Doctor Who: Whittaker, EPs Reveal S11 Secrets & Quest for Inclusiveness

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains minor spoilers for the premiere episode of Doctor Who’s 11th season.

The Doctor has finally arrived.

On the final day of New York Comic Con, Doctor Who fans were able to watch “The Woman Who Fell to Earth,” the first episode of the new season, as it was simulcast across the globe. The excitement for the new season was palpable in the room, shadowed only by the crowd’s reaction to Jodie Whittaker’s debut as the titular character.

As the Doctor barreled through the roof of a train car, leapt from one towering crane to a neighboring one, and built — from scratch — her own brand new sonic screwdriver, the audience applauded and cheered so loudly that occasionally a line of dialogue was overrun by the sound. But the emotional response wasn’t just from the audience.

“I’m going to cry,” Whittaker said when asked what it was like to watch her first episode with a crowd of 5,000 people.

Showrunner Chris Chibnall felt the same way, saying that it was incredibly special to have experienced premiere in this fashion. “You’ve got an amazing new Doctor,” he told the fans.

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Aside from finally seeing the new Doctor on screen, the audience was also able to meet her new companions: Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), Yasmin “Yaz” Khan (Mandip Gill), and Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh), all of whom Whittaker wished were in New York with her to bring the show to audiences for the first time. She shared what it was like meeting two of them:

“The first time I met Tosin and Mandip was in their recall. Tosin had been away and was like, ‘Who’s this in my audition?’ He just thought they got some random, lucky actor to be the person to read opposite him in the scenes, just so the casting director could concentrate and not have to do the off lines. And afterwards he was like ‘Oh, okay.’ Mandip walked in and told some of her many hundred hilarious stories and I over laughed and the second she walked out, I went ‘that is my new best friend.’”

She noted that working with Brad (or “Showbiz,” as Tosin has taken to calling him) is a privilege, and she’s thrilled to have them all on board with her.

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“I think the thing that’s really apparent is that it’s not fake chemistry. We all really get on, and really love each other,” she added.

For Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens, having three companions from varying backgrounds was part of their hope for inclusiveness on the show. The companions are diverse in other ways as well: it was revealed that Ryan has dyspraxia, or Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD), a condition that affects a person’s gross and fine motor skills. Ryan is shown struggling to ride a bike, and Chibnall noted that they worked with the Dyspraxia Foundation in the UK to make sure the condition was properly represented on screen.

“It was really important to us that those friends represent everyone out there who’s watching,” Strevens said.

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