Jodie Whittaker was originally up for a Doctor Who part in Matt Smith’s first series

The Thirteenth Doctor could have made a much earlier entry to the Whoniverse…

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Doctor Who history is full of intriguing “what-if” castings, from big-name stars who ALMOST starred as the Doctor (we’re looking at you, Hugh Grant and Chiwetel Ejiofor) to Doctor Who icons who were once in the frame to play other Whoniverse characters (for example, Jenna Coleman was once up for the role of a pre-regeneration River Song).

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And it’s now been revealed that eagerly-anticipated new Doctor Jodie Whittaker is a firm member of the latter camp, with the 36-year-old actor – who makes her proper series debut as the first female incarnation of the Doctor next month – letting slip that she almost became a citizen of the Whoniverse eight years earlier.

Specifically, Whittaker told the Times Magazine (in a conversation independently verified by RadioTimes.com) that she was up for a role in Doctor Who during Matt Smith’s first series as the Eleventh Doctor, and while she can’t actually remember what the part was she didn’t manage to land it at the time.

However, her ambition to be a part of the series never went away – especially when her old friend Chris Chibnall was made the new series showrunner.

“Can I come? Can I be an alien? Can I play a baddie?” Whittaker recalled herself asking in the new interview, only to be surprised by Chibnall’s even bigger idea for the series.

“He was like ‘It’s funny you bring it up, because actually I wanted to talk to you about whether you would consider auditioning for the Doctor.’”

In the end, then, it’s probably for the best that Whittaker didn’t get the part in 2010 – though we can’t help but wonder which role she was up for.

Could she have had Olivia Colman’s part in the opening episode, getting her teeth into a dastardly alien with gusto? The vampire queen played by Helen McCrory? The down-to-earth Sophie (Daisy Haggard) who found love with James Corden’s Craig? Or perhaps she could have even had a pre-Broadchurch team up with Chris Chibnall to appear in his two-part episode The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood?

For now, this particular what-if story remains a bit of a mystery, but fingers crossed we’ll get the chance to find out the truth soon enough.

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Doctor Who returns to BBC1 on Sunday 7th October