Question of the week: what do you think of Jodie Whittaker being cast as the 13th Doctor Who?

The end of the programme or the dawn of a new era?

Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who

Unless you’re some kind of ‘sports fan’ (whatever they are) then the big news of yesterday was that actress Jodie Whittaker joins a long line of actors with awkwardly spelt names to become the 13th/14th official TV Doctor Who.

She’s already done an interview with the BBC web site, if you want to find out more about her, the casting process and important things like whether she’s picked out a costume yet.

As with plenty of other actors before her (eg Tom Baker, Colin Baker, Matt Smith), she’s not a household name – she’s probably best known from Broadchurch, which coincidentally was created by incoming Doctor Who showrunner (cf Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Rusty’s Second Coming and Casanova). She’s been in a lot more than that, obviously:

Jodie Whittaker graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2005 with a gold medal in Acting. Since then she has worked continually in Film, Television and Theatre. Her TV credits include the critically acclaimed ITV drama Broadchurch (for which she was nominated for ‘Best Actress’ for the RTS Television Awards), Emmy award-winning Black Mirror, Sky 1’s The Smoke, BBC’s Cranford, in which she starred opposite Judi Dench and Imelda Staunton, The Night Watch (BBC), The Accused (BBC), and Tess of the D’Urbervilles (BBC).

Jodie has recently finished shooting Journeyman written and directed by Paddy Considine as well as the lead in the new BBC drama series ‘Trust Me’. Her other film credits include Venus, (which earned her nominations for ‘Best Newcomer’ at the ‘British Independent Film Awards’, ‘Best British Newcomer’ at the ‘Critic’s Circle Awards’ and ‘Best Actress in a Motion Picture’ at the ‘Satellite Awards’), Attack the Block, One Day, Black Sea, Good Vibrations, St.Trinian’s, Get Santa and most recently Adult Life Skills which she Executive Produced as well as starred in which received a number of BIFA nominations.

Jodie made her professional theatrical debut at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in The Storm. Other theatre credits include playing the title role in Antigone at the Royal National Theatre, Bash at the Trafalgar Studios, Awake and Sing and Enemies at the Almeida, both directed by the then Artistic Director, Michael Attenborough.

Don’t you forget about me

Indeed, I actually saw her at that (somewhat ropey) National Theatre production of Antigone and completely forgot she had played Antigone until someone reminded me about it on Twitter – so you might have seen her in something, too, and just forgotten about it as well.

Here she is with that Christopher Eccleston in said production (fan fic – engage!):

As you might expect with the casting of a woman in a previously male role, reaction has been… mixed.

Jodie Whittaker good?

On the one hand, it’s made a lot of people happy, particularly women and probably a few trans people, too. Which is nice, obviously. It’s good to make people happy, particularly people who deserve better representation on screen.

Jodie Whittaker bad?

Of course, being the left, there’s a few people complaining that it’s not pure enough and it’s just another posh white person (clearly people who’ve never heard Whittaker actually speak), when it would have been really radical to have a black woman or an obviously muslim man. Clearly, it’s all a sign of how intolerant and bigoted the BBC really is to have cast Whittaker – it’s probably never even heard of intersectionality.

Jodie Whittaker still bad?

On the other end of the political spectrum, we have all manner of (mainly) men, some of them Ian Levine complaining that Doctor Who has been destroyed, this is political correctness gone mad, that you shouldn’t fancy the Doctor (clearly people who have forgotten David Tennant and the power of Sitting Tennant), etc. Despite the fact we’re talking about a time-traveller who can change age, accent, hair colour, height et al at will, and who comes from a race that Steven Moffat has spent the best part of five years establishing as being capable of switching sex and/or gender.

Whittaker in the middle

Most of the extreme arguments are, of course, nonsense. In the middle, though, there are arguments for both sides that aren’t totally dismiss-able.

Jodie Whittaker bad?

On the anti-side, there’s the idea that the Doctor is one of the few peaceful, intellectual, heroic role-models for boys and that casting Whittaker removes said role-model. Of course, that relies on the idea that boys can’t identify with women and that they have, until now, been identifying with the Doctor, who is actually, when you think about it, a bit of a dick.

Jodie Whittaker good?

On the plus-side is the flip-side of that argument – now girls have a similar role-model – as well as the fact it garners good publicity, Whittaker is a deserving actress and that it’s very much of the zeitgeist, now that Star Wars and, of course, Wonder Woman are showing the power and appeal of creating stories around heroines.

Jodie Whittaker bad?

Back on the anti-side, there’s also the argument that Whittaker might not be a good choice and that if she fails, it’ll ensure that the BBC won’t choose a woman again and that better, black, muslim actresses won’t get a chance at the top role.

Or that she might be great, but she’s got Chris “Torchwood and CountrycideChibnall writing for her and so is doomed from the outset.

Jodie Whittaker good?

More positively, if Ian Levine doesn’t like it, surely it must be a good idea.

What do you think?

But what do you think? Pleased? Displeased? Good choice? Bad choice? Think the whole show is going to get cancelled or do you now actually some sort of optimism for the forthcoming Chibnall era?

Answers as always in the comments below, on your own blog or even on TMINE’s shiny new Facebook page