Could Doctor Who be in for another regeneration?
That’s the question many fans will be asking themselves today, with new rumours suggesting that current Doctor Jodie Whittaker is planning to leave the BBC sci-fi series later this year.
According to the Mirror, Whittaker is set to make her grand exit at the end of the currently-filming thirteenth series, at which point a new actor will take on the central role.
It’s currently unknown which (if any) actors could be in the frame to take over from her, and whether showrunner Chris Chibnall would cast another female Doctor as the series lead.
When contacted by RadioTimes.com, the BBC declined to comment on any speculation about Whittaker’s future on the show.
“It’s all very hush-hush but it is known on set that Jodie is leaving and they are gearing up for a regeneration,” a source reportedly told the Mirror.
“Her departure is top secret but at some point over the coming months the arrival of the 14th Doctor will need to be filmed. It’s very exciting.”
Originally unveiled to audiences around the world in 2017, Whittaker became the first female incarnation of the face-changing alien the Doctor when she took over from Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi in festive special Twice Upon a Time.
Not including her debut, Whittaker has appeared in 22 episodes thus far (with eight more confirmed for the next series), and has faced a variety of classic Who monsters including the Cybermen, the Daleks and the Master during her years in the TARDIS.
But are these rumours true? It’s certainly possible. If Whittaker were to leave after four years and three series she’d closely match the reigns of predecessors Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi (who both had similar tenures at the helm) as well as classic Doctors like William Hartnell, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy who all left after a few years.
However, at just 30 episodes she’d technically have the third-lowest amount of screen-time of any Doctor (just ahead of Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston), so it could be that Whittaker would prefer to rack up a few more hours with the sonic screwdriver before she hands it in for good.
Certainly, Whittaker hasn’t seemed too keen to give up the role in recent months.
“To even question an end point [of Doctor Who] would be too upsetting,” she told the Telegraph.
“I had this idea that fame from Doctor Who would be like that Notting Hill image of Rhys Ifans [when he opens the front door to a horde of paparazzi] and it isn’t,” she said. “If you bump into a Whovian, it genuinely makes both of your days.
“There’s something emotional, poetic and very humbling about being in the show, because you’re a tiny little jigsaw piece of something that is so precious to so many people.”
Will 2021 see Jodie Whittaker’s grand goodbye, or are the Thirteenth Doctor’s adventures just beginning? Time, as ever, will tell.
Doctor Who returns to BBC One in late 2021. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide.