Jodie Whittaker has recalled watching Peter Capaldi’s Doctor Who regenerating into her on the BBC One series and panicking that she was “doing it all wrong”.
The Broadchurch star took over from Capaldi as the 13th Doctor in 2017, and made history in the process as the first woman to portray the Time Lord.
Whittaker revealed she was reassured by showrunner Chris Chibnall, who wanted her to bring a “fresh perspective” to the series rather than to emulate what someone else had already done, which was ultimately very “freeing”.
Speaking with Guy Garvey on Finest Hour on BBC Radio 6 Music, Whittaker said, “When I saw the episode, where Peter’s [Capaldi] Doctor regenerates into myself – we were midway through shooting and that was the first time in a long time that I’d been watching it – I hadn’t watched it to try and give myself that freedom to step on set.”
She continued: “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve done it wrong. I’ve done it wrong’ and we were only like six weeks in and I had seven months left. I came in to work I was like, ‘You should have told me, I’ve been doing it wrong!’ They said, ‘No, this is the point,’ like, ‘You know, you aren’t supposed to be doing what someone else did’. But all the energy of the Doctor and all the references and the Whovian kind of pearls are in there. And you then take it and run with it. And actually it’s much more freeing.”
The star also spoke about the audition process with Chibnall – whom she worked with on ITV’s acclaimed crime drama Broadchurch – and revealed she thought they were just meeting up for a friendly catch-up over a coffee.
“It was a real funny one for me because when I started to audition – I know the showrunner really well, because he was the show-unner and creator of Broadchurch – and so when I went for my initial kind of chat – which I didn’t know was a chat – I thought we were meeting up for coffee, because we were mates. Then he tricked me into saying, you know, ‘Would you want to audition for this?’ It was very much an audition, it wasn’t in any way, ‘You will walk in and nail this part.’ It was, ‘Here’s something very epic, see what we can do with that.'”
She added, “He was very clear that he wanted me to come in with a very fresh perspective and to not necessarily sit at the beginning and work through the entire thing, because his vision was that I came in with a new energy for that. So it’s wonderful to discover that actually, a lot of it contradicts, a lot of it maybe has a suggestion in one episode, that this is who the Doctor is and then in another season by another actor, it’s a completely different version. So you are really free in that role.”
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