Doctor Who used false names and a fake Scandinavian movie to hide Jodie Whittaker’s casting

The BBC sci-fi series went to extreme lengths to hide the new Thirteenth Doctor

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The last few weeks have been exciting times for fans of Doctor Who, with the BBC sci-fi series unveiling all sorts of new details, images and footage of Jodie Whittaker’s first series after months of near-absolute secrecy.

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However, just over a year ago the Doctor Who team were still desperately hoping to keep viewers in the dark about the identity of the new Thirteenth Doctor, going to some extreme lengths to keep Jodie Whittaker’s identity a secret even as they filmed her reveal footage (due to unveil her during the 2017 Wimbledon Men’s Final).

“Somewhere on a train, Jodie Whittaker is making her way towards us, having told people she’s off to make a low budget Scandinavian film this weekend,” new Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall recalls of the secretive shoot, which had just nine people working on it and had to dodge media attention and a local wedding reception to keep Whittaker under wraps, in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine.

“In my mind I’m thinking: are we really doing this? A secret shoot, with only nine people involved? Will this work? Can we reveal the new Doctor this way? Are the BBC really going to put it out during the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final? Is it crazy? Will people even watch or notice? (Turns out, the answer to all those questions is yes).”

Later, he adds: “Recce done, we hole up in a hotel. Some of us are checked in under fake names, I can’t work out whether that’s for security, or because we’re all enjoying the cloak and dagger. When I go to check in, I forget my fake name. I’m not very good at this.”

Other problems included a bike race en route to the set and the risk of hungover wedding guests spotting Whittaker in costume – but after smuggling Whittaker into a car, hood up “like she’s cosplaying the Matrix” and actually managing to film her reveal scene, Chibnall still had one important job to do…

“The week rolls towards the Wimbledon final,” he writes. “Calls are made.

“Who needs to know the identity of the new Doctor before the rest of the world? Most importantly, Peter Capaldi. We set a time, I call him…”

To find out exactly what happened next, well, we’ll have to wait to read the whole article – but it’s definitely clear that when it comes to secrecy, this new team aren’t messing around.

DWM 528 cover
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The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine is on sale from Thursday 26th July