I’ve tried to do – something that honoured the original, that gave it the respect it deserved, but also tried to do something fresh and exciting with it.

“I really love that whole sound that the BBC Radiophonic Workshop had. Their spirit of experimentation has been really inspiring.”

Doctor Who returns to BBC One on Sunday, 7 October.

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