Jodie Whittaker: I was told not to watch Doctor Who before my audition

The New Time Lord was advised to come into the part with “fresh eyes”

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

New Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker was told not to watch any episodes of the show before auditioning for the lead role.

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The actress admitted that when she was about to try out for the part of the Time Lord she was worried she didn’t really know the show – only to be told by showrunner Chris Chibnall that this was something of an asset.

“Doctor Who wasn’t something that was on TV in my house when I was growing up, so I thought I’d have to cane it before the first audition and watch every single episode,” Whittaker tells Marie Claire magazine.

“Thankfully, Chris [Chibnall] said, “I don’t want you to. I want you to come in with fresh eyes and bring what you would do in this environment.”

The actress also revealed that not being an “arsehole” on the set of Chibnall’s ITV drama Broadchurch helped land her the part – advice she says all aspiring actresses should heed.

“Broadchurch was a game-changer because I met Chris,” she added. “He wouldn’t necessarily have associated me with the right energy for [Doctor Who] otherwise. It’s a good job I wasn’t an arsehole! That’s the advice I’d give to a young actress; be a good person, have good banter and just appreciate that everyone is working as hard as you. There is no status, so don’t give yourself status you don’t need.”

On being the first woman to take the part she said: “I knew that there would be a huge amount of people it would be a shock for. But this job celebrates change more than any other role – you have a physical regeneration, so casting [a woman] supports that story and doesn’t go against the rules of the show in any way.

“I’m playing a Time Lord who’s essentially an alien and inhabits different bodies and this one is female. The best thing for me though is that, for the first time in my life, I am not playing a stereotypical woman because as much as I approach everything as an actor, I am continually labelled by the female version of that character.

“I recently had someone ask me, ‘Are you playing it [the Doctor] as a girl or a boy?’ I replied, ‘I’m just playing it.’ This is the most freeing role because there are no rules.”

On Wednesday the BBC confirmed the 7th October airdate for the new series – moving it to a Sunday for the first time since its revival in 2005.

“New Doctor, new home!” showrunner Chris Chibnall said of the shift.

“Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is about to burst into Sunday nights – and make the end of the weekend so much more exciting. Get everybody’s homework done, sort out your Monday clothes, then grab some special Sunday night popcorn, and settle down with all of the family for Sunday night adventures across space and time. (Also, move the sofa away from the wall so parents can hide behind it during the scary bits).

“The Thirteenth Doctor is falling from the sky and it’s going to be a blast.”

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The new series of Doctor Who starts on BBC1 on Sunday 7th October