Who is Jodie Whittaker?

From Broadchurch to Black Mirror, this versatile actor has had a glittering career before regenerating into the Thirteenth Doctor

Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor in Doctor Who series 11 (BBC, HF)

Hailing from Huddersfield (or Hoodezfield, if you’re American), Jodie Whittaker is in a galaxy far, far away from West Yorkshire now.

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The actor, born in 1982, has seen her career take a stratospheric turn after she took the sonic screwdriver baton from Peter Capaldi, regenerating as the show’s Thirteenth Doctor and the first woman to ever play the iconic role.

Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who: The Woman who fell to Earth (BBC, HF)
Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who: The Woman who fell to Earth (BBC, HF)

When it was first announced she had landed the coveted titular role she explained, “This is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.”

However, any ‘fears’ fans had over a woman playing the Doctor soon evaporated, with the new series fronted by Whittaker drawing a record-breaking 8.2 million.

But what else has Whittaker starred in before she became The Doctor? Here’s everything you need you need to know.

What TV shows and films has Jodie Whittaker been in?

After graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2005 (and landing the highest accolade in the process, the Acting Gold Medal), Whittaker took her first stage job at Shakespeare’s Globe in Aleksandr Ostrovsky’s The Storm, before landing her first film role in 2006 opposite Pete O’Toole in Venus.

The film saw Whittaker play flighty yet flirty Jessie, who strikes up an unconventional bond with O’Toole’s Maurice – who finds himself increasingly attracted to her.

Speaking about landing the role, a then 24-year-old Whittaker explained, “I thought this was something I could only dream of being a part of. And just to work with Peter…you’re working with someone who has experience oozing out of every pore without being in any way patronising. It was an amazing project to be part of.”

The role saw her nominated for four awards and put Whittaker firmly in the sights of directors and producers, and secured Whittaker a steady stream of work as a jobbing actor.

Following on from her role in Venus, Whittaker then starred as the hapless Beverly in the St Trinians films alongside Gemma Arterton and Russell Brand.

She also played the highly skittish Tilly in the film adaptation of David Nicholl’s One Day in 2011, the best friend to Anne Hathaway’s beautiful yet bookish Emma Morley. Whittaker described getting into character in the role as donning “a curly red Molly Ringwald wig.”

Arguably, Whittaker’s breakout film role was as Samantha in 2011 sci-fi comedy Attack the Block, opposite Star Wars star John Boyega.

Who did Jodie play in Tess of the D’Urbervilles?

Whittaker assumed the role of Tess Durbeyville’s (again, played by familiar face Gemma Arterton) best friend Izzy Huet in the 2008 David Nichols adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

It’s not the first bodice-based drama Whittaker starred in at the beginnings of her career, rocking up as the beguiling Peggy Bell in mini-series Return to Cranford in 2009.

What was Jodie Whittaker’s role in the Accused?

In Jimmy McGovern’s hugely powerful BBC One anthology series Accused, Whittaker starred alongside Andy Serkis in 2009’s harrowing ‘Liam’s Story’, which saw Serkis, who played Liam, develop an obsession with Emma (played by Whittaker) after he breaks into her house.

Whittaker described the series as “brilliant” and the show picked up an International Emmy award for Best Drama Series.

Was Jodie Whittaker in Black Mirror?

Whittaker starred briefly in the first series of Charlie Brooker’s dystopian anthology Black Mirror back in its first run in 2011.

Black Mirror logo (Netflix, HF)
Black Mirror logo (Netflix, HF)

In ‘The Entire History of You’, which shows an alternative reality where people have ‘grains’ to help them record and playback memories, she plays housewife Ffion who watches her life fall apart when a dinner party goes awry.

Who did Jodie Whittaker play in The Night Watch?

Based on the novel by Sarah Walters – who wrote the highly raunchy Tipping the Velvet – Whittaker played forlorn Viv in the BBC2 drama, which followed a series of women navigating their lives in a pre and post-World War Two era.

Having a steamy relationship with a married man, she said of her character’s various sex scenes, “It’s that lust and that real excitement of being with someone you shouldn’t be. There’s an excitement of young love and an innocence to it, which unfortunately doesn’t last.”

Who did Jodie Whittaker play in Marchlands?

In the first of ITV’s Oaks Trilogy, Whittaker plays grieving mother Ruth Bowen whose eight-year-old daughter Alice drowned six months previously in suspicious circumstances.

Discussing what pushed her into trying out for the difficult role, Whittaker explained, “I was so blown away by how ambitious the piece was. I just thought it was really brave and really different in that sense to anything else I’d read in that time.

“Ruth was unlike anyone I’d played before and it was a scary part to take on – playing a bereaved mother. It’s a huge undertaking. You have to absolutely be respectful in the process and the way you do your work so it doesn’t feel performed.”

Marchland was good preparation for her breakout role in Broadchurch, which Whittaker assumed in 2013…

Was Jodie Whittaker in Broadchurch alongside David Tennant and Olivia Colman?

Her quietly devastating performance as the bereaved Beth Latimer propelled Whittaker as a household-name, as well as introducing her into future Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall.

Broadchurch
Broadchurch

For the uninitiated, Broadchurch follows two detectives trying to crack the murder case of Danny Latimer , an 11-year-old boy who was found dead on a beach in the sleepy seaside town Broadchurch.

Whittaker’s performance as the mother of Danny, which saw her channel Beth’s fury, misery and denial in each breath-taking scene saw her land a nomination from Royal Television Society performance for Best Actress.

“[Playing Beth] was brilliantly difficult,” she said. “You do have to commit to it and throw yourself into it.”

What was Jodie Whittaker’s role in Trust Me?

While she’s now the new captain of the TARDIS, Whittaker’s latest role is not her first attempt at being a doctor.

Jodie Whittaker in Trust Me (BBC, EBG)
Jodie Whittaker in Trust Me (BBC, EBG)

In psychological thriller Trust Me, she plays Sheffield nurse Cath Hardacre who loses her job when she raises concerns about patient neglect. Worried about being unable to support her child, Cath goes on the run to Edinburgh, stealing her best friend Alison Sutton’s identity to apply for a job as an A&E doctor.

The four-part series on BBC One was popular, but after Whittaker assumed the role of the Thirteenth Doctor, the second series is set to feature a whole new cast.

What can we expect from Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor?

As the first woman to ever be cast as the iconic Doctor, Whittaker had some big shoes to fill when she took to the helm of the Tardis last week.

But fans have taken to the star in the titular role, with Whittaker’s performance attracting rave reviews across the board.

But the ever-modest Whittaker thanks Chibnall for creating a script so captivating for fans of all ages to engage with the new-look show.

Doctor Who Series 11 Review
Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole, Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh and Sharon D Clarke in The Woman Who Fell To Earth (BBC, SD)

“I just get goosebumps,” she says when describing the first time she saw the series premiere. “It is epic.
“I’m a new Whovian, and I’m new to this whole world. Doctor Who celebrates change and inclusivity and regeneration, and that has to be for all.

“It can’t just be for people that know it.”

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This article was originally published on 12 October 2018

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