There were no spoilers at BBC America’s Hall H Doctor Who panel, but there was plenty of love for the new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker.
If there was still any doubt that fans would accept a female Doctor Who, it was dispelled by the rapturous applause that greeted Whittaker’s first public appearance as TV’s iconic Time Lord.
“I knew obviously being the first female it was going to have some extra responsibility thrown in,” she said. “But it’s incredibly inclusive, and knowing the fans are all over the world, it immediately felt like this huge Whovian family.
“I never approached a role thinking, ‘How would a woman do this?’ I’ve approached it from my perspective. The wonderful thing about the Doctor is I’m playing an alien, so all those details are irrelevant.
“Sometimes within episodes, other people’s response is different because they’re speaking to a woman, and that’s interesting. And that’s why this role will continue to be layered and fascinating to play.”
Whittaker’s debut as the 13th Doctor is just one of many new elements to the series, which returns in the spring of this year. There’s a whole new creative team; showrunner Chris Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens were also part of the panel, alongside new companions Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole.
On casting his Broadchurch star in the iconic role, Chibnall admits there was never any bias. “She just walked into the room and she was the Doctor. It was one of those things where you don’t know what you’re looking for until you see it.”
As to what we can expect to see in this new era of Doctor Who, everyone was remaining tight-lipped. Even the first trailer, which debuted during the panel, gave very little away, with not even a Dalek in sight.
“We love the history of the show, and the show going forward, and we want it to always be a surprise for the fans. So no spoilers,” explained Whittaker.
“I really love television when it’s a communal experience,” added Chibnall, “and the more we can bring Doctor Who unspoiled when we’re ready to go to air, I think it will be really awesome. We have things you don’t want spoiled.”
The newly-designed sonic screwdriver was revealed, however, with Chibnall teasing, “There’s a really specific way the Doctor comes by this screwdriver… and that’s where this sentence ends.”
What he does confirm is very little from the show’s past will show up in Whittaker’s first season. “There’s a lot of new things this year – a new Doctor, new characters, new monsters, new worlds, and new camera angles.”