Whittaker, Chibnall on Doctor Who’s 'Overdue' First Female Lead

The new cast and producers of Doctor Who held a short press conference Thursday morning at San Diego's Comic-Con International to discuss the upcoming season and the cultural significance of the first female Doctor. Incoming lead Jodie Whittaker, companions Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill, and executive producers Chris Chibnall and Matt Strevens spoke about the origins of the new costume, the likelihood of a Christmas episode, and how the Doctor’s gender may influence her adventures, as well as introducing the first character details of the Doctor’s "friends."

As one may expect, the first question tackled the significance of Whittaker being cast as the first female Doctor, an experience the actress described as "incredibly liberating." "With this role, and ask any of the previous Doctors anyway, the previous rules are out the window. Because the wonderful thing is, you regenerate. You can bring everything you, you can bring everything from previous."

The press conference returned to the issue of gender several times in its brief 25-minute duration. Asked why the time was right for a female Doctor, Chibnall said, "I think it was possibly overdue, to be honest." "I can only speak to since I’ve been the job and had to make a decision, but to me it felt really simple and obvious. The world was ready, the show was ready, the audience was ready. There were things in the show before that had mentioned it so in terms of canon, there were things you could point to."

"Also," he continued, "there was an amazing list of actresses who could do the part, and we were lucky enough to get the best from that list."

But how such a dramatic change affect how the Doctor is known and received throughout the universe? "The Doctor’s stil the Doctor," Chibnall said. "In some situations there may be gender issues, especially when you’re into history that might come up, but for alien worlds and stuff like that the Doctor’s still the Doctor and they are perfectly capable of walking into a room [and taking charge].

"I’m not sure that’s a gender related issue. Certainly not for the way we’re writing it, certainly not for the way it’s being performed. The Doctor is that character who can walk into a room and, through force of personality, force of charm, force of being amazing, totally bend everybody to their will, solve the problem, make everybody happy, get out alive."

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