After the announcement that Peter Capaldi was departing Doctor Who in January, media pundits and newspapers spent months trying to discover the identity of the next Time Lord, to no avail.
But now, of course, we know the new face in the Tardis will be first female Doctor Jodie Whittaker – and the Broadchurch and Trust Me star has finally opened up on the pressure of keeping her Who identity secret for all those months.
“I didn’t know details but I knew there was going to be an attempt at a really brilliant reveal,” Whittaker told Christine Bleakley on ITV’s Lorraine.
“I have got super bad paranoia, so I was like, ‘Did I tell you that? Sorry. Was I supposed to tell you that?’ You know that awful thing of ‘Was I supposed to tell you that?’
“Obviously I’ve had five years of Broadchurch to know, ‘OK, I’m not sure if I told you that, but if I did, don’t tell anyone…’ I also had a massive panic about it as I was a bit like ‘I can’t remember what I was told I’m not allowed to say’…”
Whittaker’s reveal on BBC1
“There was just this thing of, in July this will happen and if we could get it to be this really amazing moment… and also for me I got to live a pretty anonymous life until then,” she added. “So it was within my benefit to have that reveal happen.”
And so Whittaker embarked on a campaign of secrecy, screening calls from new Doctor Who showrunner Chric Chibnall, telling nobody but her husband (actor Christian Contreras) about the job and even keeping discussion of the part down to whispers in her own home.
“I was just lying left right and centre,” she explained.
“Talking to my agent and [showrunner] Chris Chibnall, obviously we were speaking a lot, I’d get so paranoid if my phone was on the table and his name would ping up and I’d be like ‘Well, people won’t associate it with that as people know we’re friends from Broadchurch.’
“You just become a massive narcissist,” she went on. “Like, ‘Everything’s about me… everyone is looking at me all the time.
“I think I was incredibly melodramatic the whole time. I talked like this [in a whisper] in my flat for months.”
Still, in the end the secrets paid off, and fans were truly surprised when Whittaker appeared as the next Doctor under that hood. Probably worth the odd missed call and scratchy throat, right?
ITV’s Lorraine airs on ITV, weekdays 8.30am – 9.25am