If you thought playing the Doctor in Doctor Who was all fun and games, then think again – because according to current Time Lord Jodie Whittaker, she had quite a lot of homework to do when series boss Chris Chibnall first offered her the iconic role.
“Chibs printed me basically an encyclopaedia of the facts,” Whittaker revealed on the podcast of former Who star David Tennant, where she spent an episode comparing her Doctor Who experiences with his.
“It’s like a massive Wikipedia, a dissertation on it. And it was like ‘this contradicts this…this is a throughline, this could be this, but really it’s open.’”
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“I bet he loved doing all that, didn’t he?” joked Tennant, who also worked closely with Chibnall during his time on ITV’s Broadchurch.
“Gave him an excuse to get his Whovian head on.”
“Yeah I was like, ‘Er, you should really be writing,’” laughed Whittaker.
“He was like ‘it’s alright, I’m doing Jodie’s homework.'”
In the podcast, which you can listen to in its entirety now, Tennant and Whittaker also compared their experiences as male and female incarnations of the same character, with Whittaker reflecting that she was asked things about her performance that her predecessors in the role never would have been.
“It’s a funny one because no-one would ever ask you about bringing your gender to a role,” Whittaker told Tennant.
“And you’re not the first person – I am asked all the time about approaching the role from the woman’s point of view.
“No traits really of the Doctor are gender-specific, I don’t think. I think if any of the traits were said to me I’d go ‘Oh yeah, I’ve felt that. I understand that feeling.’
“It might get a different reaction, but my reaction might be similar to you, and maybe not similar to Matt or whoever, or William [Hartnell].”
“I think I agree, but I didn’t have to [deal with that],” Tennant replied.
“You didn’t have to worry about it,” Whittaker noted.
“I got asked loads of times by randoms like ‘So are you gonna play it as a girl?’ I’m just going to play it.
“For me it was just reading the stuff. I wanted to do my homework.”
So there you go kids – if you do all your reading, one day you might be able to travel through time and space in a phone box too. That’s the moral we’re taking from this, anyway.
Doctor Who returns to BBC1 in 2020