The reveal of Doctor Who’s next star in July was quite the event, with viewers from around the world tuning in to the Wimbledon final to discover who would be the next occupant of that iconic blue phonebox – as it turned out, Jodie Whittaker, the first female Doctor.
And among these fans was none other than former series showrunner Russell T Davies, who revived and ran the BBC sci-fi series from 2005-2010 and recently caught up with RadioTimes.com to talk about his return to the franchise with a new book illustration project.
“It was amazing,” Davies said of the initial Jodie Whittaker announcement. “I kind of guessed, I didn’t know, but her name did start hitting the papers that day, and when a name hits the papers like that out of the blue you think ‘Someone, someone’s blabbed, someone somewhere, an agent.
“It’s always a lad in the agent’s office. That’s where every leak comes from – not the agent themselves, but someone doing the photocopying. So I kind of thought someone’s kind of let something slip there by mistake. But joyous, really. What a happy time. And how well-received! How brilliant!”
But of course, not everyone was so happy about the change, with a minority of fans (around 20% according to social media statistics) reacting poorly to Whittaker’s casting and even former fifth Doctor Peter Davison lamenting the “loss of a role model for boys, who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for” (though he also said he thought Whittaker would do a “wonderful job”).
However, Davies waves away any such negative reactions to Whittaker’s casting, telling RadioTimes.com that the “fuss” was only caused by journalists looking for a story – a sentiment he shares with current showrunner Steven Moffat, who previously said there was “no backlash at all” over the announcement.
“The only people making a fuss were, to be honest, journalists, saying ‘what about the fuss?’” Davies insisted. “There wasn’t one. There wasn’t one at all. What a different world we live in – how magical.”
To support his assertion, Davies cited numerous encounters with fans of the series who were supporting Whittaker’s casting, many of whom he has come into contact with while visiting Cardiff (where the series is filmed).
“I’ve been in Cardiff recently, and there’s a lot of fans flocking into Cardiff because they’re about to close the Doctor Who Experience, so a lot of people are going to see it for the last time,” Davies said.
“So a higher number of fans than average walking around the Bay. And they’re very nice, and some of them stop me for autographs and things like that, and every single one of them is excited about it. Every single one.
“And that’s something that doesn’t get said often enough. The five people making a fuss, and the five people making headlines, do not represent the vast body of fandom, who are genuinely happy and genuinely excited. Men, women, kids, all ages – I’ve met them. And they’re properly looking forward to next year.”
Count us among the converted, Russell – and bring on the age of Whittaker!