While it’s been rumoured for months, the final confirmation that Jodie Whittaker is actually, factually, for real this time leaving Doctor Who is finally here, with 2022 set to end her reign after four years and 31 episodes.
Now, the clock is ticking for an important task for showrunner Chris Chibnall and the Doctor Who team – delivering on the true promise of Whittaker’s Doctor, who now has just nine episodes to demonstrate the depths and power of performance fans have been hoping for from her Time Lord.
While Whittaker’s always been winning in the central role, during her tenure the Doctor has often taken a back seat, more of an ensemble player than the heart of the series that bears her name (well, sort of bears her name. Let’s not get into all that right now).
Despite hints in the Timeless Child storyline, after 22 episodes it still feels like we haven’t had her quintessential Doctor moment – but there’s still time to deliver it, and leave the Thirteenth Doctor on a high as the series moves on to the next generation of Time Lords, companions and showrunners.
Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor arguably only truly found his feet in his third and final series, after all, delivering a moving and layered performance that cemented his incarnation as one of the greats. Based on her past roles in projects like Broadchurch, Journeyman and many others, Whittaker is more than capable of doing the same – just as long as the story allows it.
Currently we still don’t know too much about what threats the Doctor will face in her final adventures, what will happen to her TARDIS team (Mandip Gill and John Bishop) or how she’ll end up regenerating in autumn 2022 during a BBC centenary special.
But whatever she has to deal with, I hope it’s enough to draw out the full potential of the Thirteenth Doctor, which feels like it’s only been glimpsed at to date. Even if she has to burn brightly only to fade away, it’s high time that Whittaker’s Doctor took centre stage.