Jodie Whittaker on Doctor Who's place in the age of superheroes: 'It's about brains, not violence' (exclusive)

Tom Butler
Senior Editor

Since Doctor Who made its debut on television in 1963, the science-fiction genere has remained a firm pop culture fixture, even if it’s had its share of ups and downs when it comes to popularity.

In recent years the landscape has been dominated by superheroes, not just at the movies but on TV, in comics, animation, and all forms of media.

So where does a child-friendly show like Doctor Who fit, and what role does it have to play in the current pop culture conversation? It’s all about relatability thinks Jodie Whittaker, the actor returning as the Thirteenth Doctor, in a new series this coming January.

“The thing that Doctor Who as a show represents, and the Doctor represents as the hero, is all of us,” Jodie Whittaker, the Thirteenth Doctor, offers Yahoo.

Read more: Ex-BBC chief on why he cancelled Doctor Who

“The hero can look like anyone, and that group, that family, that gang, [they] look like your mates, your family, and don’t have these outlandish skillsets, or some divine gift.”

Yaz (MANDIP GILL), Ryan (TOSIN COLE), The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER), Graham (BRADLEY WALSH) (BBC / BBC Studios)

The Doctor’s special power has always been her (or his) intellect. Yes, they may be able to regenerate, travel through time and space, and have two hearts, but they don’t have superhuman strength, or invisibility, or the power of flight to rely on to outwit their foes.

In that respect, they’re just as human as you or I, or their companions, Whittaker adds.

“It’s the everyday heroics, chosen through the medium of using your brain before violence, and I think that’s what so special about this. We choose to celebrate thought and love and inclusivity within something. And it’s a medium that I like, the superhero genre I absolutely love, the sci-fi genre I absolutely love.”

“I think weirdly, Doctor Who, is a bit like its own genre, because it’s not quite like anything else.”

Graham (BRADLEY WALSH), The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER), Yaz (MANDIP GILL), Ryan (TOSIN COLE) - (BBC Studios/Alan Clarke)

The new ten-part series will see the Doctor and her friends travelling through time and space, visiting new worlds and eras that we’ve never seen on screen before. It’ll also tackle current issues, like the show has always done.

Read more: Is Mary Poppins a Time Lord?

“It does that every year,” says Tosin Cole, returning as Ryan Sinclair for the twelfth series.

“[Tackling] social commentary and the world, I think you should expect that.”

Doctor Who will return to BBC One on New Year’s Day with Spyfall written by Chris Chibnall, with subsequent episodes airing on Sundays