Jodie Whittaker says she is “quite emotional” following the overwhelming reaction to her debut episode in Doctor Who.
Speaking to Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2’s breakfast show, the new Doctor said that she had been building up to Sunday’s series 11 premiere for 18 months, and the relief in seeing that millions of people had tuned in has had a massive effect on her.
- A new Doctor Who character has become an instant cult figure
- New Doctor Who trailer strands Jodie Whittaker on an alien planet
- Doctor Who casts Mark Addy, Chris Noth and Julie Hesmondhalgh in mysterious new roles
“It’s been really exciting, just because of the whole thing of the show and me finding out I’d got it before anyone else knew,” she said. “There’s been probably an 18 month period building up to it being seen by the fans.”
She added that the thing that has pleased her most from the response is that “from the amount of people that have seen it, it has potentially brought on new fans as well.”
“When you spend nine months grafting on something with the most extraordinary ensemble of cast and crew, and you put all this hard work in, you do really want it to be seen,” she said.
An average of 8.2 million viewers tuned in to the series 11 opener on Sunday night, the biggest turnout for a Doctor Who episode in 10 years (it also drew a bigger audience than both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s debuts), and the reaction from fans and critics has been predominantly positive.
“The good thing about being on a show like Doctor Who is you know it will be seen – but obviously to this extent is quite emotional.”
The actress said she was heartened by the fact that new series showrunner Chris Chibnall appears to have succeeded in bringing in new fans as well as satisfying long-time viewers.
“What we wanted was something that the family could sit down [in front of],” she said.
“To make this piece that is for everyone and is inclusive – because it’s not just for Whovians. It’s to make new Whovians as well.”
While she managed to contain herself on the radio with Chris Evans, she says she wasn’t quite as composed during a fan viewing of the episode at New York Comic Con.
“We had a screening and there were about 5000 people and a panel afterwards of fans watching the show, and I blubbed my eyes out throughout the entire thing! Just because it was such a massive sigh of relief more than anything.”
Doctor Who continues on BBC1 on Sundays